Masquerade by Hannah Fielding
A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire.
Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy’s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.
Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?
Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive?
In the still of the night, under a velvet sky studded with stars like diamonds and a bright golden moon hanging in the heavens like a big porcelain saucer, Leandro rode to L’Estrella, holding Luz to him on his jet-black stallion. The sea was quiet, the air soft with an all-pervasive smell of iodine and seaweed. They made their way, corkscrewing along the empty cobbled backstreets of Cádiz that snaked uphill to the top of the cliffs. There, L’Estrella lay; the focal point of an enchanting setting, a tiny jewel-like circular house in calm seclusion, halfway between fascinating reality and a mirage. Its whitewashed walls gleamed almost luminous under the full moon and a faint breeze whispered through the cluster of almond trees fringing the entranceway.
The house was dark. Luz was still asleep – the concoction must have been strong, his mother perhaps a little heavy-handed with the herbs. Leandro was perplexed: no one seemed to be waiting up for her. The lights were off but the front gate was wide open. He quietly steered Ventarrón to a Holm oak in the courtyard. Carefully leaning Luz forward against the stallion’s mane and holding on to her with one hand, he slid to the ground. With the other, Leandro tied the horse to the trunk of the tree and then carried the young woman into the hacienda.
The grounds of the villa were all steps and corners, arches and angles, linked by patios and punctuated by sweet-smelling shrubs and orchard trees. He walked up to the house and circled round it: the place seemed deserted. Gently hitching Luz closer to him, he searched her pockets for a key, but there was none – it must have spilled out with the fall. He was toying with the idea of taking her back to camp when he noticed, in the light of the moon, Zeyna grazing on one of the expanses of grass at the edge of the garden. The creature lifted its head and regarded Leandro for a few moments as horses do before lowering it again to the ground. ‘Well, at least the mare is back,’ he muttered to himself.
As he turned with Luz in his arms a veranda draped in wisteria caught his eye, flanked by a handsome flight of stone steps. He climbed to the top of them and was relieved to find a French window slightly ajar. Nudging it open with his foot, he gazed into the moonlit room. It was a bedroom – Luz’s bedroom by the look of it. He walked in.
She was still fast asleep against his shoulder. He laid her carefully on the bed and slowly removed her riding boots. He spotted a blanket neatly folded on a chest next to the window and gently tucked it around her. For a moment he stood there, feasting his eyes on the ripe perfection of his Sleeping Beauty. Her eyes were closed, her mouth pink, and thick dark lashes feathered against her pale face. She was lovely, but unconscious and remote. What would she, a rich gajo, say if she woke to find that he had brought her home and was standing in her bedroom alone with her? What had she thought of him when she had looked his way? She fascinated him. He stretched out a cautious hand and touched her silky black hair. A slight frown creased his brow and he hesitated, then stooped and gently, ever so gently, brushed her soft, parted lips with a kiss. There was a hint of worship in his caress.
Hannah Fielding bio
Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.
To date, Hannah has published four novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in Italy; and Indiscretion and Masquerade (from the Andalusian Nights Trilogy), her fieriest novels yet. She is currently working on her forthcoming book, Legacy, the final title in the trilogy, which is due to be published in spring 2016.