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The Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michaels
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The Secrets of Casanova

by Greg Michaels

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* Copy courtesy of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours *

I didn't know anything about the real life of Casanova going into this novel, apart from knowing he was a ladies' man in Europe a couple of hundred years ago.

Out of money and unable to return home to his beloved Venice, Casanova and his valet Petrine (great character) seek refuge with Casanova's brother. Always on the lookout for a patron, out of money and a social climber, Casanova takes off on an adventure in an effort to solve a riddle and seek a treasure worth more than money; which is where the novel really takes off.

The Secrets of Casanova is a fictional account of Casanova's life, and while it takes some liberties with the facts, many of the events and people Casanova met and interacted with (including Voltaire and Pope Clement XIII), actually took place.

Not surprisingly, there are several sex scenes throughout the novel, however Michaels has painted Casanova as a giving and generous lover; perhaps that's what made him attractive to the ladies...

Michaels includes many words and events that piqued my interest along the way, and I was frequently leaving the tale to learn more, the events just too interesting to ignore. One such event was the Lisbon earthquake, which I learned was a real event that took place in 1755 and killed anywhere between 10,000-100,000 people.

Here's my favourite quote from the novel, which gives you an indication of the author's writing style:
"But then Frenchmen are relatively polite. They, for instance, step around a starving peasant. The Russians? They slay the peasant, slice open his belly and shove their feet inside to warm their toes." Page 131

Unforgettable and bursting with imagery! I recommend The Secrets of Casanova for lovers of historical fiction, and those wishing to embark on a refreshing and exciting adventure story. ( )
  Carpe_Librum | Oct 16, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
50 pages into this one and I was happily thinking, "Hello! This author is a true fan of Alexandre Dumas, or at least of a like mind as the French author!" This story has the delicious qualities I have come to love in Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers - more so the lighter fare that is The Three Musketeers, although dark and brooding do enter into the mix in this story. Michaels has taken the historical Paris, the Venetian personalities of Michele Grimani and Giacomo Girolomo Casanova - making use of Grimani's role as a member of the Iquisitori de Stato and Casanova's imprisonment in I Piombi prison, his adventuring personality and his love of women - to come up with a rather interesting historical adventure story. Add in a mysterious puzzle to solve, references to the Knights Templar and an encounter with pirates on the high seas, and the story has more than enough literary ammunition to keep the reader glued to the pages.... or does it?

I loved the first half, or more like, the first two-thirds of the story, with its dramatic flair, its intrigue and it richly drawn scenery. It is when our adventurers hit Lisbon and the story shifts gears that I started to have some doubts about this otherwise wonderful read. Some of the later parts of the story didn't quite work for me and while Michaels is able to wrap almost everything up at the end, I was left with some niggling concerns that what started out as one book had somehow become two, such that I wasn't fully satisfied in the end. The characters fit into the period of high deceit and cunning that was 18th century Europe, even if some of the dialogue doesn't. The author does admit to taking literary license in writing this story and that it should be viewed as a work of fiction for entertainment purposes, so if you want historical accuracy, don't pick this one up. If you are like me and are more willing to just let the author spin a yarn, and if you enjoy stories of adventure and intrigue against a Parisian and Venetian backdrop, then this may be a good book for you to escape into, away from our contemporary world.

Overall this was an good read - I am a sucker for a historical adventure story! - but like I said, it lost its page-turning quality in the last one third of the book, for me anyways. For a debut novel, it is quite good. I enjoyed this one enough that I look forward to any future literary works Michaels may write and publish. ( )
  lkernagh | Mar 24, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It took me a bit to start this book and then finish it. This book was not what I expected. I thought Casanova would be all mushy and love. It had a bit of that, but it was more of a thriller. I ended up loving this book. The story line and characters are all innerwoven and intensely deep characters. The ending had me enthralled. Wanting to know the who and why. Definitely worth the read! ( )
  JenniferS. | Mar 18, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The first thing that stood out in this book for me was that I very much enjoyed the prose. I felt it was really well written; both descriptions, and dialogue. The characters had their own unique voices, and descriptions were succinct yet provided me with lush imagery. It didn't feel overly fluffy, but was not challenging enough that I had trouble if I wanted to pick it up while in a noisy coffeeshop. A good balance for a book that you can relax to, but not feel like you've gone through something overly saccharine.
I felt a little bit as though the plot meandered at times, which made for some slow going at the beginning, but eventually I settled in.
  foldedleaves | Feb 25, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm not much of a mystery reader, but I love historical fiction. It took a few chapters for me to settle in and become engrossed in the mystery. Michaels has written a novel rich in intrigue, passion and detail. I would definitely recommend this book to both historical fiction and mystery lovers. ( )
  kcwilliam44 | Jan 16, 2014 |
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Paris of 1755 is bloated with opportunity. That's the way Jacques Casanova, an unredeemed adventurer with an ever-surging appetite for pleasure, needs it. But times, men, and gods are changing -- and Jacques' luck is fading. When he is thrust to the center of a profound mystery, he doesn't care if vice or virtue leads him onward. "After all," he declares, "a man who asks himself too many questions is an unhappy man." But as Jacques' challenges mount, what questions will he ask? What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? Loosely based on Casanova's life of intrigue, peril, and passion, Michaels' The Secrets of Casanova will keep you burning the midnight oil.… (more)

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