The Hidden Will of the Dragon is book two of the Countess of Bathory (yes, she really existed) series by Charlie Courtland. If you haven't read the first one, Dandelions in the Garden, you are SO missing out...
Nevertheless, book one left off with Amara (the countess's longtime companion and friend) married to a dark knight, Draco, and Elizabeth, the countess of Bathory, discovering that her ancestor, Vlad the Impaler left some secret property to his descendents. Thus, this book picks up where the first one left off and a "modern" day Amara, declining in health, writing the tale for John (the grandson of her lover, George.) The tale concists of Amara dressing as a boy to scope out the Impaler's property, Elizabeth's passionate but sad love affair with a painter, Amara's inner battles with her love of two men, the parties and the passions of Venice, and of course, Elizabeth manages to anger the wrong people and get herself exiled.
Sounds frivolous? I assure you it is not... Approximately 50 percent into the book, it got pretty exciting. Call me morbid, but when these two ladies begin misbehaving, I LOVE it. When some Turks dare to attempt to defile Amara in the woods one day... the following dinner party and stew... OH MY WORD. There is a pattern here tho.. When these women are angered by men, when men tell them no, when men take away their choices and when the women cannot make their own decisions, when men force them into exile, these women get mad and they take their anger out in the only way they can. They (Yes, Amara too, seems to be having bouts of madness) do things in their basement to people noone will miss..
And then, Elizabeth begins to be obsessed with finding the perfect anti aging potion and opens her school for noble girls... (gee I wonder why...)
No, there is no bathing in blood, but there is plenty of action. Thumbs up to Charlie Courtland for her ability to transport me. I literally felt as tho I was in Venice or Catchice and the author didn't need to use 50 thousand adjectives nor describe every detail from the window hangings to the lace on the ladies dresses to do it. Fabulous writing about fascinating characters.. You love and hate them both.
I bought this in an ebook format from Smashwords.com.