Rome, 1635. As Flanders braces for another long year of war, a Spanish count presents the Vatican with a means of disrupting the Dutch rebels’ booming economy. His plan is both dubious and brilliant – they just need the right man to see it through.
Enter Ludovico da Portovenere, a charismatic spice and silk merchant. Intrigued by the Vatican’s proposal, and always interested in profit, Ludo sails for Amsterdam. But his voyage is interrupted by a pirate raid that leaves him with a girl, Alina, who won’t go home. Ludo finds her an encumbrance so he sells her to a minor English nobleman in Plymouth and sails on, never dreaming that one day she will be a means of saving his life.
While the Italian merchant sets about his mischief-making in Holland, Alina tries to establish herself in her new English home, unwittingly making vicious enemies and putting her life in jeopardy. She dreams of Ludo: surely one day he’ll rescue her from the house that has become her prison. Eventually he does arrive, but it is not how she imagined; and now there are two other men willing to love and protect her. Which one will she choose?
The first in a trilogy about the Genoese rogue Ludo da Portovenere, The Chosen Man combines international politics and domestic intrigue, and relates a fictional version of what may have happened to accelerate the Dutch financial scandal known as ‘tulip mania’; showing how decisions made in high places can have terrible repercussions on innocent lives.