Eva (Arethusa) Maré
Eva Maré’s life is a study in contradictions. She is a first-generation Azorean-American growing up in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the 1890s. Yet her family origins are deeply rooted in Terceira Island in the Azores Archipelago, Portugal. She has grown up in a divided household: her mother is a pagan worshipper of the Moon Goddess Artemis and her father is a devout Catholic. Eva must choose, once and for all, which faith she will follow, but each choice carries severe consequences.
What readers are saying
“Eva (an apt name, suggesting beginnings, innocence and simultaneous temptation) must choose between the identities she has been given—first she becomes Arethusa, destined to meet her Alpheus as her mother confidently taught her. Then she becomes Isolde of Cornish legend, destined to lose her true love, Tristan, through the spite of others. The ending of the book is a rather profound realisation on the nature of these identities.” —Alexandra Riley
“Have I done something to hurt you?” In his face, she saw true empathy. He knew nothing of what she felt. He was beyond reproach, knowing neither the deceptions of Isabel and Diogo nor her own love for him.
She shook her head, and then fell into him. Pressing her face into his shoulder, she felt his arms come around her. She had never felt safer, never in the arms of Pai, her true mother, or even her beloved sea. Was she not made for this place, this soft space inside the circle of Tristan’s arms?
Tristão (Tristan) Vazante
Tristão Vazante grew up in an orphanage in Angra do Heroísmo, abandoned by his father and grieving for the loss of the mother he never knew. He never takes life for granted, and always looks for the good in people.
Hope is the flame that lights his way. The morning after a terrible storm, he finds a girl half-dead on the shore. Tristão becomes her protector but when he discovers Eva’s a pagan, he questions his love for her.
What readers are saying
“Something happened to you tonight. You are shaking.” He brushed a strand of damp hair from her forehead, and she almost shied away. The gesture seemed too intimate somehow. Perhaps it was because it meant too much to her and nothing to him. “I know you don’t want to talk about it, but maybe tomorrow you’ll change your mind. Get some sleep. Don’t let the condeza or Pai see your bandages. They’ll hound you until they know everything.”
As he walked away, Arethusa caught his arm. “Thank you,” she mouthed to him, and reaching up with two fingers, she touched his temple and then her own. To her it meant I love you, but to Tristan . . . she never knew what it meant to him.
Tristan gave her a sad smile, and then he was gone.
Diogo Cheia’s father is a marquez and soon he will be too. He always gets what he wants. Always. On the sailing to Terceira Island, he finds a new plaything to pass the time: Eva. He also discovers her secret, and knows just how to play the game to his advantage.
“Please let me go, Diogo.” She didn’t know what to do. He was too strong, and he blocked the only exit.
“Too late,” he said in mock apology, pulling at the buttons on her high neckline.
She turned away, revolted. “Diogo, I won’t do this with you. Not now . . . not ever.” For an instant, she glimpsed the weight of her rejection through his down-turned head and the clench of his jaw.
He raised his head at last, and a wounded rage fired his eyes. “I will say it again: too late . . .”
Conde Fernando Estrela
Conde Fernando Estrela is a man of many secrets. Without a word of explanation, he adopts Arethusa (Eva) and Tristan, bringing them into a home shrouded by past wrongs and wordless strife. Conde Estrela is haunted by loss, yet he still harbors hope that he, too, might find redemption before the end. Complex he may be, but he comes to love Tristan and Arethusa as his own children.
As Arethusa listened with an ear pressed to Pai’s study door, she heard a great strain in her adoptive father’s voice. “I cannot—I cannot prevent her.”
“You must, Fernando. Inês’s words are poison.”
“You have never understood. You cannot know what I’ve done to Inês, what pain she suffers for my sins. I cannot change my fate and I would not if I could, and it is Inês who suffers for it. I refuse to turn my back on her, and yet I do every day that I live.”
“And have you not also turned your back on your children?”
“Arethusa and Tristan know I love them. It is Inês who is left to doubt.”
“It is not love if you do not protect your children from those who seek to hurt them. Inês speaks to them from a place of bitterness, and by allowing her to speak this way, you hurt her the very most.”
“I cannot, Leandro. Speak to her yourself if you must, but do not ask me again.”
“You will answer to God for this someday, brother.”
“I am willing to pay the price. I only hope when that day comes, Arethusa and Tristan will understand.”
Maria Maré has held true to the beliefs of her mother, giving her heart and devotion to the goddess of the moon, Artemis. She has fulfilled her destiny, and she will now pass that destiny on to her daughter, Eva. She is not afraid, having known what was coming since first she learned of her daughter’s conception. Generations of the Maré women have come to this fate, fraught with danger it may be. But the goddess cannot be questioned, and the honor is hers to follow Artemis, even unto death.
“Arethusa, look at me.”
Mãe pulled the moonstone from its hook. Its flashing blue depths reminded her of the eyes she had seen in the sea. Her mother held it out, sympathy snatching at the corners of her mouth.
“The moonstone will protect you. Keep it close and it will someday show you who you truly are. This is the key, Arethusa.” Mãe touched the face of the pendant. “This stone holds the answer to all your riddles.”
A strange light caught Arethusa’s eye. She glanced out the porthole. The Goddess had fired the horizon’s edge a silver-gold. Goose bumps crept the length of her arms. Artemis was rising at last—she would soon break the waves. Here was the Goddess. Here was all she desired. Here was freedom and devotion in one.
“It’s yours now,” Mãe said, tears filling her eyes. Then she draped the chain around her neck.