BEYOND THE PAGES
Lazar & Allegra (The Pirate Prince)
Nowadays the vibrant and still-sexy grandparents of over a dozen grandchildren, Lazar and Allegra still reign as King and Queen of the Mediterranean island kingdom of Ascension. They have seen their country through tumultuous times in Europe, standing firm during both the rise and the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, who nearly managed to get control of Ascension at several critical points in the island nation’s history. Thankfully, Ascension’s Navy
with its rough-and-tumble pirate roots was able to fend off "The Monster" until his ultimate demise.
There was one drawback, however, to Lazar’s return to power. Several large merchant companies whose ships he had raided during his pirate years caught wind of who the Devil of Antigua really was, and sued for damages with interest.
The wineries of Ascension have really taken off, and are gaining a fine reputation for their various vintages, especially the local chianti. Goat cheese and olive oil are other products for which Ascension has become known over the years, along with dried tuna and calamari from the excellent fishing waters around the island.
The Prince Regent of England recently paid this tiny jewel of the Mediterranean a visit aboard his royal yacht. He stayed several days to enjoy the local opera and to take the medicinal waters from the hot springs, and it was noted widely that he could not stop ogling Princess Serafina.
Many have wondered what path the king's younger son, Prince Leo, would take in life. The last we saw him, he was just a child. For a time, it seemed he would go into some branch or other of Ascension’s military, for he has proven quite fearless in standing up for what he believes in. Currently, however, he is on a youthful religious kick, though truthfully, we don’t expect it to last. He is now twenty years old, athletic, brave, and extremely handsome, favoring his father, Lazar’s black hair and dark, soulful eyes. Apparently, he also has inherited his father’s spiritual questioning.
Recalling the debauchery of his older brother Prince Rafe’s rakehell days, not to mention their father’s youthful criminality on the high seas, Prince Leo fears someone had better repent for his family’s “colorful” past. (You may recall, his grandfather, the murdered King Alphonse, is up for sainthood, working his way through the beatification process at the Vatican. The late king endowed a lot of churches before being assassinated.) Following in his godly grandfather’s footsteps, Leo is considering entering the Church, to his mother’s joy and his father’s alarm.
He has spent the past few months in monk-like austerity under a vow of silence in the lonely monastery on Ascension’s highest mountain.
Unfortunately for his higher aspirations, he has taken particular notice of a lovely girl he noticed in the nearest village. Considering his holy vow of silence, he cannot speak to her, and besides, what would he say? As the king’s youngest son, the slightest attention he pays to any lady is immediately reported in the local
Darius & Serafina (Princess)
Darius and Serafina, Spanish assassin and Italian royal princess, are still the ultimate in hot-headed passion despite having a houseful of children, each more beautiful and mischievous than the next. When they fight, people can hear the operatic shouting up and down the rugged mountain valleys—but these true lovers always make up. (Usually resulting in another
baby.) Darius still plays the guitar when he is feeling moody and still plays the unofficial spymaster for his father-in-law, the King.
Serafina, you may be shocked to hear, battles her weight constantly. But it’s worth the struggle – the Italian food of Ascension is that good. In fact, the royal daughter is such a foodie that she’s become the patroness and sponsor of the island’s first official cooking school, with chefs in attendance from all
over Italy and the rest of Europe.
Prince Rafe & Daniela (Prince Charming)
Rafe is still a wildly romantic husband to Daniela even after more than a decade of marriage. He starts planning presents and activities around her birthday or their anniversary many weeks in advance. She tolerates the fuss with a certain degree of amusement. They say there is no better husband, after all, than a reformed rake. They have six children: three boys and three girls, some red-haired like her, some blond like him.
As a mother, Daniela retains the same independent spirit that fueled her through her girlhood days as the Robin Hood figure of Ascension, the highwayman (highway-person?) known as the Masked Rider. Parenthood hasn’t slowed her down.
She expects her school-aged children to act sensibly and listen to their governesses, for she is a very busy person, indeed, a force to be reckoned with on the island. She has studied enough of the law of various countries in the ensuing years to fight for certain reforms in the medieval-aged justice system left over from the reign of King Alphonse, Lazar’s father.
While the repeal of capital punishment is unlikely, her efforts helped create new laws ensuring certain protections for the accused. This has not made her terribly popular in all quarters, but getting arrested herself once made her sensitive to the need to treat defendants with proper justice.
Of course, her arrest for brigandry was the best thing that ever happened to her, in hindsight, considering it was how she ended up married to Rafe, after robbing him in his carriage.
Also, given that she has daughters and nieces she loves dearly, she is keen to continue advancing Allegra’s longstanding ideals of equal treatment for women in society. Since not every female may have the luxury of being rescued by a prince whilst in danger, Princess Daniela has opened a fencing school that admits girls as students.
Rafe always intervenes to protect her when local opposition grows against his darling wife. He thinks everything she does is brilliant. After all, she married him, didn’t she?
For his part, Rafe is secretly working on a book of children’s stories that he first started telling his own brood each night at bedtime, starring an adventurous toad who may or may not actually be a prince. He insists it is not autobiographical in any way...