Bianca d’Angelo, a beautiful young woman known as “the fairest virgin in Florence,” knows that her father will soon arrange a marriage for his fourteen year old daughter. When Bianca’s sister overhears the details of the proposed union and reports back to her, Bianca is concerned, but concern quickly turns to horror when their elder brother comes to Bianca’s room with more news. She is to marry a man twice her age, a man with a well-earned dark reputation. In the days following her wedding, Bianca learns just how cruel and depraved her husband is, and she begins to think of how she can get away.
With the help of her family, Bianca escapes to a distant villa on the sea, seeking time and space to heal and avoid her husband. It is there that she meets Prince Amir, and their attraction is both mutual and instant. Bianca is mindful of her married status, but welcomes the Prince as a neighbor and friend. When Bianca’s despised husband, Rovere, finally finds her, Bianca declares that she would rather die than return to him. As it turns out, the matter is soon resolved, and Bianca is finally free to pursue a life with Prince Amir, a man her deeply religious Italian family considers an infidel.
It’s not easy for a Turkish prince and a Catholic widow to forge a union in 15th century Italy. Bianca’s mother warns the couple not to move forward with their relationship, but now that Bianca has found true love and passion, nothing will stand in her way…or so she thinks. What follows is months of separation, and although Bianca believes Amir’s pledge to come for her, she begins to worry that his pledge may never come to fruition. Time, trial and trickery all work together, and finally Bianca has her Prince. But happily ever after will not come easily to this couple.
Bianca is the first in author Bertrice Small’s new Silk Merchant’s Daughters series. Small effectively employs lush descriptions and historical details to bring readers right into the story, whether it’s in a Florentine merchant’s villa or a beautiful palace on the coast of Turkey. History and romance are beautifully combined and it is clear that the author has researched these two different societies extensively. Readers will appreciate the judicious use of historical detail that makes Bianca come to life on the pages of her story, and her journey from Italian piazza to Turkish harem is both unique and fascinating. It is no wonder that Bertrice Small has legions of devoted fans, and this series will only add more!