The Echoes of Love
by Hannah Fielding
Seduction, passion and the chance for new love. A terrible truth that will change two lives forever.
Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Italy’s most captivating city to work in her godmother’s architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone.
Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can’t help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them.
When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia must not only contend with a beautiful young rival, but also come face to face with the dark shadows of Paolo’s past that threaten to come between them.
Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo’s carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?
It was nearly seven-thirty and the shops were beginning to shut down for the night. The wind that had blown all day had dropped, and a slight haze veiled the trees, as if gauze had been hung in front of everything that was more than a few feet away. The damp air was soaked with silence.
Venetia tightened the belt of her coat around her slim waist and lifted the fur collar snugly about her neck. The sound of her footsteps echoed off the pavement as she hurried towards the Rialto Bridge from Piazza San Marco, a solitary figure in an almost deserted street. She was on her way to catch the vaporetto water bus, which would drop her off at Palazzo Mendicoli where she had an apartment. A few huddled pedestrians could be seen on the opposite pavement, and there was not much traffic on the great inky stretch of water of the Grand Canal.
Suddenly Venetia saw two figures spring out in front of her from the surrounding darkness. They were enveloped in carnevale cloaks, with no visible faces, only a spooky blackness where they should have been. A hand materialised from under the all-encompassing wrap of one of the sinister creatures and grabbed at her bag. Chilled to the bone, Venetia tried to scream but the sound froze in her throat. Struggling, she hung onto the leather pouch which was looped over her shoulder and across her front as she tried to lift her knee to kick him in the groin, but her aggressors were prepared. An arm was thrown around her throat from the back and the second figure produced a knife.
Just as he was going to slash at the strap of her bag, an imposing silhouette emerged from nowhere and with startling speed its owner swung at Venetia’s attacker with his fist, knocking him off balance. With a grunt of pain the man fell backwards, tripping over his accomplice who gave a curse, and they both tumbled to the ground. Then, picking themselves up in a flash, they took to their heels and fled into the hazy gloom.
‘Va tutto bene, are you alright?’ The stranger’s light baritone voice broke through Venetia’s disoriented awareness, and he looked down anxiously into her large amber eyes.
‘Yes, yes, I think so,’ she panted, her hands going to her throat.
‘Are you hurt at all?’
‘No, no just a little shaken, thank you.’
‘You’re shivering. You’ve had a bad shock and you need a warm drink. Come. There’s a caffeteria that serves the best hot chocolate in Venice, just a few steps from here. It’ll do you good.’ Without waiting for a response, he took Venetia’s arm and led the way down the narrow street.
The Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour: The Chianti rooster
For the love of legends
For me, researching a book is just as enjoyable as writing it. I set each of my novels in a passionate, romantic country, and so that I can really transport my readers there, I immerse myself in the setting: its history, its scenery, its cuisine, its culture. Top of my research list are local legends – I love colourful, age-old stories; the more fantastical, the better!
Since I was a young girl, tucked up in bed and listening avidly to my governess weaving bedtime tales, I have loved legends. Fairytales too, of course – they sowed the seeds for my romantic nature – but legends fascinated me most: those that have stood the test of time, that offer intriguing explanations for the modern world, that are at once fantastical and yet, somehow, believable.
My novel The Echoes of Love, set in Venice, Tuscany and Sardinia, incorporates various Italian legends – told by the hero, Paolo, who is a raconteur extraordinaire, to my heroine, Venetia – and in my research files I collected many more. What better way to share some of these most romantic, magical and atmospheric tales but in this Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour!
Today, I’m taking you to Tuscany, that most beautiful of regions whose landscapes I very much enjoyed describing in my book:
The Tyrrhenian coast glowed under the wide arc of a burning, cloudless blue sky, the sea a shimmering golden mirror; the sweeping coastline looked out over the distant islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, echoing their beauty with its wild and mountainous landscape, the pale rock densely interspersed with exotically green pine groves, and its almost luminescent aquamarine waters lapping the shores.
The Chianti rooster
Baroness Victoria Sackville-West wrote of Tuscany: ‘Here the sweet legends of the world remain.’ Wherever one goes in Tuscany there is the sense of legend, for this is the land of the mysterious and ancient Etruscan civilisation, and many of the Tuscan tales have their roots in ‘the olden days’, having been told at the fireside from generation to generation.
One such legend is that of the black rooster of Chianti, which dates back to the 13th century. Then, Siena and Florence were engaged in a power struggle over who ruled Chianti. They came up with an idea to create a fair division of land: make the border between the two republics the midpoint between Florence and Siena. But how to determine the midpoint? Why, march a soldier from each city, of course, and where the two met draw the border. But for such a plan to work the two soldiers would have to leave their respective cities at exactly the same time. And in this era before synchronised clocks, the rooster would serve at the cue to walk – in both cities these birds would surely crow at the same time.
Perhaps the two roosters would have been in time, but for the Florentines, who hatched a cunning plan. They starved a black rooster in a darkened box for several days, so that on the day of the march, it awoke early out of hunger. The soldier marching for Florence set out in the dark as the rooster crowed, and he met his counterpart close to Siena’s city walls! And so it was that Florence came to dominate Chianti. Today, to commemorate this legend, the symbol of Chianti wine is the black rooster.
On the subject of roosters, do beware when in Tuscany a rooster lays an egg. Should this occur, legend tells that the egg will contain not a chick, but a Basilisco: a deadly serpent creature. Fans of Harry Potter will note that this Basilisco can kill through eye contact – but in variance to JK Rowling’s Basilisk, the Tuscan one has the head of a rooster. Supposedly, you’re most at risk of encountering one if the rooster lays a black egg on Christmas Day. Unlikely? Indeed. But then as JK Rowling wrote in The Order of the Phoenix, ‘Anything's possible…’
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-echoes-of-love-hannah-fielding/1117405658?ean=9780992671839
About the Author
Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveler, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
Her first novel, Burning Embers, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. Her new novel, The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany. It was picked by The Sun newspaper as one of the most romantic books ever written.
Social media links
See my review of her first novel here.