Title: Chains of Silver

Author: Claudia H. Long

Series: Tendrils of the Inquisition Book 3

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance

Publisher: Five Directions Press

Release Date: Mar 15 2018

Editions/Formats: 1st Edition ~ Formats eBook & Print


Crypto-Jews, secret Jews of Spain and Mexico, are still very much in danger in 1721. Fourteen-year-old Marcela Leon's parents are dragged away to face the last auto-da-fé of the Inquisition in colonial Mexico. Although her parents survive, Marcela’s life is forever changed. Sent to the Castillo hacienda for her protection, Marcela has difficulty grasping that safety requires silence about her beliefs. Her forthright speech and budding sexuality lead her into situations beyond her comprehension, ending with her exile to the northern silver-mining town of Zacatecas, where she becomes housekeeper to a Catholic priest.

Marcela grows up to be one of the richest, most powerful women in Zacatecas, adjusting to her separation from her mother and the loss of her religion. But she can neither understand nor forgive her mother’s obstinacy and abandonment. Her husband's death unleashes a new cascade of disasters, and Marcela at last recognizes and appreciates the source of her mother's power, and her own.

I found the bell pull in the vanishing light. If I wanted to think up my opening line, I had to do so quickly. A girl of fourteen—on the streets alone after dark, with no home, no chaperone, and with all of her possessions at her feet—was a pigeon waiting to be plucked. And I had seen so few women about that I feared even more the fate of a girl among men long-starved for females.
Images of the biblical Dinah, raped and ruined for venturing out of her home, ran through my head.
I pulled the bell.
I waited. “Please, God, let him answer the door.” Again I rang, and still there was no answer. Could I brave walking back to the main road, to the monastery? At least there were people there, men who wouldn’t hurt me. But could I carry my bag? Would they even let me in?
I pulled once more. A shadow approached, weaving along the path toward me. I flattened myself against the pink stone wall, now gray in the advancing darkness. The shadow materialized into a man—tall, broad-shouldered, and so dark that he made the evening look bright around him. His clothes were blackened with dirt. He carried with him an empty bucket that banged soundlessly against his thigh. He did not look like the answer to my prayers. I held my breath so as to be unnoticeable.
His eyes caught mine, and he slowed.
I pulled the bell again, this time with desperate strength.
“Evening, Señorita,” he said, stopping alongside of me. I didn’t answer. “Looking for the good padre?” I exhaled, nodded. This was a better greeting than I had feared. “Well, you’ll be pullin’ that bell cord all night if you are. He ain’t home.” He stepped closer. I had nowhere to go.
“Where is he?” I croaked, hoping to seem confident and unafraid, but the sound was soaked in terror.
“Giving the last rites to the poor bastards that didn’t make it out of the mine tonight. Sons of bitches died with their buckets. Like usual.”
I looked up at him, his eyes gleaming wetly in the night. “Like usual?”
“Yes indeed. The mines are a great place for a man to die. Good thing, too, since that’s what we seem to do a hell of a lot of the time. Old Don José would do well to give up the management to his son-in-law, a sonofabitch if I ever met one, that Don Antonio, but at least he knows what he’s up to. Instead of letting that bottom-fucking…”
My eyes must have gotten big. “I’m sorry, Señorita. Forgive me. Now, seeing as Father Ernesto won’t be back for a bit, you see he’s got his lantern in the window to let us know that he’s out ministering to the sick or the dead, why don’t you come along to my hut, where I can keep you safe from the drunk bastards that did make it out tonight. We’re all so damned grateful to be alive we’d have half a mind to take a little lady like you out and show her a real good time.”
“Is your wife at home?” I was hoping.
He laughed. “No wife, Señorita. Not enough girls in this town for us to marry, at least not one at a time! But we do like to take them all together!” His laugh got coarse, and he reached out and took my arm, an unspeakable liberty back home. I tried to pull away. “Come along, sweetheart. I’m not going to mess with you. Though if you’re looking for Father Ernesto, maybe someone already has!” He chuckled and pulled me along.
“My trunk! My bag! I can’t just leave them here.”
He picked up my bag. “The trunk will have to fend for itself. Now come on, before I change my mind.”

Claudia Long is the author of Josefina's Sin, The Duel for Consuelo, The Harlot's Pen, and Chains of Silver. Three of these take place in Colonial Mexico during the Inquisition. She lives in Northern California where currently practices law as a mediator for employment and housing discrimination cases as well as complex business disputes. She is married and has two grown children and one magnificent grandchild.

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