Mission to Malaspiga Author:Evelyn Anthony Moving from New York and Beverly Hills to Rome and the burnished gold loveliness of Florence and the Tuscan hill towns, here is a riveting novel of a beautiful young woman who sets out to pay a debt of love to a dead brother, only to come face to face with her own heritage -- a heritage of passion and death. — On the Viale Galileo, winding betwee... more »n sentinel pines up into the hills on the far side of the Arno behind the wrought-iron gates bearing the somehow menacing crest of coronet and corn shaft piercing a laurel wreath, stands the Villa Malaspiga, urban seat of an ancient ducal family that has dominated Florentine and Tuscan life for seven hundred years.
For Katharine di Malaspiga Dexter, her pilgrimage to Florence to meet her Malaspiga cousins is no sentimental journey into family nostalgia, no attempts, as she implies it is in order to gain introduction, to collect mementos of the rebellious grandmother who had defied her imperious family by marrying a commoner and emigrating to America. Instead, Katharine is "Cousin Rose," an agent sent by American authorities to penetrate the Malaspiga family business -- a business masquerading as a profitable antiques export firm but that may reap millions annually from dealing the living death that destroyed her younger brother.
At the villa, Katharine is quickly caught up in the crosscurrents of ambition and desire that consume her relations: the Duchess Isabella, faded beauty with her perennial pink rose, whose survival secret is a lifetime of lovers has been to let no one close to her; the young Duchess Francesca, torn by hatred of her husband and a frantic jealousy of anyone who draws his interest; and the outsider, the Canadian sculptor who enjoys Malaspiga patronage but who is himself gnawed by artistic frustration and by yearning for Francesca.
Katharine's nemesis, however, is to be her cousin Alessandro, Duke of Malaspiga, a prototypical Renaissance prince translated directly into the present -- arrogant, sensual, ambitious and fearfully handsome -- a man with an animal magnetism for women. Katharine had expected danger in Florence. She had even been ready to face death to avenge her brother's early cutting down. She had NOT counted on falling in love with her blood relation, blood enemy.« less