Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

Title:  Cross My Heart  
Author:  Sasha Gould
Genre:  Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Children’s Books
Imprint:  Delacourt Books for Young Readers
Format:  Digital Galley via NetGalley
Release Date:  March 13, 2012

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 Segrata, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segrata seems like the answer to Laura’s prayers. 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 Segrata and the women she has come to trust. (Summary courtesy of NetGalley)

Cross My Heart is set against the backdrop of beautiful Venice, Italy. But that beauty is not always what it seems. Mystery, intrigue and even murder abound in a city with more secrets than one can imagine. Those secrets are collected by the Segrata, a group of society women that may be more powerful than the men who run their city.  Somehow, Laura della Scala has found herself entwined with these women and she is unsure if that is a good thing…or the worst mistake of her young life.

I must admit, I am a sucker for historical fiction. The beauty and pageantry of the 1500s to the 1700s fascinates me. The fact that this book is set in 1585 was an immediate draw for me. Another draw: it is set in the one country in the world I am dying to visit—Italy. So, Cross My Heart had a lot of expectations to live up to right off the bat. Luckily, it did not disappoint. It gives the reader a strong plot and great characters.  It has a good, strong plot—after spending six years in a convent, Laura is suddenly summoned home after the death of her sister. Sadly, the death of her sister is not the only difficulty Laura must overcome. Cross My Heart also has some wonderful characters, ones I came to really like and care about. Laura is a wonderful heroine, searching for who she really is and finding her way in a world that is completely foreign to her. Despite the time period the book is set in, Laura is a strong female character with a mind of her own. And my new book crush has to be Giacomo. Granted, I do tend to melt when it comes to those Italian boys (after all, I married one), but Giacomo stole my heart. He is so sweet and sensitive, I just adored him. 

Perhaps the best part of this story was the mystery of Beatrice’s death and the Segrata. I cannot really say too much about it as I could give away integral parts of the story, but suffice to say that this book will keep you guessing. I swear every time I thought I had it all figured out, I turned out to be completely wrong. And I mean completely wrong. That is part of what makes this book so good. I don’t want to read a book that I figure out early on, I want it to keep me guessing right up until the end. Cross My Heart did just that.

Finally, I absolutely loved the fact that Cross My Heart is a stand-alone book. It is not “Book 1” or “Part 1.” I actually liked that, because I am getting a little weary reading books that leave me hanging. Being able to sit down and read a book from beginning to end and not have to wait another year for any kind of resolution was wonderful! That is not to say that I wouldn’t enjoy reading more from Ms. Gould or reading more about Laura della Scala or the Segrata, I just enjoyed reading a book that had an actual end.

All in all, Cross My Heart is a great read. It is filled with mystery, intrigue and beauty. I really enjoyed it and I will be recommending it to my librarian and teacher friends, as well as my daughters.

My grade for Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould:


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