Heart of Glass
This sequel to Cross My Heart, a thriller set in 16th-century Venice, finds the teenage heroine, Laura, engaged to her beloved Roberto, the Doge’s son. She is now a full-fledged member of the Segreta, an all-female society that wields power from behind the scenes by trading in secrets. When she is assigned to carry out a mission for the Segreta at the glassworks of Murano, her contact runs away, and the body of a murdered woman is found in Roberto’s apartment. The woman turns out to be the sister of Halim, a Turkish prince on a diplomatic mission to Venice. Halim threatens to attack Venice unless Roberto is swiftly tried and executed. Laura is the only person who believes in his innocence; even the women of the Segreta seem unwilling to help. Laura is determined to clear her beloved’s name and save Venice from invasion while resisting the handsome Turkish prince’s advances. But matters are further complicated by a coup by an ambitious admiral, and the reappearance of an old enemy.
Gould does an excellent job recreating the atmosphere of Renaissance Venice, in spite of a few minor anachronisms; for example, the characters drink a lot of tea, which wouldn’t have been so easily available at the time. Laura is a strong and courageous heroine, loyal to Roberto when everyone else believes him to be a murderer. The woman of the Segreta are fascinating, mysterious characters, and Laura is never quite sure where their loyalties lie. However, I did feel that the central section of the novel dragged a bit, with too many unnecessary complications, and I thought this book wasn’t as tightly focused as the previous volume. The exciting ending made up for any deficiencies, though.