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Love Isn't a Fairy Tale - an Editorial Review of "The Taste of Light"

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Book Blurb:

Portugal, 1872

An aristocrat haunted by his sins…

After losing his bride to a hated Englishman, Pedro Daun shuts himself in his winemaking property. Drowning in port, he hopes to find oblivion from his murky past in Mozambique.

A girl with dawn in her eyes…

Kind and whimsical, Anne Maxwell moves to the Douro to help her new sister-in-law. She dreams of finding the perfect suitor to give her the unconditional love she never had.

Shadows can taste light…

A twist of fate brings them together. Anne glimpses in Pedro's eyes a yearning for love that rivals her own, but the cynical Fidalgo isn't the perfect prince of her dreams. Pedro craves Anne's touch more than the air he breathes, but he is unwilling to soil his angel with the sins from his past.

A conspiracy is revealed…

A false accusation turns them into fugitives. Running from a treacherous enemy, they plunge into an ocean of intrigue to prove Pedro's innocence. As their passion grows, Anne discovers that love isn't the perfect matter of fairy tales. But can Pedro forgive himself for his past and allow Anne into his heart?

Author Bio:

Stories are the very fabric of life. I want to transport readers to exotic settings, where they can find romance and happy endings and hopefully bring some back to their daily lives. Portugal brims with beauty and passion, and I research every tiny detail of my novels, hoping to make the reader treasure my grandparents’ country as I do. I have a loving husband who still is my hero and two amazing kids. When it’s cold and rainy, I run inside to read and watch movies under blankets, sipping wine. You can find me on the beach during summer, surfing with my family.

Editorial Review:

Light flickered over the blade, glinting off the family motto – non ducor duco. Never the conquest, always the conqueror. Fingers around the grip, hand engulfed by the cross guard, Pedro was in his element. War. In a muddy plain, in a ravine, in a dispatch room, be it fought with a sword, a rifle, or a pen, this was what he was made for.

In this continuing saga set in the exquisite surroundings of the vineyards of the Duoro region in Portugal, in the late 1800s, this lovely tried-and-true historical romance charges like a bull from page one, and you are swept into a Portuguese arena of haunting past secrets, of political intrigue and assassination attempts, as well as the loyal relationship between brothers, and the fierce intensity of love which develops like a Tango dance.

Pedro Daun, the Count of Almoster, a devastatingly handsome nobleman fights with the secrets of his past, shunning close relationships due to some decisions that were made while he served in far-off Mozambique, decisions involving slave trading... and his brooding nature, as well as his past heartbroken relationship with Julia (from the first novel, “The True Purpose of Vines”) leaves him believing that he will never find true happiness and love.

There is much you don't know about my past with Almoster. But I can tell you this. I remember the five of you stuttering out of the frigate that ripped you from your mamas and took you to Mozambique ten years ago. Fresh from your military academies, shoulders crowned by diamond studded epaulets, and no stitch of beard in your cheeks. I liked how the reality of that godforsaken place dimmed the brightness of your eyes... but not Pedro Daun. The Count of Almoster. Up on the hill, he thought himself a new Caesar.”

Enter Anne Maxwell, a young virginal beauty with golden hair, a true fairy-tale romantic, who comes to see about the vineyard in Julia's place, since Julia, her sister-in-law, is pregnant and unable to make the trip to check on the plagued vineyards. Yet Anne steps into Pedro's life and into the midst of a whirlwind. Before she knows it, someone is out to get Pedro, accusing him of plotting to kill the King, and Anne is embroiled in the melee. She must flee with him in order to save her own life, as the assailants target her, as well.

What brightened their smiles, Anne had been the first to discover. Behind Pedro's aloof armor lived a man, fiercely loyal, protective, and noble, who loved with the same intensity he fought. She wasn't jealous to share this side of Pedro with the world. While everyone could be dazzled by him, only Anne could touch all his nuances, drench her palate with his reserved playfulness, and immerse herself in his scorching lovemaking. Only she could taste his light.

As she journeys with Pedro, and his brother, Cris, she learns more and more about this man and more about herself than she ever imagined, from Duoro to a perilous ocean voyage to the streets of Lisbon and the bull-fighting arena. Her ideals of the perfect “Prince," one who sweeps her off her feet, is shattered to pieces, yet she comes to understand how her girlish naivety morphs into a maturity and a strength she never knew she had in her, and the man she falls in love with is just as flawed as any other human... yet those hidden nuances, those reserved just for her, spark an unbelievable passion. She becomes Pedro's “Angel of Light," and the allusion to the true tragic love story of Dom Pedro and Ines de Castro weaves like a thread through the entire storyline.

She closed her eyes, trying to picture the faceless gentleman that had accompanied her since her heart had begun dreaming of fairytale love. But she could only see Pedro's sharp edges – a warrior, a cynic, a fugitive. A future with him would not be the comfortable, gentle family life she had envisioned with her perfect gentleman. Pedro would be a dictator to his wife, but only when it concerned her safety. He would also demand a woman's constant guidance to understand his emotions and respect hers. A future with him would not b frictionless.

In both characters, you get the sense of transformation, and the narrative traverses a very well-defined arc, with the conflict leaving you quite breathless... not to mention the steamy encounters between Anne and Pedro which compare to the heart, mind, body, and soul bonding of such characters like Jamie and Claire Fraser of Outlander fame. In other words, the tension of the conflicts, as well as the love, will send goose flesh racing as you anticipate the final culmination of this love story. Also, this story can be read as a stand-alone, without ever having read “The True Purpose of Vines,” but to get a full-bodied experience (in every respect), reading both books is highly recommended.


“The Taste of Light” by Giovanna Siniscalchi receives five stars from The Historical Fiction Company and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence



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