Religion in this novel is seen as a force of evil and a way for selfish individuals to manipulate and harm others. Ellena and Vivaldi, the protagonists of the story, have to overcome the nefarious influence of the church as an obstacle to their love. They are kidnapped by members of the Inquisition and Ellena is almost killed by Schedoni, a maleficent monk who later turns out to be Count Fernando di Bruno in disguise. Members of the clergy are largely villains in this story: Ellena is held captive by a group of nuns, and the abbess attempts to make her choose between taking the veil (becoming a nun) or marrying someone other than the one she loves.
Ann Ward portrays the church as an organization run by corrupt individuals who are driven by greed and revenge. It is difficult to present the Inquisition in a favorable light, and this book in particular shows how religion was used as a vehicle for personal gain and control.