Book Two of the Night Flyer Trilogy
Size: 5.50 x 7.50 in
Size: 5.50 x 7.50 in
Some secrets are meant to stay hidden.
While Florentina as the Night Flyer searches for a mysterious underworld organization that has attempted to murder the woman she loves, Maddie struggles to deal with the danger Florentina is courting. Her brother, Alessandro, has become the most prominent merchant of Milan, but the Night Flyer uncovers a secret so shocking it could destroy them all.
Secrets of Milan is the second book in Edale Lane’s Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like drama and suspense, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and a romance that deepens into true love, then you’ll want to continue the Night Flyer saga. Order your copy today!
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Lesbian, Straight
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 3 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Age Difference, Bodyguard/Guardian Angel, Class Differences, Forbidden Love, Friends to Lovers, Hero and the Great Quest, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Passing as Straight, True Love
Word Count: 94,244
Setting: Milan, 1502-1503
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Turning her attention back to the pulpit, Maddie determined to listen to the homily. When they returned home, she would invite Fiore to her room to try to explain the emotions she had been struggling with and to reassure her and ask forgiveness. It was time to put everything right and stop letting fear rule over her life.
Madelena had just cleared away the mental replays to concentrate on the service when a most unusual occurrence diverted her complete attention. Florentina had scooped up Betta and Matteo and was pushing her out of her seat toward the aisle. “Run,” she commanded fiercely as she jerked her chin at the door.
For an instant Maddie was too stunned and confused to move, but for only the blink of an eye. Florentina–the Night Flyer–had the most excellent instincts and if she was bolting out of Epiphany Mass, imminent danger surrounded them. “Get out now!” Florentina shouted as she continued to push Maddie down the center walkway.READ MORE
There were likely murmurs and stirring among the congregation members at the outburst, but Madelena, heart racing, dashed ahead with a glance over her shoulder to see her tutor with one child under each arm a mere step behind her. The sudden noise was deafening, but it was the shock wave from the blast that sent them all flying. Maddie hit the floor hard amid screams and the sounds of breaking glass and crashing bricks. Smoke began to fill the chapel, and someone stepped on her hand in their haste to evacuate.
“Remain calm!” a tenuous voice intoned as panic broke out in earnest.
“Mama!” Maddie pushed up to her scraped hands and bruised knees and turned toward Betta. The wide-eyed, frantic child clutched her arms around her mother’s neck.
“I’m here, baby; I’ve got you,” she comforted and reached a hand to Matteo. “Are you both alright?”
“Florentina saved us,” Matteo said in astonishment. “We aren’t hurt; don’t be afraid, Mama.”
“Keep moving,” Florentina insisted as she stumbled up to the trio. “Out the door, now.”
Madelena did not argue, but with somber eyes fixed on Fiore’s gave her a nod. Carrying Betta in her arms, she forged on through wreckage and stampeding parishioners toward the open doorway. Florentina followed, holding tight to Matteo’s hand. Once past the archway, they collapsed on the steps.
“Are you injured?” Florentina’s voice was drowned in concern. They were all covered in pink brick dust with small scraps of debris having showered over their hair and clothing.
“No, just some bruises from falling. What about you?” Maddie turned her gaze to Fiore who sat an arm’s length away leaning against the exterior wall of the church.
“I’ll live,” she replied queasily. “My back feels as if it’s on fire and my head is pounding like a chorus of drums.”
“My children,” Maddie uttered in disbelief. “You saved them, and me.”
With smudged face and disheveled hair, Florentina raised radiant eyes to hers. “Si. You may not love me anymore, but I am still devoted to you and to them. I would lay down my life to save any of you without hesitation.”
Panic of a different sort grabbed hold of Madelena’s soul, threatening to undo her. “Is that what you think?” Grief clouded her verdant gaze, and her mouth fell into a gape of horror.
“What am I supposed to think?”
“I am so sorry!” Tears swam in Maddie’s eyes. “That is not the problem; it never was.” Quite the opposite, she thought.
“We love you, Florentina!” Betta declared and left her mother’s lap to hug her tutor. “How did you know the church was going to fall down?”
“It didn’t just fall down,” Matteo stated as he took his turn to embrace his mother.
“No, it didn’t,” Florentina confirmed exchanging a look with Madelena and then it clicked.
Even greater shock swept over Maddie’s features, turning them pale as death. “A bomb? Someone bombed the church?”
“Someone did indeed, and I need to go back and help. People are injured and some may even be dead.” Florentina started to push to her feet but collapsed on the step again with her head in her hands. “Seems I’m a bit dizzy still.”
“You don’t have to do everything,” Maddie said and reached a hand to tenderly stroke her head. “Look, some city watchmen have arrived and the fire brigade will be here any minute. You alerted everyone and saved lives, including ours. How did you know?”
