Sean and Stone Chronicles #2
1459. A gifted woman artist. A ruthless Scottish privateer. And an audacious plan that throws them together—with dangerous consequences.
No one on the Greek island of Rhodes suspects Anica is responsible for her Venetian father’s exquisite portraits, least of all her wealthy fiancé. But her father’s vision is failing, and with every passing day it’s more difficult to conceal the truth.
When their secret is discovered by a powerful knight of the Order of St. John, Anica must act quickly to salvage her father’s honor and her own future. Desperate, she enlists the help of a fierce Scottish privateer named Drummond. Together, they craft a daring plan to restore her father’s sight.
There’s only one problem—she never imagined falling in love with her accomplice.
Before their plan can unfold, a shocking scandal involving the knights puts Anica’s entire family at risk. Her only hope is to turn to Drummond once again, defying her parents, her be-trothed, even the Grand Master of the Knights himself. But can she survive the consequences?
Anica awoke to the gentle sound of the bedchamber door shutting. She thrust a hand in Heleni’s direction—but her sister was not in the bed. Her eyes fluttering open, she glanced at the shutters. The first light of dawn seeped through the cracks.
She slipped out of bed and unlatched the shutters, peering at the enclosed yard where they hung their laundry out to dry. Today was Tuesday. The soap man would soon make his rounds along the alley behind the house, peddling his product. It was high-quality soap made of olive oil, lye from the ashes of a scrubby beach plant, and essence of lavender.
Trumpets blared up the hill at the palace, making her flinch. Here, in the heart of the knights’ quarter, the presence of the Order was inescapable. She knew that should make her feel safer. Instead, it gave her a perpetual feeling of dread.
An orange cat stepped daintily along the top of the wall, then leapt into the alleyway and disappeared. Anica stretched her arms over her head and yawned just as the soap man’s lilting cry rang out. Through the window, she saw Maria heading toward the gate leading to the alley. Then Heleni appeared and overtook her, unlatched the gate, and went outside. Her sister returned a moment later with the sack of soap, lugged it past Maria, and vanished.
Anica lingered at the window, watching Maria slowly spin around, her face twisted in a scowl. Slipping on a shawl, she hastened downstairs, bare feet silent on the floor.
Outside the kitchen, she nearly collided with her sister.
“Why did you fetch the soap, Heleni?” Anica asked.
“Maria has so much to do on laundry day. And I was up early. I needed the fresh air, anyway.”
Heleni sauntered off.
Inside the kitchen, Maria stood at the table, spooning yogurt into a ceramic dish. The sack of soap lay in the shadows near the back door.
“Maria,” Anica said quietly. “I know my sister. She never helps with chores unless she’s forced to.”
Maria set down the spoon. She crossed to the hearth and stabbed at the glowing embers with the iron poker until a flame ignited.
“The wind blows where it wants, when it wants.” She kept her back to Anica. “I’m glad for the help, whatever the reason for it.”
* * *
Anica entered the studio a few moments later to find her father at his easel next to the window. He stood less than a hand’s breadth from the panel, squinting earnestly as he daubed a bit of paint on the face of a saint. At her approach, he lowered his brush, looking at her with consternation.
“Papa, you must leave this sort of work to me,” she said. “We’ve already agreed I shall be your eyes.”
His shoulders drooped. “I thought with this brighter space my problem would be solved,” he admitted. “But instead it grows worse, I’m afraid.” He fumbled with the purse at his waist, pulled out a letter with a broken seal, and handed it to her.
She unfolded the square of linen paper and studied it. “Signor Salviati wishes to have a notary draw up a contract for the oil paintings I mentioned.”
He stared at her in distress. “I’ve no idea how to work with oils. It’s not easy to learn a technique without a master to guide you.”
She put a hand on his arm. “But you are a master, Papa!”
“A master with failing vision,” he said miserably.
“We must learn the technique,” Anica urged him. “The Salviatis may be the first to ask, but others will follow. We’d be foolish not to accept this commission. Who do you know in this city with an oil painting hanging on his wall?”
He considered that. “Three merchants have bragged to me of such works. A German, a Flemish man recently come from Bruges, and a Genoese.”
“Let’s pay them each a visit,” Anica suggested. “Between us, we can work out how it’s done.”
Thank you, Amy Maroney and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an award-winning historical fiction trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Her new historical suspense/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.
Amazon Author Page: author.to/AmyMaroneyAmazonPage
This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited
Universal Link: https://mybook.to/SeaOfShadows