1459. A gifted woman artist. A ruthless Scottish privateer. And an audacious plan that throws them together—with dangerous consequences.
No one on the Greek island of Rhodes suspects Anica is responsible for her Venetian father’s exquisite portraits, least of all her wealthy fiancé. But her father’s vision is failing, and with every passing day it’s more difficult to conceal the truth.
When their secret is discovered by a powerful knight of the Order of St. John, Anica must act quickly to salvage her father’s honor and her own future. Desperate, she enlists the help of a fierce Scottish privateer named Drummond. Together, they craft a daring plan to restore her father’s sight.
There’s only one problem—she never imagined falling in love with her accomplice.
Before their plan can unfold, a shocking scandal involving the knights puts Anica’s entire family at risk. Her only hope is to turn to Drummond once again, defying her parents, her betrothed, even the Grand Master of the Knights himself. But can she survive the consequences?
With this captivating tale of passion, courage, and loyalty, Amy Maroney brings a lost, dazzling world to vivid life.
Sea of Shadows is Book 2 in a series of stand-alone historical novels packed with adventure and romance.
During their morning meal in the courtyard, Papa said little, clearly preoccupied by their upcoming errand. Heleni fiddled with her spoon, tapping it against the side of her dish of yogurt.
Mamá’s gaze settled on Anica. “After you return, you and I will go to Aunt Rhea’s. She has some items for your dowry trunk.”
Anica swallowed. “Does this mean—”
Papa scraped the last bit of yogurt from his dish. “Nothing is certain. We’ve had inquiries from a few interested parties, that’s all.”
Tightness constricted Anica’s ribs. “Who are they?”
Mamá shook her head. “There is no point discussing anyone until we’ve come to an agreement over his suitability.”
Heleni put down her spoon with a thunk. “I don’t think it’s fair. Why doesn’t Anica get to choose her suitor? When it’s my turn to wed, I shall have a love match.”
“Any marriage can become a love match over time,” Mamá retorted. “And any love match can turn sour. The fates will turn our plans upside down—that is all we can count on. A match arranged by family is safer than one sparked by a lovesick young woman.” When Heleni opened her mouth to protest, Mamá waved a dismissive hand in the air. “No, Heleni, I won’t hear another word. You will come to understand the wisdom of what I’ve said one day, I promise you.”
Anica expelled a long, low breath, thrilled at her mother’s display of spirit. After all these months of wandering the house like a hollowed-out shell, Mamá was coming back to herself. Stealing a glance at Papa, Anica saw him staring at her mother with a mixture of tenderness and pride.
“Was your marriage a love match?” she blurted out.
“For me, it was,” Papa said without hesitation. “I knew the first moment I clapped eyes on your mother that I would marry her. It took a while to convince her family I was suitable, though.”
“Why?” Heleni pushed her cup and dish away and leaned her elbows on the table.
“I was new to Rhodes. I was Venetian. I was an artist. The list goes on.” Papa let out a wry chuckle. “I had to work hard to get my foot in the door of the Georgillas household.”
Mamá smiled at him, her brown eyes lighting up. “Once you learned Greek and secured your first patrons, things went smoothly enough. Your talent dazzled my family, and your kind heart captivated me. I’ve never had a moment of regret for the choice my family made for me.”
“Didn’t your family want you to marry a Greek man, not a Latin?” Anica asked.
“They wanted to make a match that would benefit not just me, but the whole family.” Mamá leveled her gaze at Anica. “That is what a good marriage does. It’s not just for the husband and wife.”
Papa threw his napkin on the table and got up. “Wise words indeed. Now, Anica, let us be on our way.”
* * *
To their disappointment, the German and Flemish merchants were not at home. Anica’s purposeful strides faltered a bit as they set out through the streets one more time and finally drew up before the doors of the Genoese merchant’s residence. At Papa’s signal, she lifted the iron door knocker and let it fall. It was an interesting ornament, crafted in the shape of a dragon’s head. Perhaps it had been inspired by tales of a dragon a knight had supposedly slain in Rhodes long ago.
A servant admitted them and they were ushered into the parlor, a spacious room overlooking the central courtyard. Two impressive oak armchairs sat on either side of a hearth topped with a carved stone mantel.
