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.
A story about modern day royalty and the obligations that come with being a member of an “exclusive, tight-knit world” – one that looks its nose down at those of lower social status and one that puts duty before love and traditions before heart is an intriguing one because it illustrates old world beliefs and the power that comes with being a blue blood as well as what that position costs those who, while being a part of the aristocracy, would much rather marry for love and passion than for business and securing family ties.
Tillie Cole is a masterful story teller; she writes in such a way that allows readers to truly understand each of her character’s wants and needs, and she easily conveys what her characters’ hearts deserve, even in one as quiet and introverted as Achille Marchesi. Achille’s is such a beautiful man who leads a solitary life by choice, but he also believes that’s the only way a man like him can live. He is not a man of wealth or title, but he is a passionate man – one who takes pride in his job as a wine maker and finds validation in his skills by how other praise the quality of his product.
Caresa Acardi may be the Duchessa di Parma, but she is nothing like what a stereotypical princess is believed to be. She’s kind and generous…hard working and honorable, and while she knows what is expected on her and tries to embrace her new life as the fiancee of Prince Zeno Savona, she can’t completely give herself over to her family duty because her heart yearns for more than just an arranged marriage with a man whose reputation as a playboy is more than just gossip.
The idea of soul mates is not a new concept, but the way Cole explains the theory of split-aparts and then uses her characters to demonstrate how heart warming and heart breaking that kind of connection can be makes it an awe inspiring experience, one that readers embrace due to Cole’s meticulous illustrations.
A Veil of Vines is an emotional journey for both Caresa and Achille as well as readers. There’s quite the history lesson explored in the story – one that reveals life changing secrets and one that puts the ideas of family, duty, and honor at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
The idea of a heart’s passion and what it means to be part of a whole due to a strong bond of love, commitment, and sacrifice are all ideas that Tille Cole explores in Caresa and Achille’s story and as their souls merge and outside forces try to overpower what they feel for one another, readers truly understand that even though differing worlds and obligations can attempt to prevent what’s meant to be, there’s still a way to remain whole and solidify a love created out of nothing but vines.
4.5 Poison Apples
I opened the window beside me and stared at the illuminated entrance. I swallowed hard and placed my empty glass on the bar. Metal groaned, breaking through the twilight, as the massive black wrought-iron gates began to open. The limo slowly pulled onto the property’s lane, and I drank in the thick forest that shielded the estate. I inhaled the freshness of the lush green trees. The unpolluted sky was thick with stars—not a single cloud in sight.
A few minutes later, the thick woods cleared, and I gasped. Acres and acres of gold and green vineyards covered the landscape. The scents of plump grapes and damp soil permeated the warm air. I closed my eyes. It reminded me of being a child. It brought me back to the days before I was taken to New York. I could still feel the heat of the Emilia-Romagna sun on my face, the deep smell of olives, grapes and flowers drifting in the breeze as I ran around our Parma estate.
I smiled a nostalgic smile and allowed my eyes to drift open again. I rested my arms on the window and leaned my chin on them as the limo drove on. There were several small villas peppered over the landscape, their lights twinkling in the distance. They must have been the winemakers’ residences. It was not only the Bella Collina merlot that was made on this land; other reds were too—particularly the Chianti from the region’s finest Sangiovese grapes. The Bella Collina olive oil was also up there with the best. But nothing compared to the famed merlot.
The limo turned right, and my breath caught in my throat. I lifted my head and stared disbelievingly at the property ahead. Bella Collina was a veritable Palace of Versailles tucked away in the Umbrian wilderness.
“Mio Dio,” I whispered as I took in the imposing stone structure, the sweeping steps and the vast number of windows set in the building’s walls. Large pillars of red-veined marble flanked the entrance. Cypress trees framed the estate as if it were the shining star of a fine Renaissance painting. Sculptures of famed Savona monarchs of old stood proudly on the manicured lawns, and strategically placed lighting illuminated the sheer perfection of every piece of topiary.
As a child, I had been to the Palazzo Savona in Florence. It was widely regarded to be one of the finest estates in all of Italy, if not western Europe. But this . . . this . . . there were no words. It was perfectly placed, as if it had always been there. As if it had grown naturally from the Umbrian earth just as sure as the vines and woods that kept this architectural treasure hidden from view.
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.