Mask of Dreams

A Novel

Romance - Historical
396 Pages
Reviewed on 11/20/2022
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Leigh Grant has degrees in art history and fine art. She attended Hollins College, now Hollins University, and Pratt Institute and studied and lived in Paris and London. A former illustrator, with a number of books to her credit, she won the Steven Dohanos Award for Our Own Show, Society of Illustrators, appeared on the Christmas Today Show with Katie Couric, and was selected by the Book of the Month Club for her book The Twelve Days of Christmas: A History and Celebration, which, other than the lyrics, she both wrote and illustrated. Two popup books on Rome and Egypt followed. Having completed the certificate course at NYU, she is currently an appraiser of fine art. As a writer, she is fascinated by the Italian Renaissance and the Venetian Empire. Mask of Dreams, as an unpublished manuscript, was recipient of Chanticleer Reviews 2017 Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic and Women's Fiction and short-listed for Winner Historical Fiction Before 1750, Chaucer Award. A sequel is underway. She has two children, loves Rhodesian Ridgebacks, riding, sailing, Nantucket, and adventure, and lives in Norwalk, CT.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Soumya Sreehari for Readers' Favorite

Mask of Dreams by Leigh Grant is a love story set in the 15th century. The setting is Venice and the Adriatic. Caterina is the only daughter of a Venetian merchant. She has the rare privilege of an education. That privilege does not extend to her marriage. She is betrothed to a man considered most suitable by her father. Her mother died giving birth and Caterina was brought up by her father and a loyal nurse. She has had a loving childhood until she is old enough to be betrothed. Rade is a Slav brigand who preys on shipping in the Adriatic. A strong twist of fate brings Rade and Caterina together. What follows is a story of love, longing, valor, adventure, and family bonding.

Driven by the pull of fate and a belief in prophecy, Rade makes a life-changing journey towards his destiny. When he first meets Caterina and her father, he is determined to take advantage of their wealth. Leigh Grant explores the ups and downs of what becomes a fated romance in Mask of Dreams. It is a story that unravels different aspects of each character like the layers of an onion. Set in a patriarchal society where women have minimal freedom of choice, it explores the mind and heart of a strong woman. Mask of Dreams gives the reader all the experiences of a love story – love, betrayal, jealousy, longing, rejection, separation, reconciliation, compassion. In the end, it makes one think of the true value in relationships, both romantic and familial.

Peggy Jo Wipf

Mask of Dreams by Leigh Grant takes you to the romantic city of Venice during the 15th century. Caterina is the only child of the wealthy merchant, Ludovico. One act of foolishness as a child causes a chain of unfortunate events to unravel for Caterina. Her betrothed, Ariosto, requires continual payment for her mistake and is only satisfied with her suffering. When her prayers for escape from the betrothal are answered, a new search begins via a letter. The end result of that search becomes a Slav outlaw named Rade from across the Adriatic. He believes fate has brought him to Caterina but, being scarred, he is unable to meet the requirement for beauty in the letter. He finds a solution, a mask, but is also forced to agree to a long betrothal. Trapped by the mask, and falling in love with Caterina, there are many obstacles to overcome; will the secrets he hides crush any happiness they might someday find with each other?

Leigh Grant forges a different ambiance and background in her historical romance, Mask of Dreams. Through an intricate weave of characters, cultural differences, and secrecy, Grant constructs a fascinating storyline. The novel begins with Caterina’s unfortunate behavior and its consequences, which at her age should have been a factor, but the pride of a man’s reputation was on the line. The author gives an in-depth view of her dreams, hopes, and disappointments. When Rade’s fate changes, he is brave enough to take hold with an iron fist; his kindness and integrity are seen only by those closest to him. The dynamics between Caterina and Rade clash, keeping the reader absorbed in their drama. Overall, Grant writes with an originality that is spectacular and engaging. The plotline and conflict make this a fascinating novel.

Rabia Tanveer

Mask of Dreams by Leigh Grant is set in picturesque 15th-century Venice and the hinterlands of the Balkans. Caterina is half noble and half commoner. Betrothed to a man old enough to be her father, at a gathering, she reacts to ridicule brought on by behavior that angers her suitor and for that, she is punished. The betrothal fails. Having won a letter in a card game soliciting offers for her hand, a charismatic brigand, Rade, arrives in Venice. Drawn by what he sees as the hand of fate, he is unable to fulfill the concept of beauty put forth in the letter. He seeks out a lifelike mask to conceal his scarred face. A man of ambition, he views Caterina solely as his key to wealth, but eventually, he falls for the innocent yet willful maiden. While it may seem like fate has drawn them together, it decides to throw them a curveball. Can Rade and Caterina find their way to each other? Or are their destinies not meant to be intertwined?

Reading Mask of Dreams is a unique experience. Masks and hidden identities play an important role in this novel. The story is descriptive without being annoyingly long, which means the descriptions are helpful and entertaining to read. While the pace of the story is great, it is the descriptions that bind the story together for me. They are so vivid that I can easily imagine living in the pages with Caterina. Author Leigh Grant explains sounds and images in such a glorious way that I believe no reader will have trouble forming a connection with the characters and falling in love with the narrative. You can tell Grant put a lot of thought into each moment of the story and I love that.