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Robert Cecil, Secretary of State to James I, has a problem. He owes a vast and secret debt to the Prince of La Spada, who is dying and has called in the loan Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and Cecil cannot pay. Even worse, he has staked as security, without royal authority, the King's Great Pearl. To Cecil's surprise, the Prince will agree to a hostage but he wants Cecil's firemaster: Francis Quoynt, the best in his dangerous business. Cecil immediately seizes the chance, for Quoynt also serves as his spy.
La Spada is a wealthy, beautiful Italian city-state Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the gateway of Europe. Whoever controls the mountain passes of La Spada also controls the flow of intelligence and much of the trade from the Middle East. As his mind disintegrates into fantastic obsessions, the Prince makes his treacherous illegitimate son his heir. Which thwarts the deadly ambition of his daughter, Sofia Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the Principessa.
Sofia is young, seductive, wily and recently widowed. Already a blooded player of politics, she could outdo Lucretia Borgia in the lethal game of survival. Which she must now play to save herself and her beloved state. As unpredictable as gunpowder, will she choose to seek Francis's heart, or his life? Or both?
Publication date: 01/10/2007
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers
|Publication date:||1st October 2007|
Christie Dickason was born in the USA in the state of Indiana, but grew up in homes all over the world, including Mexico, Thailand (where she received formal dance instruction with a princess in the royal court of Bangkok), and Switzerland. Though she has written since the age of five, she began to take it seriously when she found herself seriously ill in hospital. In the following nine months of convalescence, she wrote her first, but unacknowledged, novel, which is composting quietly somewhere in a file drawer but led to a commission for the first published novel. Her first two ...More About Christie Dickason