The Legacy is set in Wittenberg, Germany. The year is 1525 and the Protestant Reformation has started. With it comes power struggles and revolts. The church influences daily life and beliefs. Women have little power or wealth.
Baronesse Sabina von Ziegler has left the convent that she called home for the past 9 years. She's read the beliefs of Dr Martin Luther and agrees with enough of them to know that she can no longer serve the Catholic Church. Knowing that she has a legacy from her mother, she returns to her adopted father's home to request it. Sabina was originally sent to the convent under a bad circumstances.
Wolfgang Philip Matthew Behaim better known as Wolf is a master printer. He has presses in Nurnburg but has come to Wittenberg to take over his father's press. His father has recently died in debt and Wolf is trying to get the press operating in the black. Wolf as been married before and has a small daughter.
Baron von Ziegler is Sabina's adopted father. He hates Sabina and would love to have her gone. He blames her for the death of his only son. Currently, he is on his 4th wife trying to have a son. His first wife died naturally. Sabina's mother and the next one died under mysterious circumstances but nothing can be proved. He also is very greedy and has big ideals. As he is the treasurer of Wittenberg, he borrowed some money to finance a ship. The ship hasn't returned and is presumed lost and now the city is doing an audit of the books!
The Baron is looking for ways to get the money back to the city treasury before anyone notices that it is gone. Wolf has secrets that he doesn't want known and he needs to pay off his father's debts. Unfortunately, the Baron holds most of Wolf's father's debt and Sabina's inheritance will cover them.
The Baron's plan is for Wolf to marry Sabina and then give her inheritance to him. Wolf isn't wanting to get married. He still loves his wife who died in childbirth. He also doesn't want a wife who has given vows to the church! Sabina doesn't want to get married. She is suppose to get her inheritance once she turns 25, which is in a few weeks. She just wants to start her haven for women and children. Marriage as far as she can see is not for her. The Baron threatens Wolf with calling in his father's debt and telling his secrets. He locks Sabina in a cell, starving and beating her until she is almost dead before she agrees. This is not the best way to start a marriage, even one which both are hoping to dissolve.
I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. It isn't in a time or place that I usually read about. Being open minded though, I started the book and within a few pages I was hooked.
The characters are well developed. You feel for Sabina as she sees her dreams being taken from her and her acceptance of her marriage. Poor Wolf doesn't want Sabina and would love to send her back to a convent but can't. His frustration of having a wife he doesn't know what to do with comes through. When Sabina storms out of the house after a fight with Wolf, you know that unless he goes after her, she won't be back. The question he has to answer though is does he want her back?
The historical background is excellent. When you talk about the Protestant Reformation, the only person most people think about is Dr Martin Luther. The fact that there were others that were working on changing the church isn't even thought about. The idea that there was actual fighting over religious beliefs in Germany isn't even mentioned. Ms Bennett's understanding of the shifting religious beliefs and their ramifications was expressed so well that it was a major part of the story but didn't take away from Sabina and Wolf's story.
I felt I was part of the story and couldn't wait to see what happened next. I wanted to know what Wolf's secret was. I wanted to know how Sabina was going to live with Wolf not loving her. I wanted to know. lots. Wolf'
When secrets destroy, can love live on?
When her brief, disastrous marriage to a fortune hunter ends in scandal, Baronesse Sabina von Ziegler's vengeful adoptive father imprisons her in a cloister. Nine years later, however, following the teachings of the reformer Martin Luther, she arranges a daring escape. She is free at last-for the moment-a noblewoman of conscience, and has learned a lesson about trusting men she will never forget.
Wolfgang Behaim, a widowed commoner, is a tradition-bound printer from the rising middle class with a secret that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear. Burdened by the mysterious circumstances surrounding his father's death, he has no heart for love. Yet he finds himself suddenly betrothed to Sabina, the Baron von Ziegler's adopted daughter.
It is a marriage neither wants. Sabina again finds herself imprisoned by the Baron, in a dungeon this time, being slowly starved to death. Her only key to freedom is marriage to Wolf. And Wolf must marry Sabina, or the murderous Baron will reveal the secret from his past.
Though neither comprehends the dark purpose behind the Baron's machinations, they are forced into a union they never plan to consummate. But as they fight to discover the truth of the mysteries surrounding them, they find themselves challenged by a fiery passion they cannot resist. Can they overcome their past and find love even as lies, war, and an unexpected enemy conspire against them?