Erik is dying. Not once in his life has anyone ever loved him, not even his mother. Every day, his heart fails him more, and he is desperate not to die alone. He hides his face and past sins behind a mask. Erik is dying and has fallen desperately, obsessively in love.
Christine Daaé, a rising star in the Paris opera, is kidnapped by Erik, her voice tutor. When her childhood sweetheart attempts to rescue her, he gets trapped in Erik’s torture chamber. Erik gives her a choice: marry him or watch her lover die an agonizing death. Defeated, she agrees to the marriage in name only.
The Persian has intimate knowledge of Erik’s bloody past. He followed him across continents to keep a check on Erik’s sanity.
Erik asks for his help to marry Christine. Erik doesn’t ask for much: “A living wife, a companion for a short while before I die – a few months at most. We both know I am at the end. How long can my heart hold out? Pain grips my heart, threatening to shred it to bits. Even I,” he said after a slow, reflective pause, “even I deserve a little joy before my wretched life comes to a close. The desolation alone is killing me.”
The Persian’s soft heart drives him to agree to support Erik’s last chance for love. Alone with Christine for a few moments, he feels he must warn her: “If he ever comes to believe that you have betrayed him, he will hurt you, Christine. If you ever need my help, wear red, as much red as you can find.”
Erik finally has the companion he has always dreamed of. He cannot hope for more, but he does. His heart, though failing, dreams of romance and love. With her soft caresses and innocent brushes against his body, he thinks she desires the marriage bed as well as the marriage. Is he reading more than he should into her actions? Though he yearns for her love and lusts after her body, Erik knows they’re forbidden fruit for someone like him.
Christine is determined to honor her marriage vows, though she’ll love Raoul forever and has promised herself to remain faithful to him. But the more time she spends with her husband, the more she’s drawn to him, falling under the spell of his music and the tender, wounded soul he desperately tries to hide behind his mask. An orphan for years, she longs to have a home of her own. Could she come to consider the house by the lake her home? Although she gave Raoul her heart and soul, can she put aside her past with Raoul and give her tormented husband the compassion he needs?
Vicomte Raoul de Chagny has loved Christine for years and refuses to let his title stand in the way of their happiness. He is even willing to defy his older brother to be with her. Despite his love, Raoul fails to save her from Erik. When Raoul meets Christine again, he tries to free her from the bonds of marriage. Raoul, dashing and impetuous, will not give up his quest to save his fiancé. He is determined to fight the phantom himself in order to be with Christine.
Erik finds that his mask cannot protect his heart from the anguish of unrequited love and explodes in a jealous rage, his obsession spiraling out of control. His passion for Christine has brought him to the brink of insanity and threatens to destroy them both.
Christine is bound to both men for different reasons, setting off a personal crisis, but she must choose: fight for her husband’s sanity, her marriage, and the life they have made together in the dark or go with the handsome Raoul to live in the light.
This love story is a gothic thriller that explores the resilience of true love as well as the dignity of the human spirit and challenges our perception of sanity and beauty.
About the Author
Caridad Martin grew up in New York City after leaving her native Cuba. She started writing at age seven and has continued creating people on paper that talk to each other; she refuses to admit that sometimes on a silent, moonless night, she can hear them.
Despite getting a B.A. in creative writing from CUNY, she went on to become an educator. She has taught bilingual and special needs students. Currently, she works as an educational coach, helping teachers improve their pedagogy. As part of her job, she has published several articles on the use of technology in education. Online, she has written novels and short stories since 2005 under the pseudonym Phantasmarose. This is where the idea for Masque was first born.
She is a voracious reader, particularly of romance and romantic gothic novels. An occasional re-read of the Phantom of the Opera, keeps the story fresh in her mind. At home, Caridad can be found in one of two places, reading on her favorite chair or pottering around the garden. She has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Latin America, Taiwan, and the Philippines and even lived in England for several years. She loves camping, and in the US, she has traveled coast to coast, backpacking on her own and in an RV with her family. She is an avid collector of lanterns and put her collection to good use when Superstorm Sandy hit.
Caridad lives in New Jersey, where she can watch the ebb and flow of New York Bay. Her family puts up with her eccentricities and her need to hide away for hours writing with Bradley, her oversized black and white Coonhound lying nearby snoozing,