In 18th century Siena, Count Salvesto Masello has returned home to find the family villa and his father’s estate steeped deeply in debt. In order to save it, he has been selling off valuable family heirlooms, but he is running out of silverware. Somewhere in the villa his deceased father had hidden the art treasures that will pay the debt, but Salvesto can’t find them anywhere.
Amadeo Neruccio has been on the run from the vicious pimp, thief, and pawnbroker Guelfetto, but his toughs finally catch him and bring him to the cellar where Count Masello is selling off his silver. When the count learns what fate Guelfetto has in store for Amadeo, he intervenes and trades the last of his mother’s dowry for the young man’s freedom.
Salvesto had left home over ten years ago to live the life of adventure he craved. He had also hoped to leave his broken heart behind. When he rescues young Amadeo, he did not expect to find love again, or that his adventures had yet to end.
This story had serious potential. I enjoyed seeing how Salvesto saved Amadeo and then worked to make his life better. His faith in Amadeo being able to turn his life around was wonderful. However, everything was solved too easily and too quickly. The villa is saved, the bad guy is defeated and the gang of thugs dispensed quickly and with little effort on the main characters parts. There’s a very sweet happy for now ending. I liked the characters and would like to see more of them. I’d just like to see them and their story fleshed out a bit more and have them work a bit harder to get there.
Amadeo Neruccio stops by to tell us a little bit about what comes next. From the sound of things, the work is continuous to keep the villa going. Read and enjoy!
We had to repair the damaged villa. By the time we were assured no winter wind would find its way in, the harvest was upon us. First the wheat in the fields, the grapes on the vine, and then the olives. We ate meals standing by our scythes and fell asleep among the wine barrels and olive press. We labor under sunny skies, side by side, myself and my Salvesto. I’m trying hard not to think about the weekly visits by the marriage broker, that devil’s whoreson.
Everyone knew everyone’s business in the small hilly honeycomb town of Siena. The house the Masello had once occupied for short periods during the year belonged to a rich merchant now. The eldest Masello had died in a hunting accident in the countryside, and his father, it was said, died of grief a year later. This event had brought the new conte home to the villa with the leaky roof, the broken-backed barn, and massive debt. Yet perhaps Conte Masello was not as bad off as they said, for he had paid Amadeo’s debt to Guelfetto.
Likely Amadeo was wrong about that, too, as the conte had traded for his freedom with silver dishes and spoons. Amadeo swallowed hard but could not dislodge the lump in his throat, a combination of gratitude and resentment. Life in a Florentine bathhouse and sexual slavery to the traditional enemies of Siena was no life at all. He shuddered. He had meant it about throwing himself on the tender mercy of the river.
What kind of master was the new Conte Masello? He glanced at the man beside him and found warm hazel eyes gazing down at him. His new master’s hair was as brown as chestnuts and touched with gray strands. Whatever he’d been doing while the family fortunes dwindled—soldiering, sailing, perhaps even tramping about in the New World—had made him a man with a face weathered by the sun and muscles that strained the seams of his fine clothes. He was broad-shouldered and a forearm’s length taller than Amadeo, who felt like a willow tree beside such an oak.
“We have another stop to make,” the conte whispered. “Finish your prayers.”
The hard press of the conte’s velvet-clad shoulder and the intimacy of his warm breath on Amadeo’s neck sent a small shock through him, and his cock stirred restlessly in response.
Oh no, you don’t. You are not to ruin this chance for me either. Pardon me, dear Saint Catherine. I pledge to you I will stay away from the gaming tables and this man’s bed.
Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mahem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of 10 years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.
Dreamspinner Press Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/heloise-west
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