Elaine of Savernake grew up in obscurity, part of her sister's household in England, safe and unaware of the intrigues that she escaped as a toddler in the court of a Machievellian Italian city-state known as Monteverde. When she receives an offer of marriage from a knight in her powerful godmother's retinue, she is dismayed to learn for the first time that her choice is a not a suitable match for one of her exalted background.
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Elaine turns out to be last in the royal line of Monteverde - the princess herself. Once her identity is made public, she is swiftly packed off to Italy for a strategic alliance with the pretender to the Monteverde thrown, Franco di Pietro. En route to her arranged marriage, her ship is attacked and she is adbucted by a mysterious pirate, scholar, and self-described assasin known to her only as Il Corvo. But there is something familiar about him... some resemblance to a dream she once had. Il Corvo, she learns, also has pretensions to the throne of Monteverde. He is heir to the House of Navona, one of the three ruling families of Monteverde whose politics, like the de Borgias and de Medici's, have destroyed the peace and republican ideals of the kindgom. Il Corvo is determined to marry the princess himself and thereby secure a legitimate claim to the throne.
Elena's struggle to find and wield her own power in opposition to an entrenched (male) hierarchy is the focus of the story. Her transformation from hapless pawn to self-actualized regent is matched by Il Corvo's psychological progression from corruption to salvation, and her kingdom's from dictatorship to democracy. On the way, readers will discover a re-imagined romance novel, which takes the formulas and bends them into a surprisingly uplifting, life-affirming tale.
The review of this Book prepared by Rachel Rhys