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Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould
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Cross My Heart

by Sasha Gould

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Very good love story set in 16th century Venice. Love action and secret societies! ( )
  WarriorLibrary | Sep 25, 2013 |
As the second daughter, Laura is shut up in a convent while her beloved sister Beatrice is living a life of luxury, engaged to a wealthy, powerful man named Vincenzo. When Laura is suddenly summoned to her father's house in Venice, she thinks that all her prayers have been answered. But when she arrives in Venice, she learns that her sister is dead, and she is set to marry Vincenzo in Beatrice's place. When her bridegroom turns out to be a disgusting old man, she is approached by a secret society of women who promise her they can take her of her husband to be, in exchange for a secret...

This was a quick read. I finished it in about 2 hours. But I wish it had been longer. I liked the concept, and the setting. The Venice of the period was quite vivid (I'm not surprised to see that the author lived there are a child) and I thought it was the perfect setting for a story revolving around secrets, vendettas, and murders. But I wish that things had been fleshed out more. I would have loved a more dense narrative, and a more complex plot. I found the reveals to be a bit simplistic. The romance felt a little rushed. I think all these problems could have been fixed if the book had been longer. As it was, it felt a bit unsatisfying which is disappointing, because I liked the characters, and the concept, just not the execution.

( )
  shojo_a | Apr 4, 2013 |
As the second daughter, Laura is shut up in a convent while her beloved sister Beatrice is living a life of luxury, engaged to a wealthy, powerful man named Vincenzo. When Laura is suddenly summoned to her father's house in Venice, she thinks that all her prayers have been answered. But when she arrives in Venice, she learns that her sister is dead, and she is set to marry Vincenzo in Beatrice's place. When her bridegroom turns out to be a disgusting old man, she is approached by a secret society of women who promise her they can take her of her husband to be, in exchange for a secret...

This was a quick read. I finished it in about 2 hours. But I wish it had been longer. I liked the concept, and the setting. The Venice of the period was quite vivid (I'm not surprised to see that the author lived there are a child) and I thought it was the perfect setting for a story revolving around secrets, vendettas, and murders. But I wish that things had been fleshed out more. I would have loved a more dense narrative, and a more complex plot. I found the reveals to be a bit simplistic. The romance felt a little rushed. I think all these problems could have been fixed if the book had been longer. As it was, it felt a bit unsatisfying which is disappointing, because I liked the characters, and the concept, just not the execution.

( )
  shojo_a | Apr 4, 2013 |
My heart went out to Laura from the beginning. How could I not feel for all of the poor girls that were thrust into convents for such awful reasons, regardless of the girls' own inclinations. Laura's narration was rather heartbreaking. As you start reading, it's just so evident that she is completely without hope for her own life; she has given up entirely. So young and her life is already effectively over. Although she is not the brightest (and she lacks worldly knowledge because she spent so many years in the convent), Laura does the best that she can, and, because of this, she made a good heroine. The hero was pretty great, too, but I'll leave him a surprise.

Secret societies aren't generally my cup of tea. This one, though, I found much more scintillating than usual. What I loved was that it was a group of women, marginalized in society, but controlling Venice behind the scenes. No one is safe from the actions of the Segreta, even the Doge, the ruler of the city. Of course, they're just as corrupt as male political groups, but I do like to see women getting revenge on the patriarchy.

I also found myself doing a lot of thinking about courtship in that time period. Of course, I knew already that fiancees were regularly swapped to a different child, as though they are interchangeable, and that marriages were arranges after only a handful of meetings. So, none of it was new, but, for some reason, I found myself really thinking about the reality of living that life. Even the guy she gets a crush on, she only meets him a couple of times before they begin an illicit relationship of exchanging letters and talking when they catch a moment alone. Given the limited freedom women had, relationships escalated so quickly.

Cross My Heart is well-written and entertaining. If you love young adult literature or historical fiction, you'll want to get your hands on this one. I know I'll be reading more novels by Sasha Gould! Plus, look at the pretty cover!

3.5 stars ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
From the initial sentence of, "His gondola slips through the water like a knife cutting into dark silk," I knew I was in for an atmospheric historical read. I love when settings are strong, vivid and alive almost (see: Constantinople in Theodora: Empress. Actress. Whore; Prague in Daughter of Smoke and Bone; Prague again in The Book of Blood and Shadow, etc.) and my hopes were set high for Venice and for Cross My Heart itself. The cover is pretty apt for the novel as well: showing both the light and dark sides to the fabled Italian city and foretelling a dangerous future for our intrepid heroine. Laura della Scala's tale didn't enrapture me as much as I'd anticipated from the eerie first sentence but instead grew on me slowly, involving me more and more as each chapter drew to a suspenseful close. A slow-burner rather than an instantly engrossing read, Cross My Heart should definitely be given the benefit of the doubt and read to the end.

Laura, a likeable if not totally remarkable teenage protagonist, was consigned to a convent at an early age. With an older sister to marry off ("through nothing but an accident of birth, she remains free, while I languish") and a spendthrift father Laura is nothing but a burden on her family. So once thrust from the convent, Laura is generally and genuinely unlike most girls her age of Venice: she is sheltered, naive and trusting - that is to say weak in a city of sharks above water. Laura's subsequent enrollment into the secret society of La Segreta exposes her to dark elements in her own hometown she never suspected. Going from under the thumb of the dictator-esque Abbess to the supervision of her father, Laura is never the one making the decisions about her own life: a situation many teens reading this will find easy to relate with and similar to their own modern-day lives. With that act of quiet rebellion that is simultaneously the first time Laura chooses something for herself, Laura eventually realizes she has only exchanged the convent's reins for her father's and her father's for the mysterious women in the society. There was only ever an illusion of control once she joined them, and Laura's life gets unpredictable and dark in the streets and canals of Venice.

The style of writing is elegant and feels entirely natural. I enjoyed Sasha Gould's consistently smooth writing and simple but steady style. Her style lends itself well to the tone of the book as well as to the city of Venice itself. I did wish for more detail and life from Venice the city; I loved what was there but I just wanted for more about the city and less about the colorful pageantry and parade of the noble class and their balls. There were several side plotlines threaded in with the mystery of Laura's sister's death that seemed slightly generic and fully predictable. The teenage romance with the painter, the "reveal" . . even the decades-long feud that was ended with a whimper... all seemed slightly underdeveloped. What kept me going and interested was Venice itself, as well as the original mystery of what happened to Beatrice and why she was murdered. That compelling plotline was pulled off marvelously well: I was genuinely fooled by many a red herring placed by Laura's suspicions/the author and the eventual villain surprised and delighted me with what it meant for the storyline. In a slowly paced novel, I just wished it had felt less rushed at the conclusion and more in pace with the meat of the story.

Ms. Gould's keen eye for setting and atmosphere provide an excellent - and darkly alluring - setting for a murder-mystery with a splash of teenage romance. Though it was not a perfect outing and better than my first impressions lead me to believe, Cross My Heart ended with me keen on getting my hands on the as-yet-unnamed sequel set in the same beautiful and deadly city. Keep an eye out for this one later in the year: it's scheduled to hit the shelves March 13, 2012. ( )
  msjessie | Feb 5, 2013 |
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When Laura della Scala's older sister drowns, Laura leaves the shelter of the convent where she has spent the last six years and enters the upper echelons of sixteenth-century Venetian society, while she searches for the truth about what happened to her sister.… (more)

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