A young woman on the verge of taking her vows to become a nun.
A desperate flight from a murderous massacre.
One honorable man comes to her rescue.
Another becomes her nemesis and captor.
And a life and death search to reunite with her one true love.
In 10th century Naples, Saracens run rampant, annihilating villages, murdering women and children. Death and despair is everywhere. Alone in the world, Sara is a young novice plagued with doubts about taking her final vows to become a nun. When her convent is attacked, she flees for her life straight into the arms of a group of Saracens who leave her to die alone in the woods. An honorable cavaliere named Nicolo comes to her rescue and offers to take her to the safety of Naples. As they journey together, they are irresistibly drawn to each other. Believing Sara to be a nun, the honorable Nicolo is torn between love and duty to respect her vows. Heartbroken, he does what honor demands and sets her free before she can tell him the truth that she is not a nun. In her search to reunite with Nicolo, she encounters Umberto, a dark and dangerous man who will stop at nothing in his obsession to possess her. With her sharp intellect, and her heart, Sara must rely on her own courage and strength to escape her abuser and find the only man she will ever love. A story that burns with intensity, intrigue, and passion from the author of the highly popular novels, Orphan of the Olive Tree, The Contessa’s Vendetta, and The Betrothal.
Read an excerpt
Village of Gaeta
North of Naples
THE MASSACRE CAUGHT the villagers of Gaeta by surprise. In the convent of Santa Maria delle Vergine, the first shrieks of the Saracen raiders as they raced down the hillsides and into the outskirts of the village had forced the small group of nuns from their beds. Some rushed to the chapel to face the enemy. The others fled terrorized into the summer night. They were the lucky ones. That desperate flight would save their lives.
Protected by the hood of her mantle, Sara, a novice, the convent’s only inhabitant who had not yet taken her vows, stood among the sisters clustered together on a hill next to a grove of trees. She shivered against the fading night’s breeze. A full moon and the first rays of dawn shed a scarce light over the valley below. She gazed down at the village of Gaeta—a handful of buildings and homes, a church, and their convent—a sprawling mass of land surrounded on three sides by the sea. An eerie mist hung above it.
The desolate tolling of the church bell suddenly rose on the wind.
Sara watched in horror as Saracen warriors galloped through the village bellowing their battle cries. A knot of terror jammed in her chest when she saw them enter the convent. She held up a hand, a plea for the women to listen. The church bell suddenly ceased ringing. Screams, shrieks, and moans leapt out of the silence like sparks from a fire. Stunned, Sara could not tear her gaze away. Saracen marauders attacked homes, broke down doors and windows, and dragged villagers and nuns outside to meet their demise. The world was truly desolate, without redemption. The villagers were people she knew, whom she had toiled with and served. There had been no time to warn or save anyone. To each his own. The Saracens were bent at slaughter.