The Curse of Maiden Scars | New Release | Historical Fiction set in 18thC Venice by Nicolette Croft

The Curse of Maiden Scars
Nicolette Croft
Coming in August 2024: Audiobook narrated by Liz May Brice
Sixteen-year-old Renna Covert toils away in the shadows of a Yorkshire workhouse, her days filled with the mundane task of shelling cotton and the dangerous duty of scouting for punters. One fateful night, she crosses paths with two sailors and finds herself thrust into the heart of a chilling encounter at the local asylum.
These harrowing experiences catalyze Renna’s journey, promising newfound opportunities and revealing long-buried family secrets. Yet, at every turn, powerful forces conspire to thwart her quest for truth, forcing her to abandon her scullery work and embark on a daring escape to Venice alongside her steadfast companions.
In the labyrinthine alleys of Venice, Renna’s fate takes yet another twist. She is ensnared by a cunning Madam who trains her as a Venetian courtesan. But beneath the veneer of luxury lies a world fraught with danger, where Renna must rely on her withs and resilience to navigate the treacherous waters of deceit and betrayal.
Set against the backdrop of Venice’s tumultuous Napoleonic invasion of 1797, this is a tale of a girl’s struggle for survival. It is a story of resilience, defiance in the face of adversity, and, ultimately, one young woman’s determination to reclaim her identity.
Universal Buy Link:
Enjoy an Excerpt:
I dragged Asha and Max after me, creating a human snake through the crowd. Glancing over my shoulder, I was warmed by Asha’s beams of excitement. Although anxiousness prevented me from indulging in their fun, I appreciated the laugh of my playfellows. Catching the surprise seemed precisely the kind of thing a girl like me should do—if I were still a girl.
We reached a barred section of the square. Thick rope suspended from timber stands encircled a sizeable wooden box ten feet wide, high, and long. It was brightly painted with an array of Carnival images—masks, flowers, boats, ladies’ decorated faces, men’s wigged heads, all with pleading grins. Lanterns positioned at the corners cast dramatic shadows. Light reflected off the gilding. Ann seized me tight on one side while Asha held my other hand. Max pressed behind us.
The crowd responded to a hidden clue and quieted. A dozen men dressed in blue pantaloons and tunics, hoods, and black masks, rushed toward the box—three at each side, crouched at the bottom, heads bent low—and waited. A line of violinists, instruments balanced between chin and shoulder, sauntered around the display. Each took a stance beside the box, turned to the crowd, and waited. Without announcement, the men in blue went to work on latches at the bottom, finding a secret flap and lifting it high so one could disappear inside. In that instant, the musicians struck a harmonious note. Their song penetrated the air and echoed against the surrounding marble facades. Volume and momentum increased, drawing on the still hushed anticipation of the crowd. The sides of the box crashed onto the piazza floor. A length of red cloth undulated in an unfelt breeze, inflating into the sky, taking on an inner glow.
The billowing fabric solidified into a firm balloon tied to a basket, fit for two persons. The crowd took a collective breath and murmured. We watched the balloon rise, ready to lift off the ground. A centerfire lamp with a slightly odd smell made it ascend magically.
Ann turned to me, “I’ve seen this before. The air beneath is heated and will lift into the sky.” Her face was as bright as Asha’s had been earlier. “In France, people who ride in balloons like this are called aeronauts. I’ll be my own kind of aeronaut.” She elbowed me. “I am rising up in the world. I am hoping you will accompany me.”
Nicolette Croft can’t remember a time when she was not creating imaginary worlds inspired by her Hungarian and American ancestors. As a neuro-divergent learner, however, putting those stories to paper proved more challenging than imagining them. Because her determination would not allow her to settle, she pursued an English B.A. to improve her writing.
Young motherhood also brought unexpected challenges, which motivated her to pursue graduate work in twice-exceptional learners and education. She would later add an M.A. degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, specializing in neurodivergent people, trauma, and grief. Nicolette uses her natural gift of storytelling as an exploratory method for her clients.
The Curse of Maiden Scars is also an outgrowth of her personal journey and marks her first publication as a novelist, having previously published short fiction. When not at her counseling practice or researching historical facts for her latest story, Nicolette shares treasured time with family, friends, and her husband. Whether writing, cooking, traveling, or learning, the act of creation is always at the center of her colorful life.
Author Links:
Amazon Author Page: