Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: October 29, 2011

Venice, 1585.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.

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I was optimistic going into Cross My Heart and perhaps that is why I wasn't too impressed. I don't mean to be a buzz kill, the book is a wonderful young adult historic fiction, but unlike some authors, I don't think Gould's work will be as appealing to older readers of the genre. 

For one thing, the romance felt manufactured. Laura and Giacomo fall for one another after only a handful of meetings. Younger readers might overlook this in their enthusiasm for the intrigue of the Segreta and the darkly mysterious depiction of Venice, but I think older readers look for a little more substance. 

Laura, for all that she is the heroine of the book, suffers similar issues. Outwardly, she is interesting enough, but inside, she is dull as dishwater. I never got the sense that anything truly mattered to her. Not her relationship with her family, not her involvement with the Segreta and certainly not her relationship with the young artist. Gould's leading lady tends to go through the motions while the rest of the cast carries the story. 

To her credit, Gould did throw the occasional curve ball, but in the end I didn't feel it was enough. The mystery felt too contrived, the solution too convenient and outcome too neatly wrapped up. I don't believe this poses much of a problem for the target audience but  I feel older readers will have a tough time sinking their teeth into Gould's story. There just isn't enough here to chew. 

Decent, if not particularly memorable. Recommended to fans of Lisa Tawn Bergren's River of Time series. 

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Laura, men have always governed women - whether at home, when a husband gives orders to his wife, or through the complex machinations of the Grand Council. Men say they rule by the grace of God, but the source of their power is hypocrisy, vice and corruption. The Segreta is a tonic to this poison. By meeting here, we determine the fortunes of Venice. Men may be princes, priests, even the Doge, but the strings that control them are in our hands.
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Sam (Tiny Library) said...

That's a shame, this sounds very good from the synopsis. I think I'll give this one a miss.

Anonymous said...

It had potential, that's for sure.