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Song of the Siren
C. P. Lesley
Since childhood Lady Juliana has depended on her allure for survival. So when a sudden, debilitating illness robs her of her looks, her sense of her place in the world is shattered. The court that once idolized her spurns her. Who is she, if not the siren of men’s dreams?
Enter Felix Ossolinski—scholar, diplomat, Renaissance man. A riding accident in his teens forced him to redirect his energies from war to the life of the mind, and alone among the men of the sixteenth-century Polish court he sees in Juliana a kindred spirit, a woman who has never appreciated her own value and whose inner beauty outweighs any marring of her face.
At Felix’s suggestion the Polish queen offers Juliana a way out of her difficulties: spy for the royal family in return for a promise of financial independence. Facing poverty and degradation, Juliana cannot refuse, although the mission threatens not only her freedom but her life. Felix swears he will protect her. But no one can protect Juliana from the demons of her past.
SONGS OF STEPPE & FOREST 1
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“Song of the Siren is an exciting start to a new historical series. C. P. Lesley brings sixteenth-century Eastern Europe to life in a vivid and engaging way. Juliana is an inspiring heroine—a woman who overcomes tragedy and heartbreak to reach for that most elusive of prizes, freedom.”
—P. K. Adams, author of The Greenest Branch and The Column of Burning Spices
“C. P. Lesley’s Song of the Siren takes us to multicultural sixteenth-century Poland-Lithuania and Russia in this part adventure, part love story, part narrative of a woman’s self-discovery and empowerment. Juliana lives as a high-class courtesan who trusts no one. Her journey to Russia as a spy in the company of a disabled Polish nobleman who becomes her friend turns out to be a journey of self-discovery. Readers interested in the European Renaissance will enjoy this beautifully detailed historical novel.”
—Charlene Ball, author of Dark Lady: A Novel of Emilia Bassano Lanyer
“C. P. Lesley’s Song of the Siren whisks us away to Eastern Europe and Russia in this captivating tale of a heroine with a past. Juliana has lost her looks—or so she believes—but not her faith in her own mind, and as she confronts the enemies of her present and the demons of her childhood, she becomes a woman who cannot, and will not, be conquered. This is a wonderful beginning to a new series, and its exotic characters and setting are a welcome addition to historical fiction. Lesley’s fans are sure to be delighted, and new readers will quickly become devoted followers.”
—Sarah Kennedy, author of The Altarpiece and other novels
“Across half a millennium comes this tale of a complex and fascinating heroine with threads that will rouse and resonate with women even today. Juliana is a woman at turns privileged, abused, coveted, and marginalized for her beauty and existentially threatened when misfortune robs her of it. Faced with a journey across a frozen Polish-Russian landscape, she summons a steel courage born of desperation. The smart dialogue throughout the book weaves together a cast of characters—of whom we’re never quite sure who to trust—through betrayal, hope, fear, conflicting loyalties, determination, and love. Juliana ultimately emerges as a champion for all who think they are broken but instead find undiscovered, unimagined strength.”
—Ellen Notbohm, award-winning author of The River by Starlight