Title: The Duel for Consuelo
Author: Claudia H. Long
Series: Tendrils of the Inquisition Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance
Publisher: Five Directions Press
Release Date: Aug 9 2011
Editions/Formats: 1st Edition ~ Formats eBook & Print
A heart-stopping story of love and betrayal in the time of the Inquisition.
Consuelo, beautiful healer, is trapped by her family's history of conversion at the point of a sword. Born to a Crypto-Jewish mother, raised as a Christian, and bound to her family's traditions, Consuelo struggles with her loyalties and the pull of the Enlightenment. She sees the possibilities of love and fulfillment, but when her mother's secret is discovered she is forced to put her love and her very life at risk to save her mother.
This story brings the struggle to life and showcases the beauty, terror, courage and sacrifice that honor and family demand in the final decades of the ruthless scourge of the Inquisition.
~ * ~
Huge double doors fronted the building and one of the young men opened them, bowing her through. She took a breath and stepped across the threshold into a dark hall. Her eyes took a moment to adjust, and she made out wall hangings to the right, a set of tall windows, and an enormous staircase leading up from the left.
A grey-haired nun sat at a desk in the front of a grand hall, just inside the door. "Good evening, Señorita Costa. Bienvenida. Abelardo will show you to your room. Abelardo!" A young man about her age approached. "Take Señorita Costa to the nuns' wing."
He raised his eyebrows and looked her up and down insolently. "Come, sweetheart. Let's go to your new home." Consuelo stared at him. No one had ever spoken to her that way. "I don't think you will mind the nuns, they're not too bad with girls of quality. And quality is what you are."
"Mind your words," she answered sharply. How dare he? She looked over at the nun at the desk, hoping for intercession. The old woman adjusted the monocle she was using to see the visitor's book she held in front of her, but said nothing.
"Oh, come on, darlin'. Don't go all prim and proper on me. You mustn't have been so high and mighty when your boyfriend came around at night, huh? I can see how a piece like you could get in trouble, a long tall drink of tart lemonade!"
Finally the nun interceded. "Abelardo, that's enough. I am sorry, Señorita. Abelardo, take Señorita Costa to the nuns' wing now, and not another word out of you."
"Yes, sister," Abelardo said, not the least bit meekly. "This way, my lady."
Consuelo lifted her chin and turned to follow him. They passed the tall windows, and the grand entry, open and cavernous, gave way to a smaller, stone paved hallway, with tapestries hanging on the whitewashed walls. There was a drifting aroma of candle wax and powder. They walked in silence past a set of tall double doors that stood open to a room with a pianoforte and comfortable looking chairs. "The music room," Abelardo said, gesturing to the piano. The next set of doors, even larger, was closed. "The library," Abelardo said. "More books than any one body should read." They made another turn and the appetizing smell of tortillas wafted by. Consuelo's stomach growled and she realized how hungry she was. She had consumed nothing but the cup of chocolate at the inn since breakfast.
"Got to feed the tummy, eh? Or are you still at the upchuck phase?" "Silence, Abelardo," she said, as if to a barking dog. He laughed. "You'll get plenty to eat, that's for sure. These sisters know all about eating for two. Soon you'll be waddling down the halls, unable to find your embroidery needle under your big belly!"
At last they came to a curtain. "Hello, good sisters!" he called. "I've got your latest sinner!"
"Oh my goodness, Abelardo, you fool. Shut your mouth and get back to the gate. I am so sorry," said a voice on the other side of the curtain. A hand reached around and opened the drape. A tiny woman, perhaps as high as Consuelo's elbow, with a grey veil and habit, looked up at her. "Señorita Costa?"
"Come in, my dear. Get out of here, fool!" she said to Abelardo. He winked at Consuelo and turned away. "Come in here," she repeated to Consuelo. "Ignore him, he's an absolute boor. Brought up by a footman from the era of the former Marqués. There's no dismissing him, he's a family servant, but he's a vulgar piece of work. I am sorry he was on gate duty when you arrived. But now you're here. Let's make you welcome."
~ * ~
Claudia Long is the author of Josefina's Sin, The Duel for Consuelo, The Harlot's Pen, and Chains of Silver. Three of these take place in Colonial Mexico during the Inquisition. She lives in Northern California where currently practices law as a mediator for employment and housing discrimination cases as well as complex business disputes. She is married and has two grown children and one magnificent grandchild.