In 1260, after the battle between Sienese and Florentine forces in Tuscanny, lifelong friends, Enrico Ventura and Carlo Benevento, who have stood together in battle, make a vow to wed their firstborn children. Carlo, crippled before battle, and Enrico, seriously wounded during the battle, though they might be the vest of friends, do not take into account the relationship between their spouses, Prudenza and Felicia.
Jealous of Felicia for being the first to become pregnant, and then having twin boys, Prudenza casts the evil eye on her. Learning of this, Felicia goes to the sorceress Cosma and obtains the knowledge to cause the evil spell to rebound, and thus the lives of the Venturas and Beneventos take an eventful and nasty turn.
I received a free review copy of Orphan of the Olive Tree by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer, the first book I’ve ever read by this author. While I’m not normally a romance genre reader, I found this tale spellbinding and an absolutely fascinating read. The characters are complex, with the mixture of good and bad that is common in the human species, and the interplay – with a healthy dollop of romance as you might expect for the genre – between and among characters makes compelling reading. I particularly like the way Patzer inserts the history of the era into her story, making it a part of the characters’ lives, and thus bringing it to life for readers.
If all romance authors wrote like this, I’d be a total fan of this genre. For now, though, I think I’ll stick to reading Patzer’s books. An easy four-star rating.