Title: A Veil of Vines
Author: Tillie Cole
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 28th November, 2016
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 then everything changed.
*~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *
*~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *
Kindle Friends Forever
Four ★ Review by Sharon Thérèse
Ms Cole never ceases to amaze me with her talented and versatile writing. Her latest offering takes on the semblance of a fairytale conjuring up sublimely picturesque images. Not only did the beautifully described scenery take my breath away, but having had the pleasure of savouring Italy’s wine and its delicacies was like revisiting the regions of Umbria and Tuscany once again. I consider myself to be quite a knowledgeable wine drinker, so therefore you can imagine my surprise while reading the author’s detailed account of the traditional wine-making process which I might add, is extremely well told.
That being said, House of Savona where the protagonists’ make-believe story of aristocratic grandeur is narrated in modern day is just perhaps, not so inconsequential as we think. One has to live up to their titles and personal choices regarding future spouses are few and far between. Accepting her destiny, Caresa Acardi leaves her loved ones behind and starts her new life. For someone who’s used to having everything, I was delighted to see that there’s much more to her than what I’d had originally thought at the beginning of the story. Her love for the countryside and her outgoing personality bowled me over. She’s honest, curious and well aware that her place in such a tight-knit society is not up for discussion. Ah, but what meets the eye and what one wants to see is completely different. Rules of the heart are indisputably unquestionable!
“There is no need for false modesties, Caresa. I’m very much of the opinion that we should always say exactly what we think. In private, of course. We both have reputations to protect.”
My first impression of Prince Zeno wasn’t at all positive. I found his finicky ways and attitude comparable with that of a spoilt child. Since he’d been given free rein to do virtually what he wanted, I found his persona a tad shallow. Even the art of manly etiquette which I assumed he’d be an expert in, had its failures. Now to be married to the Duchessa di Parma, is he going to be able to change his philandering ways? Despite disliking this impeccably dressed heir to the family’s name, my opinion of him changed a hundred percent when the cat was let out of the bag. I thought his standoffishness appropriate considering he was out of his depth in certain aspects and I couldn’t fault the author’s development of his persona. But regardless of my feelings for him, the part he played was crucial and added that touch of uneasiness.
“Were you jealous?”
“Not a little bit.”
Ooh my, deary me. . . Achille Marchesi! Now we’re talking about a quintessential character who, if it were ever possible, I would love to meet. He is simply beautiful. A heart of gold and a love for everything that nature has to offer, he’s also the best ever expert in his forte. Tillie, you have hit his qualities on the nail to such an extent that I can honestly say you made me cry like a babe in some touching scenes. I do so appreciate how you’ve gone to extremes with his personality traits and even before summing up this review, I have to say BRAVO for giving me such utter pleasure whilst reading his story! Tenderness abounds, comprehension takes first place and Achille is just simply perfect in all his simplicity. He quickly became my Achilles’ heel! There was never one moment when I had to struggle to understand exactly how he felt. While trying to overcome his personal obstacles, I lived his pain and his vulnerability. In all his correctness and his worth, strong emotions were brought out in him, Caresa and myself included when I thought how on earth he was going to come out of the whole situation unscathed.
“It was never my intention to make you unhappy, Caresa,”
“I know.” “But it was never your power to make me happy either. That honor belonged to someone else. It was written in the stars, way before you were born.”
This magical story is low on angst, easy to foretell and a fitting read for young adults. A twist which I had my suspicions about, gave me all those heartfelt sensations I needed and hopefully you’ll be left taken aback like I was but at the same time, satisfied. Told in past tense from the two main protagonists points of view, I really would have loved more from one of the characters who, at the end of the day, made everything possible. Their final decision was in my book, something to be proud of. Putting it lightly, I was chuffed. Ms Cole brought her characters’ virtues, values and faults out in multicolour. The music accompanying this story couldn’t have been better chosen in an Italian love story which hinders on a Shakespearean tragedy in more ways than one. Where were some of my favourite composers? HERE! Maybe a playlist would be asking too much but nevertheless, once you’ve read this story and taken into consideration how important every song sung by Boccelli is or how every Vivaldi Four Seasons concerto is expressed, all you have to do is make up you minds. Once again Ms Cole, BRAVO!
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.
Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.
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.