“Paying attention,” she answered with difficulty. “Knew something wasn’t right, then glass breaking, saw the bomb… was on our row… two of them.”
“Fiore, don’t try to talk now,” she instructed. “I’ll secure a carriage to drive us home and then I’m going to inspect you for injuries.”
“It’s only a few blocks,” Florentina dismissed. “I can walk.”
“That may be, but we aren’t sitting here waiting for tomorrow, and that’s about when you’d be able to walk home,” Maddie declared.
“I’m scared,” Betta said in a small voice as she snuggled back against her mother again. “Church is supposed to be a safe place.”
Matteo took her hand in his as he settled on the spot between Florentina and Madelena. “Don’t be scared, Betta,” he said with assurance. “I’m right here.” Then with his other hand he patted Florentina’s shoulder. “Thank you. I’m glad you are the smartest person in Milan and that you’re with us.”
“I’m glad I’m with you, too, Matteo,” she replied and offered him a weak smile.
Maddie could tell by her pained expression and weakness that Florentina had absorbed some measure of shock from the blast. She was also certain that without Fiore’s lighting reflexes they would all be seriously wounded or dead. Feet rushed past the spot where they sat; men called out, women screamed, children cried. She looked around, between those coming and going, to see a gigantic hole in the side of the brick facade, broken windows with smoke trailing out, and a body lying on the ground. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard.
“Make way for the fire brigade!” a man shouted.
Madelena pushed to her feet and reached a hand for Fiore. “Come now,” she instructed. “We have to move out of the way. Let’s get you in that carriage and home.”
Secrets of Milan starts with Fiore and Maddie in a relationship crisis, with Maddie holding herself separate. This confused me for a short while because I’d thought their crisis over, but when Maddie quickly reveals the cause, it’s something new. Her concerns about Fiore putting herself in harm’s way when Maddie already grieved for her spouse are compelling and not the kind of fears easy to resolve.
We might learn why Maddie has withdrawn early, but this forms the bridging conflict, giving the pieces of the next mystery time to gather. Yes, we knew of the secret society by the end of the first book, but Maddie might not be the only target, nor does Fiore’s investigation go unnoticed.
The pursuit of the secret society consumes the entire book, offering a central plot which affects many aspects, including their relationship. I found it infected my own perspective, making me expect clues everywhere, much like Fiore does. I consider that a sign of how the text absorbed me.
However, this difficult search is not the only plot thread running. There’s a lot to keep the reader interested beyond tracking down the society by translating the ravings of a madman. Fiore’s position as tutor, Maddie’s work on the charity house, and even a bit of blackmail, exist within a rich tapestry. The series’ world has both social and economic aspects built on the firm grounding of known history.
This book goes further into the merchant guilds and the rules governing the different classes and genders. While accepted within their household, society frowns on the love between Maddie and Fiore both for their same gender and their difference in economic standing, adding another layer. Nor is this the only story occurring hidden from public view. Where Fiore had a singular focus in the first book, the Night Flyer cannot keep a simplistic view of her world forever.
One thread that could easily have become a distraction focuses on Benetto, the villain of the first book, and I worried he would return to that status. Instead, his path is much more complicated. Fiore gave him a second chance, but it’s not in his nature to see ruin as hope. I appreciated the depth in this thread and how Benetto had to struggle. The continuing shadow of the Night Flyer and his daughter’s unwavering love for Alessandro’s son, Antonio, kept this piece connected to the whole.
Antonio’s life as a soldier is laid out for the reader in all its contradictions. We rejoin him as part of the eager standard bearers struggling to train their first command. War is a lot of waiting and lack of conflict. This does not last long, though, and their introduction to the realities of war is daunting. The thread kept him in mind despite the distance and allowed us to see both sides of the second love story between him and Benetto’s daughter.
As with the first book, I enjoyed the interactions with the kids and experiencing Fiore’s teaching style. We are as much her pupils as the children whether for points of science or history. The book is still a little heavier on the description than I prefer, but whenever it dipped into these areas, I was enthralled. A good example of this is the technical description of how a harpsichord functions as a mechanized combination of string and percussion. Nor did I skim over the visits to places I have never seen with my own eyes, taking in the detail as though I were there with them.
There’s much more I would like to mention but can’t for fear of spoiling something. For a middle book, this is all but a standalone novel. The main crisis reaches a satisfying, and surprising, conclusion while still leaving more for the series to explore. The love story between Fiore and Maddie continues to develop with intimate but not detailed scenes. This book is an honest sequel to the first, extending what happened there in interesting and unexpected ways. I’d guessed some pieces but not the whole, making me a part of the journey rather than an observer.