Author: Claudia H Long
Series: Josefina's Sin, The Next Generation
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Release Date: June 15 2014
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Travel back in time to 1711 in colonial Mexico, where the terrors of the Inquisition are slowly receding before the tide of the Enlightenment.
Not receding fast enough, though, for Consuelo. She's caught between two men, two religions, and two ruthless inquisitors who are hanging on to their lasts shreds of power.
THE DUEL FOR CONSUELO brings us to 1711 in colonial Mexico. Consuelo, an accomplished herbalist and daughter of a mayor, is privy to the darkest family secret possible while the Inquisition still holds fast to its waning dominance. Her ailing mother is a practicing "Secret Jew", descendent of Conversos, or Jews who converted in Spain at the point of a sword. Her father is desperate to prevent the discovery of this secret as it will mean certain torture and possible death of his family.
Juan Carlos Castillo, the white-blond son of wealthy landowners, has a few secrets of his own. His love for Consuelo has moved into forbidden territory, and he watches as his friend and rival, Leandro Almidon of Spain, woos Consuelo with his sharp wit and promises of social and financial security.
The times are turbulent. The Enlightenment is slowly penetrating the darkness of Spain and its colony, and new thinkers are questioning everything, from religion to science, to the mingling of the castes and races. With new thinking secrets are bared and the Inquisition makes a final grasp at power. Consuelo finds herself fighting for her mother's life, her own future, and her right to love.
Claudia H. Long grew up in Mexico City and moved to the United States when she was eleven. She wrote her senior thesis at Harvard University on the feminism of Sor Juana INS De La Cruz, and revived her passion for her when she wrote Josefina's Sin. She lives and practices law in Northern California with her husband. They have two grown children. She is currently at work on her next novel, set in eighteenth century Mexico.
She was sure she saw a light flicker before she actually heard the door open. She lifted her head, for a moment unsure of where she was. The aroma of the herbs and spices reminded her that she was in the Castillo pantry, an odd enough location to warrant disorientation, without taking into account her exhaustion after the stresses of the past two days. She waited silently, intending to let the approaching figure take whatever it was she was looking for. She assumed it was Cayetana, or even Doña Josefina, come looking for some staple from the pantry. Perhaps a green to make a tea from, to soothe a troubled tummy or a restless sleeper.
The figure turned to the side, going around the couch where Leila lay in deep, sound slumber, and Consuelo started with surprise. The figure was a male, and in an instant she had no doubt it was Juan Carlos. "What are you doing here?" she whispered.
"Shh." He put the candle down on the desk. Consuelo looked up from the pallet. It was on the floor of the pantry so she was at Juan Carlos' feet. She moved to sit, pulling the heavy blanket up with her. She was wearing only her chemise, and her long chestnut hair was braided loosely down her back. This was no way to receive a visitor.
Juan Carlos knelt on the edge of the pallet. "Shh," he repeated. "Don't make a sound. You will wake your mother."
"What do you want?" Consuelo said quietly.
"Consuelo," he said. She waited. "I've been gone so long. I didn't know what I would find on my return." He put his hand on her shoulder and she leaned her face into his arm. She felt her pulse race.
"There is time for this in daylight," she whispered.
"I leave at dawn." He stroked her hair. "Our futures. They are forever intertwined."
Consuelo held her breath, waiting for the words that would justify this visit. No further words came. "Is that what you want?" she asked.
His hand lingered on her shoulder, then slid down to her breast. Her breath caught in and her whole body tensed. "I think you know." He slipped his hand under her chemise.
"Are you out of your mind?" she hissed.
He put his fingers to her lips. "Your mother's hard won rest should not be disturbed. There are few guests left so she would be the only one on this side of the house who would hear us. We could go to my room but I am still sharing it with Leandro and I have no intention of sharing you as well."
"We are not going anywhere. You must have lost your mind." And yet she could not pull away from him. She felt her heart in her ears, her throat close. His hand trailed over her breast and she felt the tip quiver under his fingers, and the icicle of sensation travel down her body.
"You want me. I want you."
"This is madness. We can't."
"Don't be afraid," he whispered.
How can I not be afraid? My life, my world hangs in the balance. He bent down and kissed her on the lips.