It's 1585 in Venice. Laura della Scalla has been in a convent for six years. After her mother died her father just gave her to the convent so he only had to pay to support her older sister. Nice guy, huh? But her sister dies, so her father gets Laura out of the convent to marry the extremely creepy old guy that her sister was supposed to marry. My heart broke for Laura and what she had been through. I found myself hoping for her happiness, as none of Laura's friends and relatives seemed to. There are a lot of self-centered personalities, some that appear to be friends at first, that surround our main character. Almost no one is what they seem.
Laura is approached by a secret group of women called the Segreta. They will help her with her problem if she has a secret to give them. And, thankfully, Laura has a huge secret. So, Laura is saved from her horrible marriage, but that isn't the end of her adventure. She suspects her sister may have been murdered, and she thinks the Segreta may be responsible. She begins to rue the day that she aligned herself with this mysterious group.
There's also a painter, Giacomo, who has caught Laura's eye. But he is a totally inappropriate match, and her father insists she get a proper, titled husband, so he can reap the benefits. Cross My Heart has beautiful dresses, luscious banquets, and hunting parties, as well as intrigue and murder. Gould's pacing really kept me turning the pages--just the right mix of description and action. The romance was a bit "instant," but that was forgivable.
Cross My Heart is a "happy ending" story and somewhat formulaic, but I loved the formula. I've been to Venice so I could picture Piazza San Marco, San Michele, and the gondolas, which perhaps made the setting more alive for me. Cross My Heart is a quick read that I couldn't put down. I'd enthusiastically recommend this one to any historical romance fan.
Published by Delacorte, March 13, 2012
eARC obtained from NetGalley
272 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)
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