"His curse can not deceive the eyes of love"
There could be no doubt that Isabella Vernaducci would
gladly lay down her life in exchange for her brother's.
Lucca had been captured by the vile Don Rivellio, in
retaliation for her refusal to become his bride. Rivellio
had already laid claim to the Vernaducci lands and she
feared that her brother would be soon die from the Don's
cruel tortures. She had made every effort to gain Lucca's
release and had failed. Now she had but one recourse.
She would endure dangerous weather conditions, forge a
treacherous mountain path, brave wild beasts, to enlist the
aid of the only man who could help her now. She would gain
entrance to the forbidding palazzo of Don Nicolai Demarco
and do whatever the man bid, in exchange for her brother's
freedom. Strange rumors surrounded Don Demarco, it was said
that he the man could control the vicious beasts that dwelt
in his valley, and make them do his bidding.
Nicolai knows at once that this valiant maiden is the woman
destined to bear his heir, a woman he could easily love,
and because of his curse she would be destroyed by him. He
had seen it happen
before, had witnessed his own father kill his beloved wife
in cold blood. It was the fate of every Demarco couple.
Long ago an intangible evil had infiltrated the hearts and
minds of the people of the valley, stirring up jealousy and
hatred. Rumors had reached the then Don Demarco that his
wife had been unfaithful. The evil had infiltrated his
heart and made him doubt. His pride would not allow him to
believe in the innocence of the woman he loved. He had put
her to death, and with her last breath she had cursed him
and his descendants. He would become attuned to the beasts
and to all who looked upon him, he would appear as the
beast he had become. Each successive Don would share his
fate. They would be doomed to destroy the ones they cared
for most, until the day a woman came who could see only the
man, through the eyes of unconditional love. He should turn
Isabella away before it became too late.
In a moment of weakness Nicolai lays down his ultimatum. In
order to save her brother she must become his bride.
Isabella readily agrees although she insists that a
marriage is not necessary to gain her loyalty. Unlike the
villagers, who avert their eyes in his presence, Isabella
sees only a man tortured by the past and his fears for the
future. She sees his scars as a badge of courage, admires
his strength, and the beauty of his spirit. In spite of his
efforts to frighten her, to make her see the danger of
loving a man such as he, she refuses to give up on him
anymore than she would give up on her brother. For Isabella
love is unconditional, but her coming has reawakened the
evil that had spawned chaos in the valley so long ago, and
it would stop at nothing to deny their happiness. Once
again friend would turn against friend, lover against
as their greatest fears were called to the surface. Would
Isabella's love be strong enough to defeat the darkness
once and for all?
I loved this unique twist to the beauty and the beast tale.
Nicolai is an honorable man, the curse is not a result of
his own deeds, but a dreaded inheritance. He would rather
destroy himself than allow the woman he loves to come to
harm. Isabella is a woman of strength and determination,
she will hold on to those she loves with all her might,
refuse to allow them to succumb to despair. Together they
become a formidable force to overcome the dark side of
human nature, to remind one and all of the good that dwells
within each of them. LAIR OF THE LION will engross the
reader from beginning to end. It is a tale filled with
angst and inspiration, good reading at any time. I
encourage you to enter the Lion's lair.
Copyright © 2002
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted November 7, 2002
Impoverished aristocrat Isabella Vernaducci would defy death itself to rescue her imprisoned brother. Though fear formed a fist around her heart, she'd even brave the haunted, accursed lair of the lion - the menacing palazzo of legendary, lethal Don Nicolai DeMarco. . .
Rumor said the powerful don could command the heavens, that the beast below did his bidding. . . and that he was doomed to destroy the woman he took as his wife. It was whispered he was not wholly human - as untamed as his tawny mane and slashing amber eyes.
But Isabella met a man whose growl was velvet, purring heat, whose eyes held dark, all-consuming desire. And when the don commanded her to become his bride, she went willingly into his muscled arms, praying she'd save his tortured soul. . . not sacrifice her life. . .