In 18th century Milan, a duchessa is thrusted from her horse and into the estate of another esteemed member of the king’s court. Lilliana is unable to remember her accident or her identity. Duca Emmanuele notices that Duchessa Rosetta is complacent about their daughter’s absence from the House of Montanari. During the duchessa’s convalescence, she and the duca grow in affection towards one another. The maidservant, Noemi of the House of Montanari silently volunteers to help locate and retrieve the missing duchessa. Noemi enlists the help of her fellow maidservant, Gabriella. Noemi leaves the House of Montanari and encounters a proud vendor of pomegranates. He speaks of a tale of a fallen maiden taken into the care of a duca. He guides her to the House of Marchesi. The duchessa finally recalls her father’s identity. The duchessa wishes to learn more of the duca. He introduces her to various quarters of the Marchesi mansion. The king and queen gather evidence and secure it in the royal vault. Alessandro proposes to her. Lilliana accepts. The Crown decides to proceed with the planned royal ball. All of the esteemed of the Milanese king’s court are to attend.. The night of the royal grand affair arrives. Servants of the Houses of Montanari and Marchesi enter with the assistance of a royal servant. In separate royal chambers, the king and queen officiate Duca Alessandro and Duchessa Lilliana’s nuptials. Duca Emmanuele is right to be concerned for his daughter, for someone has conspired a dastardly plan against the duchessa, but who? The king and queen have the answer and reveals it before the entire king’s court.
Targeted Age Group:: 15+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always wished to visit Italy. Aside from its rich architecture and preserved waterways, I wanted to infuse a bit of humour in the next historical romance novel I would write. The romance between the duca and duchessa and sweet and evolves naturally despite the initial circumstance in which they meet. The humour from the other side adds the balance.
I also understood that as the story developed that the servants of the esteemed houses would have pivotal roles in ensuring that the duca and duchessa are safe, wed and are secure in the future they already knew they would have with one another.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I understood how the characters would appear given their country's/city-state's history. As far as their personalities and quirks, I usually do not have a fix set of traits each character would have. I do not even know who all the characters will be added–the plot dictates their creation and usefulness within the story.
“How far am I on this street of yours? I search for…” Noemi could not explain what she looked for other than the duchessa. A clue indeed, but what? Lilliana did not leave from the grand manor—ever. The man waited for the maidservant to further address him. She looked near the donkey's hoof as it brayed. She saw something shiny near it—of gold. She rushed towards it and snatched it before it could stomp and possibly destroy it.
“I am from the marketplace beyond this city. Sometimes I enter here because my pomegranates are the best…” he boasted. Noemi thought his response odd.
“You are of another city, but you venture here with your wares often?” She lifted her
right eyebrow. 'No, he would not harm a maiden. He only cares for his trade,' she thought.
“Yes, I know the hillsides and even the names of these grand Houses. Word has spread that even their servants await for lowly Pascal to enter their streets so that they perchance may purchase and prepare something sweet and grand for their precious lords and ladies.” Noemi quickly deduced that the farm trader was of pride, but she believed he was of strange honour. The maidservant kept silent for a few moments to examine the golden treasure. Noemi lifted it to the sun. It was a charm. She saw inside the circular piece the initials “L.M.” inscribed. The jewelry belonged to Duchessa Lilliana. She immediately recalled hearing the servants amongst their usual banter and tendency to gossip, speak of another charm that Duca Emmanuele found of
hers. There was hope.
“Have you heard much speech of the different servants…how often are you amongst them?” He looked suspiciously at Noemi, believing she belaboured on behalf of a competing farmer. Now he raised his eyebrows. He was ready to thrust the reins for his donkey to speedily depart.
“I serve one of those grand Houses—please. This belongs to a missing member.” The maidservant approached Pascal with her hood hiding much of her. She moved it back with her other hand for the farmer to see her face. “We have grave concern for her well-being.” He thought she was to bribe him—for him to take his prized pomegranates to another city and to never return. “I am a maidservant, not a farmhand.” She pulled the gold charm from his view with clear frustration. “A duchessa may be hurt or worse. If you have heard any chatter from amongst—” The donkey abruptly brayed. It was bored of standing in place. The woman had disrupted it and Pascal's routine. The tradesman patted it once on its back. The donkey ceased its irritating plea to leave. Noemi observed its unkempt tail swaying slower.
“Duca, or did you say a duchessa?” the farmer said.
“You have heard…of a matter concerning her?” Noemi said.
“I thought only for it to be a tale, unlike the glory spoken of these wonderful—”
“Pomegranates. Yes, your fruit. What have you heard?”
“A maiden rides a horse.” Pascal moved his hands around as if it was a fable conjured for the idle minds of Milanese youth. She had to be of high breeding, for she was graceful and beautiful. Her steed became insolent, unwilling to adhere to its rider's command. Sounds of unusual nature started it. She floats in the air as an angel with no wings. Where she lands can only be the hope of many that it was in the hands of Grace.”
“So where did the duchessa fall, Pascal?” Noemi was now grateful that he ceased his incessant and excessive gesture.
“I may only guide you to where it is rumoured of her fall…”
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Patricia M. Muhammad is an American fiction author of crossover contemporary romance/science fiction, science fiction/fantasy, mystery and historical romance genres. She has currently written 20 novels. She is currently working on her next book manuscript. Before penning fiction, Patricia emerged as an international legal history scholar and academic author, focusing on human rights, international law and restorative justice. She has currently written and published a combination of 22 research papers and academic book reviews in these subject areas. Her work has appeared in the American University International Law Review, Columbia Journal of Race and Law, the Willamette Journal of International Law and Public Policy as well as the New York History Journal. Her non-fiction writing has been cited dozens of times in various respectable academic journals.