Patricia M. Muhammad
Fiction, Historical, Romance
September 13, 2020
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.
A young duchessa leaves the protected confines of her family mansion in the middle of the night. She believes she has consummated the greatest act of rebellion and hopes to celebrate it alone in the silent night. There is a courtier who lurks in the background, more esteemed than she. Anastasia is reluctant to engage with the fellow aristocrat and wonders just as much as he why he is outside in the Venetian town square at such an hour. They both attempt to protect themselves, not even providing their real first names to one another. The duchessa is without driver and must rely on the dashing stranger to drive her home in his family’s transport. He promised that he would not compromise her anonymity and gives her his jacket as a reminder of their unintended rendezvous. Sienna, the senior maidservant and Giorgio, her cavalier servente keeps Anastasia’s insubordinate act hidden from her parents. Giorgio finds that now that he and Anastasia are of age that his feelings have grown for her. However, he knows that his wish to be her husband can never be—and she is constantly reminding him. It is the 18th century and Veneziahas found itself within the season of Carnevale. However, the maiden does not have any experience with the celebrations. When she discovers her family is not to return for an unknown period of time, she searches one of the quarters and finds a stack of invitations to an array of soirees. Leandro’s father questions him and his capability as heir-apparent and the virtue of the maiden he assumed his son met intentionally, unescorted and in the night where he could only assume dubious acts occurred. Rumors circulate among the maidens concerning Anastasia’s alleged indecency with an unknown aristocrat. Though the idle talk was false, it is she who bears the near ruin of reputation though she is not even aware of them. Leandro remains unscathed. Giorgio finds himself fighting strangers each times he encounters the rumors, causing Anastasia to question her servant’s ability to serve with dignity. Leandro defends Anastasia and continues to until they are patriarch understands that regardless of his approval, eventually he and Anastasia will be together at last. It is her first royal social engagement, Giorgio escorts her and she departs from him as soon as Leandro makes his appearance. They have a few more of these celebrations to attend during this festive season. On one of these occasions, the courtier proposes to Anastasia while they enjoy a private moment in the gardens of their host. She accepts. All appears to be well until Giorgio is seized within the d’Alessi manor in front of Duchessa Anastasia and Sienna. The royal guards presents papers accusing him of treason to the Crown. The maiden hits him as he fails to defend himself to her and anyone else present. He is taken away and the chief of the Council of Ten questions him.
Anastasia and Leandro continue their courtship which leads to a marriage proposal. Neither is aware that Giorgio's unfortunate circumstances were somehow related to their relationship. Will Giorgio be exonerated? Will the duchessa and this mysterious courtier have their much anticipated wedding?