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This was a very good story. I liked both Nicoletta and Giovanni and found their story to be well written and engaging. This doesn't really seem to have a tie to the Carpathians in the Dark series but both Giovanni and Nicoletta have certain "abilities" that may mean they had Carpathian ancestry.
Nicoletta is a young woman that serves as the healer for the village where she grew up. Her father was killed when she was too young to know him but her mother and aunt raised her with love until they both died. Since then, she's been mothered by another village woman, Maria Pia.
Don Giovanni Scarletti is the head of a family that's plagued by a curse. Many women and even some men have died in the last decade or 2 in his family home and there's an evil pall over it that's hard to escape. Giovanni never planned to marry because of the curse but when he meets Nicoletta for the first time, he's lost and is determined that they're meant to be together and that he will claim her as his.
Maria Pia was the village's midwife but Nicoletta has much better healing skills, some that are mystical enough that she could be branded a witch and killed for it. Nicoletta's village has always protected her secret and Maria Pia plays the senior healer while Nicoletta acts like the simpleminded assistant whenever they go outside of their village to heal someone. As this story begins, Nicoletta and Maria Pia have been called to the Don's home because of an illness. They get there to find the Don and his niece, Sophie, are both terribly sick. Nicoletta is able to determine that something was tainted in some soup they both ate and is able to heal them. Unfortunately, (at least in Nicolett'a opinion) this leads to Giovanni wanting to marry her and invoking the marriage covenant that allows the Don to claim any un-claimed woman in the local villages as his wife.
Nicoletta had already been skirting the advances of a couple of young men from her village and she truly had no interest in getting married. She had her garden in the hills and her healing and was perfectly content with that. When Giovanni claims Nicoletta, she's freaked at the idea of living in such a horrible place and she gets claustrophobia just thinking about it. Regardless of her fears, Giovanni wont let her go and she moves to his home and becomes his wife. There are multiple intrigues going on and it's hard for Nicoletta to know who to trust and if Giovanni is among the trustworthy. Giovanni is patient with her and since he has some abilities of his own, he doesn't have an issue with her abilities. It takes some time and persistence but Nicoletta and Giovanni are able to learn to trust each other and find the bad guy that's causing all the problems. They then end the story starting a well deserved HEA.
This was a very enjoyable story. I liked Nicoletta and thought she was pretty well balanced. She was a little too fearful of what was proper in the sex area at first for my taste but I guess with it being a historical it isn't unusual (thankfully, that didn't last long). Giovanni was a good hero...I wish we had been able to get some of this from his PoV, that would have been interesting. Overall, this was a very good story that I enjoyed a lot. I'd recommend it.
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