“I really have to recommend this novel. It’s beautiful and brilliant and I cannot find any flaws within the depths of the words.” ~ For the Passion of Romance
“This is one of those novels that draws you completely into the storyline and keeps you there throughout. I found myself walking in the main character’s shoes, living through the many trials that she found herself facing.” ~ Jonel Boyko
“Absolutely loved this book! It’s a historical, a mystery and a romance that peaks over and over again with every chapter.” ~ Literary Chanteuse
A Story of Vengeance, Forgiveness, and Love
After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin—a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father’s last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead—and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.
VENICE IN THE MOONLIGHT takes you back to eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.
Gatti Family Villa Near Verona, Italy, September 1, 1753
Marietta Gatti smashed a pea with the back of her silver spoon. Across the mahogany dining table, her husband Dario’s unfaithful eyes simmered with lust as the young maid served the evening meal. When the girl replenished his crystal wine glass, his fingertips brushed against her skin, lingering longer than well-bred manners allowed. Marietta fisted the linen napkin in her lap while Dario’s parents, sitting on opposite ends of the table, ignored the antics of their only child.
The maid’s rosy cheeks and full pouty lips reflected the child she once was, but her body showed the curves of the woman she would be. Dario liked them young, naïve, and fully ripe for the picking—as a barely fifteen-year-old Marietta was when they first met.
Drawn to his thick, dark eyelashes and heavy coin purse, these girls came willingly to Dario. Six . . . seven . . . eight . . . Marietta crushed a pea for each dalliance in their five long years of marriage. When she finished the tally, only two peas remained whole. At least his affairs kept him out of her bed most nights.
Admittedly, she welcomed his affections at first, considering she was the daughter of an artist who hadn’t painted in two years. Dario courted her as any other respectable nobleman would with nights at the opera in Venice and strolls by the Grand Canal on Sunday afternoons. However, he couldn’t conceal his faults forever, and when they became obvious, she wanted no part of the man. By then, it was too late. Her father insisted a bad marriage was better than starvation, and she couldn’t change his mind.
Dario’s disrespect bothered her the most. Her father cherished her mother until the devastating day that she died when Marietta was only thirteen. She assumed her own marriage would be the same, full of love and laughter, but it wasn’t. Now, she spent her days and nights trying to survive the cold-heartedness of the Gatti family.
Marietta relaxed the grip on her napkin and pushed at the lamb on her plate. When bloody juice oozed from the meat, she let out a small sigh and reached for a piece of bread instead.
At the break in the room’s silence, her mother-in-law’s head snapped up, almost dislodging the mountain of dark curls that compensated for her diminutive height. The black beauty patch that she carefully applied to her painted white cheek each morning twitched in displeasure before she returned her attention to her dinner.
As the older woman’s teeth worked the lamb in her mouth, her bony face grew more repulsed with each chew until she finally spit into her napkin. She pointed her knife at the maid. “Where did Cook get this meat?”
Dario’s latest amusement clutched the pitcher of wine to her bosom and gaped wide-eyed at the elder Signora Gatti.
Marietta’s stomach churned, as it always did when La Signora’s temper rose. Though the maid was inconsiderate enough to flirt in front of her, Marietta wouldn’t wish her mother-in-law’s anger on anyone.
When the girl couldn’t find the courage to answer his mother, Dario intervened. He drained his wine glass in one gulp and held it out to give the girl something to do besides tremble. “You don’t like it, Mama?”
Dario slurred his words ever so slightly, which was never good this early in the evening. If he continued to pursue the maid, she would be in for a rough night. Marietta didn’t know what Dario loved more—wine or young women—but there was no denying the explosive result when the two mixed. She needed to tell the housekeeper to keep the girl busy and out of reach until the morning hours.
“It tastes spoiled.” La Signora dropped her cutlery onto the plate. “Take it away.”
The girl hastened to the opposite end of the table and whisked the offending food out of the room.
Dario sliced off a large piece of lamb and stuck it in his mouth. Between chews, he said, “It seems fine to me. What do you think, Papa?”
Marietta almost forgot Dario’s father was there. The old man’s chin rested on his chest, rising and falling with each soft snore. With his sparse snow-white hair and a habit of napping at will, Marietta figured he was in his early seventies, a good twenty years older than La Signora. Obviously, Dario inherited his love of young things from the man.
She sniffed at her own meat and wrinkled her nose at the odd smell emanating from it. No matter, she’d had enough, though she hated missing one of Cook’s delicious desserts. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling a bit tired. I think I’ll retire early tonight.”
Her mother-in-law snorted derisively.
Dario gave her a few blurry-eyed blinks before he remembered his duty. When he stood too fast, the dinner wine rushed to his head. He grabbed the edge of the table to steady his teetering. “May I escort you upstairs?”
She shook her head. “No, please, finish your meal.”
Before Marietta reached the doorway, the maid slipped back into the dining room and reclaimed Dario’s attention. The girl’s ruined reputation was worth more than the few coins she would receive from him. But Marietta’s warnings had gone unheeded by previous maids, so she had no faith that this one would listen. She pressed her lips together to silence her frustration and gratefully left the room.