Synopsis: High society, murder, romance, and intrigue fill this seductive Venetian tale. In a city of secrets, what’s yours worth?
When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, has drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura’s father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice’s fiancé, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura’s prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister’s death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder—one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust.
I won Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould, from Random Buzzers. It was a book I coveted because of the cover, as well as the promising synopsis that I read. The first few words in the synopsis are, “High society, murder, romance, and intrigue…” I mean, how can you not want to read Cross My Heart? Gould caught my interest in the first few pages. She killed someone right away! It set the tone for the book, promising to showcase both the beautiful and ugly side of the Italian city.
Laura della Scala entered the convent at an early age, free of any responsibilities. Unfortunately, those responsibilities belong to her sister. Laura’s father never gave her the time of day, only reminding her that she was the burden on the family. But that all changes and Laura must leave the protection and shelter of the convent. Laura’s sister dies abruptly. Now, Laura must marry for the sake of the family name as well as to salvage her father’s reputation. But like the mysterious rivers of Venice, the tranquility of her sister’s passing is ruined by the ugliness of a mystery – one only Laura must solve.
I had a love and hate relationship with Laura. Maybe hate is a strong word for this instance, but there were definitely times where I did not care for her at all. Understandably, growing up within the confines of a convent, Laura has a sense of ignorance, but maybe that was the point. It would have been unrealistic for Laura to know everything, to have this sixth sense that would have done her wonders. Laura needed to open her eyes and be aware. Wasn’t that the point of Laura’s journey, despite any shortcomings?
Set in the late 1500s, Venice was a great setting for Cross My Heart. From the architecture and art, Gould brought light to the emotions that come from the Renaissance era. Add in the natural feel of the rivers and the streets, it was a perfect backdrop for the mystery of it all. Gould included artisan guilds, religious communities, as well as political intrigue. It added to the perfect world for Laura and the others. The mask on the cover is a perfect symbol for Venice, the story, and the characters – beautiful and wealthy on the outside, dark and intriguing on the inside. I thought it was a good play of symbolism, and it definitely carried throughout.
Gould’s style of writing was natural, bringing an ease to the flow and pacing of the story. The dialogue between the characters seemed realistic, at least from what I can imagine would take place in late 1500s Venice. I was a little annoyed with a few of the characters, but I’m pretty sure that’s how they were created. The story was filled with drama, and I really enjoyed it. From the masquerades and mystery of it all, it was thought provoking and the love story was romantic.
I suggest that you check out Sasha Gould’s Cross My Heart. Who knows what you’ll unmask next.