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.
As my papa’s G5 began its descent, I looked out of the window beside me and waited for the plane to break through the clouds. I held my breath, body tense, then suddenly the burnt-orange remnants of daylight flooded the plane, bathing the interior with a soft, golden glow. I inhaled deeply. Italia.
Fields and fields of green and yellow created a patchwork quilt below, rolling hills and crystal-blue lakes stretching as far the eye could see. I smiled as a sense of warmth ran through me.
It was the most beautiful place on earth.
Sitting back in my wide cream leather chair, I closed my eyes and tried to prepare myself for what was coming. I was flying to Florence airport, from where I would be swiftly taken to the Palazzo Savona estate just outside of the city.
I would meet Prince Zeno.
I had met him twice before—once when I was four, of which I had no memory, and again when I was ten. The interaction we’d had as children had been brief. If I was being honest, I had found Zeno to be arrogant and rude. He had been thirteen at the time and not at all interested in meeting a ten-year-old girl from America.
Neither of us had known at the time that that our betrothal had been agreed upon two years prior. It turned out that the trip my papa had taken to Umbria when I was eight was to secure a forever-bond between the Savonas and the Acardis. King Santo and my father had planned for their only children to marry. They were already joined in business; Zeno’s arranged marriage to me would also strengthen both families’ place in society.
I thought back on my New York farewell of nine hours ago and sighed. My parents had driven me to the private hangar and said their goodbyes. My mama cried—her only child was leaving her for a new life. My papa, although sad to see me go, beamed at me with the utmost pride. He had held me close and whispered, “I have never been more proud of you than I am right now, Caresa. Savona Wines’ stock has plummeted since Santo’s death. This union will reassure all the shareholders that our business is still strong. That we are still a stable company with Zeno at the helm.”
I had given him a tight smile and boarded the plane with a promise that they would see me before the wedding. And that had been that.
I was to marry Zeno, and I hadn’t protested even once. I imagined to most modern-day women living in New York, the process of arranged marriages sounded positively medieval, even barbaric. For a blue blood, it was simply a part of life.
King Santo Savona died two months ago. The shareholders of his many Italian vineyards, the stakeholders in Savona Wines, had expected his son, Zeno, to immediately step up and take charge. Instead, Zeno had plunged himself into the party scene even harder than before—and that was quite a feat. Within weeks my papa had flown out to Umbria to see what could be done.
The answer: our imminent union.
Tillie Cole is a one-click author. There hasn't been a book by her that I haven't devoured. She writes with such emotion that I always feel transported while reading her sweeping love stories. A Veil of Vines was exactly that. Spanning two continents and a tradition as old as time, Caresa and Achille's story was a real life fairytale.
Caresa Acardi, the Duchessa di Parma born in Italy but grew up in New York is finally moving back to Italy because she's part of a royal family even if royalty technically no longer exists. The time honored tradition of carrying on the blue blood family rules still exists even if the monarchy was abolished years ago. Caresa is set to marry Prince Zeno Savona, a man she's never really met, and is happy (mostly) with her lot in life. And although she realizes that this life is odd, she's determined to fulfill her duty. At least until she meets Achille. He's the complete opposite of what Caresa has been born into but they have a connection that is undeniable. Yet Caresa's obligation to her family and tradition make them impossible.
I was enchanted by this story. I was whisked away from anything familiar to me and experienced this story right along with the characters. I was fascinated by the life Caresa lived and even more fascinated by Achille. He was everything a good book boyfriend is supposed to be and Caresa and he fit together so well. It was heartbreaking to see them struggle to find their way. And while the ending was somewhat expected, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and finished this beautiful love story with a huge smile on my face.
Reviewed by Paige
★★☆ 4 "Split-Aparts" Stars ☆★★
One winner gets a Signed Copy of A Veil of Vines + Limited-Edition The Future Mrs. Marchesi T-Shirt
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.