Duchessa Anastasia sneaks away from the family mansion at night in 18th Century Venezia during Carnevale. Giorgio, her cavalier servente, has feelings for her. Anastasia accepts the esteemed courtier, Leandro’s marriage proposal though he fails to disclose an important detail about himself. The royal guards seize Giorgio at the d’Alessi manor. The Crown accuses Giorgio of treason. Capriana, a servant, knows how Giorgio was framed. A conspirator intends to murder her. Anastasia and Leandro investigate Giorgio’s allegations before they are wed. The duchessa is surprised as to whom it leads.
Targeted Age Group:: 14+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I usually write historical romance novels set in the 18th century. Italy is a country that I have always wanted to visit because of its rich architecture, history and art. This is the inspiration for the background. I formed the characters as I write. In other historical romance novels I have written, the protagonist is extracted or compelled from her home which easily becomes a distant part of her life. In Ardor's Prestige, Anastasia's house and her servants continue to be a part of her life and courtship with the mysterious "duke". They serve a purpose beyond cleaning or keeping her company. She is eventually understands that their unwanted protection of her was necessary at some points in the story. Yet it is not the "duke" she needed protection from. One of the servants is actually the center of a conspiracy. Since Ardor's Prestige is a historical romance, her courtship with Leandro was an inevitability. I was inspired to write his character to keep him a mystery to her servants inasmuch Leandro's father believed Anastasia was not a maiden that his son was particularly familar with. There is a mystery which lies between the two: 1) their identity starting with their names which they both rectify easily, 2) their lineage or House from which they hail, and their discovery of who framed Anastasia's servant and a chilling one towards the end that answers the "why" all of this happened with Anastasia and Leandro being the subjects of the connivance.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I formed the characters as I write. Since the story is set in Italy, the characters' physical features were easier to form. In other historical romance novels I have written, the protagonist is extracted or compelled from her home which easily becomes a distant part of her life. Yet, Anastasia is somewhat reliant upon the help of her servants even when she wishes not to admit it. Her rebellious behaviour on the night she stole away to a public square alone set the tone for her obstinate nature.
Duchessa Anastasia's view wandered beyond the scene set before her towards a fresco near the entrance of the main study. There she walked into what now seemed to be a mural for Giorgio's inevitable death. Her father had the replicate commissioned to a renowned painter whose style and attention to color, depth, and angle was impeccable. It was the Personification of Justice as originally rendered by Louis Dorigny. The maiden saw herself climbing into the embedded portrait, asking the blindfolded woman to hear her; to listen to even the overwhelmed Giorgio whose silence she interpreted as a surrender due to weakness in the midst of authority. There was a small figure to her right and below. He was unable to hide under the woman's flowing white robe. Had any spectator been ignorant of the figure, they would have assumed that she was his guardian angel. This woman was far from this, an embodiment of the unknown which separated good and evil, the righteous from the wicked. Nor had the boy shield himself behind the rock of which they both sat upon. The artistry was refined and a remarkable depiction of a young lad in his natural state. This too reminded her of her childhood companion, the one boy whose innocence no one would ever doubt-until now. 'Please help him, save Giorgio from himself,' she thought. The duchessa saw the sword hovering above the male child's head. She accepted that it was either to defend the accused of tender age or to sever his head from his body in the pursuit of justice. In this child she witnessed Giorgio's face, confused, seeking someone, any benevolence to whisk him away from an unknown future; wondering whether he could surmount the evidence the guards had presented before her. But justice had failed to see. There were only two options for the signora to consider; either the king's judgment would be administered either in his favor or against him. This is what she saw in the lad, one who hoped for just rulership but did not expect much more than a despotic city-state. His was a surrender of his life to the hands of others he had never known. This is what she now saw, Giorgio in the grasp of the two royal guards. They now waited for the duchessa to resume her proper attention to her words. Signora Anastasia finally focused on the guards once more. One clearing his throat to ensure she was listening to their words. "You are correct in this, my lady, it is not." He fought to keep the restless Giorgio still.
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 23 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.
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