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.
Caresa is a duchesa according to Italian royalty and heritage. She lives with her family in New York but is now moving to Italy to marry the prince, soon to be King, Zeno to solidify their families and their wine business. Being Italian royalty comes with it’s duties and expectations, ones Caresa doesn’t take lightly. But all that changes for her the moment she meets Archille, the wine maker of Bella Collina Reserve, which is her absolute favorite wine. She was determined that one day she would meet the maker of the wine, little did she know she would meet him on her fiance’s estate and that she would fall in love with him.
This is a story of soul mates, of split halves that were meant to be together, that were meant to come together to be truly whole. The book was so beautifully written with so much love and emotion, I became totally engaged in their story and could not inhale it fast enough, but the more I inhaled it the more I wanted to slow down as I am now done, left with a book hangover and very sad that their story has come to an end.
I really loved how this one played out. I must say it started a bit slow for me with her traveling from NY to Italy for her arranged marriage and it was a bit before we got to really see the story start to take shape but once it did, I looked back and could see that the build up to that point was necessary. The picture this author has created for us left very many vivid images in my mind, especially of Archille, who I will be definitely dreaming about for a while. What truly is better than a rugged hot italian guy who is a master at making red wine. And I must add, this author truly has me craving red wine with reading this book and I never drink, LOL.
I loved both of these characters so much. Caresa was such a loving and caring person. She was about to put her own life and happiness on hold all for her family just to marry a man she knew she would never love. And seeing her with Archille, you truly couldn’t help but see that these two were meant to be together. I love every scene these two were in together, you could totally feel the love and emotion coming off of the pages, even from the very first moment they met. I just knew their love would be epic.
Archille, what can I truly say to do this man justice. He’s hot, and sexy and very rugged in his wine making ways. But he too has an amazingly big heart, he loved Caresa with everything he had and would have done just about anything for her. But I loved that when it came down to it, he put the timid and reclusive shy side of himself away and fought for his woman. He truly is being added to my list of top BBF’s, how could he not, he’s Italian, he’s super sexy, he’s a master at making red wine, and he loves with every thing he is and has.
Tillie Cole has truly outdone herself with this one. The information and history of Italy and wine making was phenomenal. Most times I am not a fan of this type added into stories but it was so well done and written into it that I absolutely loved it. This book had an amazing story with some really great sweet and tender moments, some very off the charts hot and sexy ones but also some really great drama added that wasn’t overdone and some very emotional moments. On top of all that it had a really great message regarding those that struggle to read and write like the rest of us but the way it was written into the story, it didn’t feel like this big public service announcement that usually happens when Authors write these types of things into their stories.
Overall this was a phenomenal 5 star read that I am still reeling over and truly wish I was still burried into the Italian scenery of wineries and wine making. This one will definitely be a top read for me this year.
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.