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Is it alchemy that transforms fear into love?
Italy, 1565—Niccolo is a philosopher, a nobleman, and an honorable man. He’s also an alchemist—considered a heretic and an enemy of the church. When his beloved fiancée dies of a mysterious ailment on the eve of their wedding day, Niccolo loses all direction. Maddened by grief, he attempts a desperate, unthinkable act, one from which there is no turning back: transformation of the dead into the living…
Italy, 2015—While excavating a Renaissance-era burial site, Julia discovers a beautiful but mysterious carving. Wreathed in classic period symbols—a cross, a family crest, an open book—the piece contains another symbol she can’t quite place—an alembic—a type of distillation apparatus used in alchemy. Then she finds something else—a burial plaque commemorating the deaths of two people, a man and a woman. Curious, Julia continues to excavate the site, but before she can complete her work, something gives way beneath her and she falls…or is pulled…through the darkness and emptiness of time…
But when Julia turns up in the body of Niccolo’s fiancée, confusion battles with danger. Inextricably drawn to one another, Julia and Niccolo find solace in each other’s arms. But to love again, they’ll have to defy the deadly prejudice of others and the terrifying power of the Spanish Inquisition. Between love, loss, and murderous betrayal, can the alchemy of love create enough magic to save them?
Niccolo’s heart raced, pounding the walls of his chest. He willed it to calm. He needed to clear the raging blood from his head so he could think. In a soft leather pouch hanging from a thong around his neck and buried beneath his cloth, a small sapphire vial was concealed. Niccolo withdrew it now, never taking his eyes from his lover’s face.
Her perfect cheekbones, the nobility of her nose, and the fine twin arches of her brows combined with the chilly pallor of her skin and stillness of form to suggest she was not a creature of flesh, deserted by spirit, but a goddess sculpted in marble, serene in her eternal sleep.
His fingers trembled as he unstopped the bottle. He parted her lips and held the jewel to her mouth.
“God forgive me,” he whispered and tilted the bottle. The elixir had the color and luster of liquid gold with the capricious consistency of quicksilver. It ran out over her tongue and disappeared into her throat, leaving no trace except for one fine golden bead clinging like a gilded dewdrop to her lower lip. The vial was empty, the hollow sapphire glittered in the candlelight. Niccolo scrutinized the delicate fringe of Carolina’s sable lashes against her pale cheeks. He was close enough to feel her breath, had she any.
“Come back to me, my angel,” he murmured and placed his lips upon hers.
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