On the wall opposite the hearth hung a portrait. Before Anica could study it closely, the Genoese merchant swept into the room. He was dressed entirely in black. She had met this merchant and his wife at church a few times and recalled being impressed by their pleasant manners and fine clothing.
“Signor Foscolo, Signorina Foscolo,” he said to them. “You are very welcome in my home. May I offer you refreshment?”
Papa shook his head. “We are sorry to infringe on your privacy when you are in mourning, Signor Lomellini,” he said uncertainly, gesturing at the man’s black velvet doublet and hose. “I was not aware . . .”
“I welcome the distraction,” the merchant said politely, though his expression sagged a bit. “My dear wife perished in Genoa six months ago. She was ill for some time, and despite the care of the best doctors in the city, I could not save her in the end. I’ve only just returned to Rhodes. It took some time for me to find the will to travel.”
“You have our condolences,” Papa murmured.
The man eyed Papa’s clothing with a thoughtful air. “And you are in mourning as well, signor.”
Papa nodded. “Our little boy died six months ago, too.” His eyes glinted in the sunlight pouring in from the courtyard. Anica prayed he would not begin to weep.
The merchant sucked in a breath. “God rest his soul.” He looked at Anica, allowing Papa to gather himself again. “As difficult as it is, life must go on, mustn’t it? Let us talk of other things. How can I be of service to you?”
Anica felt a rush of gratitude at his understanding tone. Observing that her father was still regaining his composure, she said, “We came to look at your portrait. Is it made with oils?”
Signor Lomellini nodded. “It’s the work of a Flemish artist who is making a fortune off all the merchants of Genoa. A talented man. You’re welcome to examine it.”
Anica stepped closer to him, inspecting the portrait. Signor Lomellini stood but an arm’s length away. She could smell the faint scent of cypress wood on his clothes. It was a scent she had always loved.
Papa came to her side. They both studied the painting in silence. It was a modestly sized portrait of the merchant and his wife, an interior scene. While the composition was not remarkable, the details and lighting were exquisitely rendered.
“What a lovely portrait,” Anica said, breaking the quiet. “The artist has captured your wife’s image perfectly.”
“Yes.” Signor Lomellini’s voice thickened with emotion. “She was so young, so lively, so happy. I still imagine I hear the tread of her slippers on the stairs or her laughter when I first wake. But of course, it is all in my mind.”
“It’s the same for us,” Anica said. “My brother was so full of life. It scarcely seems possible that he’s no longer in this world.”
Papa made a humming sound in the back of his throat. “But we descend into sorrow again, and that is not what we came here for,” he said. “Signor Lomellini, I’m eager to paint using oils, but I’ve never been trained in the technique. I thought perhaps by studying such a work, I would gain insight into how it is done.”
“Ah! An excellent idea,” said the merchant. “I can tell you what I recall from our sittings with the artist. He spoke of making many layers using slightly different hues of paint, of the time it took to let the layers dry. He claimed that by using all those layers, he could create an impression of depth and light that are impossible with the old ways.”
“He was right,” Anica said, her eyes on the portrait again.
The painted figures were bathed in light from an open window, their faces glowing with lifelike radiance. On the table before the couple stood a silver pitcher, a glass beaker of wine, and an arrangement of flowers. Anica moved closer, scrutinizing a detail.
“Is that a man’s image reflected in the beaker?” she asked in disbelief.
Signor Lomellini let out a delighted chuckle. “You’ve spotted it! Yes, the artist put his reflection into the portrait. It’s a trick these northern artists use. One I find quite amusing.”
Anica looked at him sideways. His smile was so engaging that it made him look boyish, though there were fine lines around his eyes. She was comfortable in his presence, as if she had known him a long time.
A servant entered with wine.
“Ah! Please join me for a cup of wine,” Signor Lomellini said. “I can have another chair brought in, and the three of us can talk about the portrait, the artist, and his ways. Ask me anything . . . anything at all.”
Anica glanced at Papa, willing him to say yes, and her heart leaped at his next words.
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Meet Amy Maroney
Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an award-winning historical fiction trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Her new historical suspense/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.
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