Shortlisted for Book of the Month
AMAZONUK £1.85 £1.88
AMAZONUS $2.43 $18.50
Nautical / Fictional Saga / Thriller
Rome / Amsterdam / Europe
In the mid-17th Century, Holland suffered from a financial 'bubble' whereby tulip bulbs were sold for prices that would have bought a small house before the bubble burst and they became worthless. This is fact and is the backdrop for J G Harlond's entertaining novel in which she attributes the phenomenon to a plot devised by the Spanish who were at war with the Dutch. The Vatican is also involved.
Ludovico da Portovenere – Ludo – is the man chosen by the conspirators to engineer the disaster. He is recruited by a modest priest who only wants to return to England. Ludo is an Italian merchant: resourceful, not averse to some dodgy dealings, charming and expendable. Accompanied by a Spanish lad, Marcos, who wishes to better himself and a beautiful Spanish woman, Alina, of diminished status whom he rescues from slavers. Whilst depositing the priest to his home, Ludo arranged for Alina to marry a weak-chinned son of an English nobleman. Needless to say, money changes hands but Ludo intends, one day, to return for her.
Here the book splits in two: Alina's trials in a strange country are inter-weaved with Ludo's successes in Holland. Add in a perverted steward and a cook who may or may not be a witch and we have some grand characters who all contribute to a tumultuous finale.
I had one or two minor nit-pick niggles, but nothing that spoiled my enjoyment of this, recommended read. The cover proclaims this to be part of a trilogy, though there are no indications within the pages of the back cover blurb as to any further volumes.
© Richard Tearle
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