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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Carolina, the Contessina DeSimone, has a very demanding and overbearing father. Of noble birth, Carolina is expected to marry well. Carolina, however, wishes to follow her heart. She does so first to a childhood friend, Carlos, and then, disowned by her abusive father, to the mercenary soldier, Navarre, whom she meets while serving the Princess Margherita before her wedding to Prince Umberto. The story unfolds as the very forward-thinking Princess insists on learning how to fence, a very unladylike pastime for this time period. However, her future husband arranges for Navarre, his trusty spy, to teach the Princess. Carolina is expected to accompany the Princess and join in the lessons. A relationship develops and, when her childhood love, Carlos, is killed, and Carolina's father physically abuses her and disowns her, Navarre steps in and captures her heart. The two marry and, on the Prince's request, move to the United States to act as the Prince's economic advisers in a foreign land. Navarre and the Contessina take on a new role to fit into their lives in America, adopting the name Mr. and Mrs. Miguel Ajani.
This is a thrilling historical romance set in late nineteenth-century Italy. Author Robbi Perna has taken aspects of her great-great grandmother's life, another Carolina, the Contessina Antimori. The historical facts that surround the story are very well researched. With a flair for artistry and the dramatic, the author has provided the reader with a very fast-paced plot that is also very informative. A great read. Well done!