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The Lion of Venice (Zebra Historical Romance) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Apr 2001
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Warrior nobleman Oliver Ducci Montaldo is one of the protectors of Venice. He prides himself on adherence to the knightly vows that his family has followed for generations. Yet now, on the eve of announcing his engagement to Lady Domiziana, he finds his thoughts on his young ward. Julian's presence in his life creates a conundrum, reminding him of what he once was, and what he lost. Yet he knows so little about her. He doesn't even know the important things about her, like what irritates her or what makes her laugh.
When Oliver gave her his word six years ago, Julian implicitly believed the words given on the honor as a knight. It had happened so suddenly. A tug from sleep; a flight into the night. A tunnel where she said goodbye to her mother and was placed into Oliver's safe keeping. They had both been at the Dogan Bey's against their will; she had been a twelve-year-old concubine. He had been a prisoner. She made him swear they would return to Nicopolis one day for her mother. Now, six years later, Julian returns to her guardian. Not a day had passed without a thought of him.
People say that Julian's mother, Aalyne de Lione, was a witch. Her power was passed to her daughter, and now the villagers live in fear of her. But they fear her less than she fears herself. Julian would forget her gifts of healing, if she could. She cannot ignore her gifts, however, any more than she can ignore her feelings for Oliver, who is betrothed to a wealthy Venetian. As the city rallies for the Crusade and Oliver prepares his fleet for the voyage to Nicopolis, Julian's desperate choice forever alter both their destinies. The answer to Julian's questions lies in Nicopolis, including the truth about her mother's fate, her heritage, and the magic of her gifts.
Danger lurks in every turn of the page, the ominous tone foreshadowing the revelation of secrets that bind two lives. The exotic, vivid background recreates an almost forgotten era, and the author writes with a knowledge and understanding of witchcraft. For example, Johns captures the dangers of the Strega witch with flair. The accurate historical details and opulent descriptions create a riveting tale. This second installment of the trilogy will leave the readers waiting impatiently for the third. Very highly recommended.