When a crime was committed in tumultuous sixteenth-century Venice. Sandro Cavalli, Lord of the Night, could be counted upon to bring the malefactors to justice. Strong and rough-hewn as a noble oak, his inborn code of morality was as strong as his mighty shoulders. Nothing and no one could sway him from his duty.
No one until Laura Bandello. She was a woman of lustrous beauty and disarming charm. Yet why did Laura know so much about the problems plaguing Venice? Could someone so fair, so innocent, be involved in a shocking plot?
The only thing Sandro knew for certain was that he wanted this woman more than anything he had ever wanted in his life- even if it meant sacrificing everything he held dear.
I have enjoyed some Susan Wiggs books in the past and couldn't let the opportunity pass of trying this one when I found it through Bookmooch. Not only it has been rated highly in several review sites but the Venice setting and the Italian characters sounded original and very appealing.
It is an older book though and in some ways it shows. There's a big age difference between the hero and the heroine for instance, but I do have to say that in terms of maturity they seemed better balanced than in most books where this happens, Laura does some pretty naive things sometimes but so does Sandro and he does seem upset at finding himself attracted to someone half his age so the subject comes up within the plot. Laura does seem more mature when she is dealing with the opportunities open to her and the work she is so very focused on.
The main plot is a mystery. There's a murder and Sandro and Laura come together when he is investigating that death. He is an older nobleman, a member of one of the most important families in Venice. She is an aspiring painter, who has decided to become a courtesan to pay for her art, since women are not allowed at the Academy, and thus receive commissions.
Although the attraction is there from the beginning the obstacles to them being together are more than many. They can't marry because Sandro's position in society would be ruined and Laura virginity is about to be auctioned to the highest bidder. However they keep meeting as more murders occur and danger seems to follow Laura around. I did like them as characters but wasn't completely convinced of their falling in love, Laura was beautiful but they didn't seem to have that much in common besides their interest in solving the murders.
I did like to know about Venice's society and the bit of history included. I have no idea if the "trentuno" was real or not (I would certainly hope not) and those bits did make me uncomfortable, I did not feel it was needed to make the story more tragic. The ending was quite surprising; I definitely did not see that twist coming. In the end it made for an entertaining read although it did not find its way into my favourites' shelf.