On a calm moonlit night, as the scent of jasmine and pine embraced the island of Ascension, the pirate prince Lazar di Fiori returns with lethal grace to avenge what was stolen from him: his kingdom, his birthright, his soul. . . .
Allegra Monteverdi, the daughter of Lazar’s sworn enemy, proves an uncommonly powerful adversary. She throws herself on his mercy, her courage and beauty touching his cold, unforgiving heart. He agrees to spare the lives of her family–but only if Allegra sails away with him as his captive. For his quest for vengeance still burns fiercely, and he will settle for nothing less than Allegra’s body and soul.
Alone at sea with this dark, intriguing man, moving between seduction and fear, Allegra gazes into eyes as deep and mysterious as the night and sees who this pirate really is. Lazar–the prince of her childhood dreams. Though he was rumored to be murdered years ago, she always believed someday he would return. But it will take more than her love for this pirate prince to bring peace to her beloved home. For Lazar must face the demons of his shattered past–if he is to forge the destiny that is theirs to claim. . . .
After a discussion on Twitter some weeks back, I decided to pick this up for a re-read. Although it’s been years, I remember this as a rich, fulfilling story of love and redemption. It’s always been my favorite of all Foley’s books.
Fifteen years ago, Prince Lazar di Fiore’s entire family was murdered right in front of him. He escaped by throwing himself off a cliff into the ocean. The intervening years have been anything but kind to him. Now he’s a ruthless pirate, and he’s back on Ascension with plans to wipe out the entire family of the man responsible for what happened to his family. A man who was once a trusted friend and adviser to his father. His plan is to kill Monteverdi’s daughter right in front of him, then execute the rest of his family – including all the women and children.
Allegra Monteverdi loves the people of Ascension. She wants nothing more than for the kingdom to prosper. Unfortunately, her father and fiance have different ideas. They don’t have the best interests of the people at heart. Allegra figures she can change that once she’s married and her husband becomes the governor of the land. Which is the only reason she’s agreed to go through with the wedding. The villagers are getting restless, however. As taxes go up and they starve, their anger and hatred toward her family increases. A full rebellion is on it’s way.
When a compelling stranger saves Allegra from being raped by her fiance, then kidnaps her, she assumes he’s part of the rebellion and quietly goes along with him. It isn’t until it’s too late that she realizes he’s there for another reason entirely. Yet even when she does realize, she can’t help but be drawn to him.
Lazar is surprised at the feelings Allegra stirs up inside of him. He’s there to exact revenge on his old enemy, but the more time he spends with Allegra the harder it becomes for him go through with the first part of his plan. Instead of killing her as he originally planned, Lazar whisks her away on his ship. What ensues is an epic saga, filled with angst, betrayal and…redemption?
As I said, I remember this book fondly. I got many hours of enjoyment out of Lazar and Allegra’s tale. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy it as much this time around. The first half of the book is emotional and heart-wrenching. Lazar’s struggle to go through with his revenge plot despite his extreme attraction and connection to Allegra is very touching. His internal angst comes across so well, I was fully immersed in it. When Allegra offers herself up in place of her family, my stomach literally clenched.
Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. Once Lazar takes Allegra aboard his ship, the constant back-and-forthing in their relationship becomes tiresome. Plus, there’s a lot going on with the plot. Once Allegra is convinced that Lazar truly is the long-lost prince, she’s determined that he go back and take his rightful place as king. But first he has to retrieve the only proof he has – his signet ring, which was stolen from him by the one man Lazar truly fears. Allegra’s fiance is still in the picture and determined to get her back and kill Lazar in the process. Allegra is dealing with the fact that he father truly did betray Lazar’s father. And he’s a pirate, so there are dangers on the high seas that have nothing to do with him being the prince.
As the story wore on I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with both Lazar and Allegra. Allegra is a very progressive female. She thinks women should have rights and fights for the peasants of Ascension. While this is very admirable, at times it seemed she was more concerned with the cause than with Lazar himself. She continually pushed him to go back and take his rightful place, but didn’t consider if that was the best thing for him. She often came across as self-righteous and a martyr for the cause. She was even willing to sacrifice herself – in becoming Lazar’s mistress – so that he could make an advantageous marriage. All without consulting Lazar, of course. In the beginning her zeal and independence were refreshing. Over time they became too much.
Similarly, in the beginning Lazar’s inner turmoil was justified and heartbreaking. The longer the novel wore on, however, the more it began to feel like a big pity party. He became too emo for me. His constant internal whining started to grate on my nerves. “I love her, but I can’t have her because everyone I love dies!” Wah Wah Wah. Cry me a freaking river. His thinking was illogical and depressing.
For all that, there were flashes of brilliance in the storytelling. Foley did manage to establish a strong emotional connection to her characters that kept me turning the pages. I just wish the story had ended 200 pages sooner.
While I still have fond memories of this story, I have to say it didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped it would. I don’t think I’ll re-read the other two books in the trilogy.
3.5 out of 5