The midnight shadows of Renaissance Venice conceal intrigue, romance...and murder.
"Combines historical context with lush sensuality and nuanced wit." — Publisher's Weekly Bianca Salva's love of science has led her to defy the conventions of her day and illicitly practice medicine among the poor of Venice. She's managed to keep her pass time a secret—until she is discovered over the lifeless body of a young courtesan, by the last person she'd ever want to see.
Ian Foscari, Conte d'Aosto, is known for being rich, handsome...and heartless. Finding Bianca over the dead body, he concludes she's the murderer. Yet for reasons he cannot explain, her protests move him. He offers to give her one week to prove her innocence, but she'll have to move into his house and be his prisoner. Her other option: the authorities and certain death.
Bianca has no choice but to agree to his maddening terms. She's furious at having to cede her hard won freedom, and unprepared for the effect of his presence on her, for the longings he awakes in parts of her body she's only studied in books. As Bianca struggles to focus on finding the killer, Ian fights his own battle between the undeniable attraction he feels for her and the painful scars of his past.
When their mutual attraction blazes to life, they are both dazzled by it's force. Passion burns through their reserves, teaching them both to trust again. Love again. But this fragile alliance is soon tested. Lured into a web of scheming and betrayal, Bianca and Ian find themselves in a race against the clock to save their lives, their hearts, and the city of Venice itself.
"Jaffe...develops a sensual, exciting, and amusing tale, richly embellished with details of Renaissance life." — Library Journal
"Jaffe's characters are intriguing, and the plot's many twists and turns are wonderfully entertaining." — Booklist
"My Lord, I scarcely expected to see you here," says Bianca Salva, calmly, in the opening scene of this stellar debut novel set in Renaissance Venice. Bianca holds a bloody dagger over the dead body of Isabella Bellochio as she addresses Ian Foscari, who believes, since the dagger bears his coat of arms, that Bianca murdered Isabella to frame him. But Bianca, the sharp-witted and unconventional daughter of a physician, knows the dagger is not the murder weapon. The two banter with mutual vigor, contempt and sublimated lust--between Bianca's hilarious bouts of sneezing. Ian formulates a plan that allows him to investigate the enigmatic woman while satisfying his family's desire for him to wed. He will install Bianca in his palazzo as his fianc e and give her one week to prove her innocence. Bianca agrees on the condition that she can autopsy the corpse for her own iconoclastic research on female anatomy. Ian hides the body to prevent suspicion from falling on him until he can solve the mystery. A vivid collection of sensuous, dangerous characters complicate the plan, including secretive servants, an exhibitionist courtesan and Ian's lascivious ex-fianc e, as well as the quirky all-male Arboretti family. An unknown source, possibly the murderer, drops hints to the government regarding the whereabouts of Isabella's body, and Ian is still stubbornly suspicious of Bianca. Jaffe's sure prose moves to an exquisitely dramatic climax as Bianca's lot grows desperate. The intricacies of Venetian society, imaginative love scenes and a memorable cast enlivens Jaffe's creative and suspenseful plot. Since five more novels are promised in this series, one hopes that Jaffe will develop the fertile stories of the other Arboretti and their mysterious cousins, and continue to combine historical context with lush sensuality and nuanced wit. FYI: Jaffe holds a doctorate in Comparative Literature of the Renaissance.
Not enough conclusion
It was pretty good. And there WAS a conclusion, but there were also a lot of unanswered questions. I don't want to spoil anything, so without being specific, there were several elements of the mystery that were never concluded and left me baffled. If you're going to add so many layers (and there really were several), then you need to wrap it all up.
Stupid and predictable
The storyline was good, but
Several chapters would end suddenly mid-thought. It was highly frustrating to read from one chapter to the next and not know what happened in between.