A blood oath, a dreadful curse, and the evil eye. A dark family secret that will shatter lives and the woman who must risk everything to keep it buried. From two neighbouring villas in the heart of the Tuscan countryside to the elegance of Siena; from a world steeped in ancient superstitions to a culture where family honour is paramount comes, this multi-layered novel of the lives, loves, secrets and strivings of two women and their families in the 13th century. A blood oath to wed their first born children binds the Benevento and Ventura families. When Prudenza Benevento learns her nemesis, Felicia Ventura, is pregnant, she is jealous and secretly casts the curse of the evil eye upon her. Felicia gives birth to twin boys. Jealous, Prudenza visciously resurrects an ancient superstition that unidentical twins can only come from different fathers. The scandal tears apart Felicia's marriage and makes her an outcast in the small Italian village where they live. Fate intervenes, and when Prudenza gives birth to twin daughters, she is desperate to save herself from the same scandal that ruined Felicia. She orders the midwife to take one daughter away. With only a gold ring and a brocade blanket as clues to the infant's past, the midwife leaves the child and the items in an olive tree in front of a small convent. The nuns lovingly name the child Olivia and raise her. Years later, in a shocking encounter, Olivia meets a young man named Luca. When an act of God nearly kills her, it is Luca who comes to her rescue. Soon, their love for each cannot be denied. When she finds herself with child, Luca offers to care for her and the child, but cannot wed her because he is already betrothed. Despite her misgivings, her love for Luca proves strong and Olivia places her faith in him and follows him to his new villa and a new life. Luca makes numerous unsuccessful attempts to avoid his forthcoming marriage and to marry Olivia instead, but the blood oath and Church laws make it impossible. As the date of Luca's wedding draws near, and the secrets of Olivia's secret past begin to surface, long buried secrets are exposed in a twist of fate no family member can anticipate. An absorbing novel about wicked intentions, medieval superstitions, a curse uttered in envy, undisclosed secrets, unstoppable destinies, and two generations of women and the extraordinary event that will vindicate or destroy them. Also by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer The Contessa's Vendetta The Betrothal The Pendant
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