To most people, princes, princesses, counts and dukes are found only in the pages of the most famous of fairytales. Crowns, priceless jewels and gilded thrones belong only in childhood dreams.
But for some, these frivolous fancies are truth.
For some, they are real life.
On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, people have always treated me as someone special. All because of my ancestral name and legacy. All because of a connection I share to our home country’s most important family of all.
I am Caresa Acardi, the Duchessa di Parma. A blue blood of Italy. I was born to marry well. And now the marriage date is set.
I am to marry into House Savona. The family that would have been the royals had Italy not abolished the monarchy in 1946. But to the aristocrats of my home, the abolition means nothing at all.
The Savonas still hold power where it counts most.
In our tight-knit world of money, status and masked balls, they are everything and more.
And I am soon to become one of them.
I am soon to become Prince Zeno Savona’s wife…
… or at least I was, until I met Achille.
And everything changed.
As my papa’s G5 began its descent, I looked out of the window beside me and waited for the plane to break through the clouds. I held my breath, body tense, then suddenly the burnt-orange remnants of daylight flooded the plane, bathing the interior with a soft, golden glow. I inhaled deeply. Italia.
Fields and fields of green and yellow created a patchwork quilt below, rolling hills and crystal-blue lakes stretching as far the eye could see. I smiled as a sense of warmth ran through me.
It was the most beautiful place on earth.
Sitting back in my wide cream leather chair, I closed my eyes and tried to prepare myself for what was coming. I was flying to Florence airport, from where I would be swiftly taken to the Palazzo Savona estate just outside of the city.
I would meet Prince Zeno.
I had met him twice before—once when I was four, of which I had no memory, and again when I was ten. The interaction we’d had as children had been brief. If I was being honest, I had found Zeno to be arrogant and rude. He had been thirteen at the time and not at all interested in meeting a ten-year-old girl from America.
Neither of us had known at the time that that our betrothal had been agreed upon two years prior. It turned out that the trip my papa had taken to Umbria when I was eight was to secure a forever-bond between the Savonas and the Acardis. King Santo and my father had planned for their only children to marry. They were already joined in business; Zeno’s arranged marriage to me would also strengthen both families’ place in society.
I thought back on my New York farewell of nine hours ago and sighed. My parents had driven me to the private hangar and said their goodbyes. My mama cried—her only child was leaving her for a new life. My papa, although sad to see me go, beamed at me with the utmost pride. He had held me close and whispered, “I have never been more proud of you than I am right now, Caresa. Savona Wines’ stock has plummeted since Santo’s death. This union will reassure all the shareholders that our business is still strong. That we are still a stable company with Zeno at the helm.”
I had given him a tight smile and boarded the plane with a promise that they would see me before the wedding. And that had been that.
I was to marry Zeno, and I hadn’t protested even once. I imagined to most modern-day women living in New York, the process of arranged marriages sounded positively medieval, even barbaric. For a blue blood, it was simply a part of life.
King Santo Savona died two months ago. The shareholders of his many Italian vineyards, the stakeholders in Savona Wines, had expected his son, Zeno, to immediately step up and take charge. Instead, Zeno had plunged himself into the party scene even harder than before—and that was quite a feat. Within weeks my papa had flown out to Umbria to see what could be done.
The answer: our imminent union.
One winner gets a Signed Copy of A Veil of Vines + Limited-Edition The Future Mrs. Marchesi T-Shirt
Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.
After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.
Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.
Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.
When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.
I really liked Caresa. She comes from a very privileged background, and has had every advantage in life you could ask for. Traveling the world, the best schooling, and financial security. But she never took her blessings for granted, she's loyal, and she genuinely cares about others' well being. She earned a degree in educational psychology in order to help people with learning disabilities, even knowing that most likely her own dreams for her future would never be realized.
Now her time has run out, her marriage to Prince Zeno Savona looms, and it is one that will benefit both families. Their union will bring strength to the wine business that they partner in, and alleviate unrest over Zeno's ability to take control as King and head of the company. She isn't exactly thrilled about it, but there simply is no other alternative and she vows to make the most of the situation she was handed.
After arriving at the Bella Collina Vineyard to begin wedding preparations, she is left alone when her fiancé leaves to attend to business. One day while exploring the property, she meets Achille. He completely mesmerizes her from the moment she sees him working the fields. After introducing herself, she comes to realize that his outer beauty is nothing compared to what lies underneath his surface. His unique, gentle, beautiful soul shines out immediately and she is completely captivated.
He was beautiful. Achille was absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.
He's extremely shy and quiet, he's a man who lives simply, enjoying the fruits of his labor. He has his cottage, his horses, and most of all, his grapes that he nurtures into an award winning wine. Yes, he's quite lonely, but all of his needs are met and he has a purpose in life. But after getting to know Caresa, his simple life just got a whole lot more complicated. The friendship they share quickly intensifies, and suddenly they are both fighting unwanted desires. It's more than a physical attraction, it feels like coming home, more natural than taking a breath.
He breathed. I breathed. The heat between us soared. Yet neither of us moved away. There was no urgency to separate, only an unspoken eagerness to stay close. Magnets.
These two had a powerful connection that was beautiful to see. He absolutely adored and worshiped her, and she drew him out of his shell and helped him flourish. He was living a very solitary life before she came, and he was satisfied, but now the thought of things returning to how they used to be left him increasingly desperate. Caresa is equally fighting where fate is pulling them, trying frantically to cling to the happiness she has found.
It hurt because no matter the plans we had made, no matter the love we shared and the needs of our hearts, it couldn’t work. None of this could ever work. We had been fools to think so. Struck from our senses by love.
There was a lot more to this story than either could ever imagine. Buried secrets that would change everything they thought they knew. Admittedly, I must admit that when it was revealed, it was no surprise to me. I had guessed it fairly early on. What prevented me from completely loving this book was the level of sweetness that became a bit much for me by the end. But please don't let my mid-grade rating dissuade you from trying this book, it has a lot to offer.
I'm a big fan of Tillie Cole's work. This year she has experimented with genres outside her norm and that has been really refreshing. I applaud her for trying something different and I think that she's starting to prove that whatever subject matter or genre she chooses to tackle, she has the skills to make it something special. A Veil of Vines in centered around some very classically romantic themes. It's the perfect modern fairytale fantasy, complete with Italian "royalty", an arranged marriage, ill-fated love, and a beautiful, lonely winemaker. It had an enchanting, old-fashioned feel to it that I believe many readers will love and appreciate.
Do you believe in soulmates? If not, read this book, and it just might change your mind.
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