Strange, twisted carvings and hideous gargoyles adorn the palazzo of the great Scarletti family. But a more fearful secret lurks within its storm-tossed turrets. For every bride who enters its forbidding walls is doomed to leave in a casket.
Nicoletta knows all too well the curse that plagues the house of Scarletti. She has always believed her miraculous healing gifts would set her apart and that no man would ever command her. Then she gazes into the dark, mesmerizing eyes of Don Scarletti and she fears for her future - for it is Scarletti's ancient right to select a bride from among his people... and he has chosen her.
Compelled by duty, driven by burning, inescapable desire, Nicoletta surrenders to this powerful, hypnotic man, giving her body willingly into his keeping. But will the tormented don be her heart's destiny... or her soul's destruction?
©2001 Christine Feehan (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
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"Very good standalone offshoot of the Dark series"
This was a very good story. I liked both Nicoletta and Giovanni and found their story to be well written and engaging. This doesn't really seem to have a tie to the Carpathians in the Dark series but both Giovanni and Nicoletta have certain "abilities" that may mean they had Carpathian ancestry.
Nicoletta is a young woman that serves as the healer for the village where she grew up. Her father was killed when she was too young to know him but her mother and aunt raised her with love until they both died. Since then, she's been mothered by another village woman, Maria Pia.
Don Giovanni Scarletti is the head of a family that's plagued by a curse. Many women and even some men have died in the last decade or 2 in his family home and there's an evil pall over it that's hard to escape. Giovanni never planned to marry because of the curse but when he meets Nicoletta for the first time, he's lost and is determined that they're meant to be together and that he will claim her as his.
Maria Pia was the village's midwife but Nicoletta has much better healing skills, some that are mystical enough that she could be branded a witch and killed for it. Nicoletta's village has always protected her secret and Maria Pia plays the senior healer while Nicoletta acts like the simpleminded assistant whenever they go outside of their village to heal someone. As this story begins, Nicoletta and Maria Pia have been called to the Don's home because of an illness. They get there to find the Don and his niece, Sophie, are both terribly sick. Nicoletta is able to determine that something was tainted in some soup they both ate and is able to heal them. Unfortunately, (at least in Nicolett'a opinion) this leads to Giovanni wanting to marry her and invoking the marriage covenant that allows the Don to claim any un-claimed woman in the local villages as his wife.
Nicoletta had already been skirting the advances of a couple of young men from her village and she truly had no interest in getting married. She had her garden in the hills and her healing and was perfectly content with that. When Giovanni claims Nicoletta, she's freaked at the idea of living in such a horrible place and she gets claustrophobia just thinking about it. Regardless of her fears, Giovanni wont let her go and she moves to his home and becomes his wife. There are multiple intrigues going on and it's hard for Nicoletta to know who to trust and if Giovanni is among the trustworthy. Giovanni is patient with her and since he has some abilities of his own, he doesn't have an issue with her abilities. It takes some time and persistence but Nicoletta and Giovanni are able to learn to trust each other and find the bad guy that's causing all the problems. They then end the story starting a well deserved HEA.
This was a very enjoyable story. I liked Nicoletta and thought she was pretty well balanced. She was a little too fearful of what was proper in the sex area at first for my taste but I guess with it being a historical it isn't unusual (thankfully, that didn't last long). Giovanni was a good hero...I wish we had been able to get some of this from his PoV, that would have been interesting. Overall, this was a very good story that I enjoyed a lot. I'd recommend it.
"Suspenseful story...beautifully narrated."
I loved this historical romantic mystery full of suspense and toe curling sex. The narrator was authentic and just wonderful to listen to.
Excellent storyline and wonderful narrator. This was such a delightful timeless love story with an excellent underlying mystery and intriguing plot. Wonderful read.
Wonderful storyline with adventure, and suspense wrapped up passionate love. Christine Feehan is a masterful storyteller and Nicole Zanzarella brings the story to life with her wonderful narration. I highly recommend this book.
"BELIVE IT OR NOT"
TO SEE HER BELIVE IN KING
THAT THE YOUNGEST LADY OF THE VILLAGE WAS LOVED BY THE KING
SHE SAVED THE SOLIDERS
WHEN THE WEDDING WAS MADE
A GREAT BOOK
I found this to be a better audiobook and I truly love the story. This was the first Christine Feehan book that I read and I still cherish this story over a decade later.
Nicol was good narrator and I would look for other books where is was the narrator.
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