Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: Heart of Glass - Sasha Gould

Heart of Glass by Sasha Gould
Series: Cross My Heart #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery
Published on March 12, 2013
Published by Delacorte Books
Pages: 336
Read From: 5.2.13 - 5.3.13

Venice, 1585 
Three months have passed since Laura della Scala solved her sister's murder after joining the Segreta, a powerful society of women who trade protection for secrets. Now Laura is engaged to her true love, Roberto, and she has never been happier. 
But the night Laura is sent on her first important mission for the Segreta, Roberto is found with the body of a dead woman in his room. Halim, an irresistibly handsome Turkish prince on a diplomatic visit to the city, identifies the woman as his sister and insists that Roberto be executed for her murder, or the Ottoman Empire will attack Venice. 
Laura is desperate to save both her city and her fiance. But as the evidence against Roberto mounts and Laura finds herself increasingly drawn to Halim, she begins to wonder whether everything Roberto told her was a lie. What Laura uncovers is a conspiracy that involves nearly everyone she knows.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No?  I love, love, love the pretty black-and-gold fan, but there's a huge leering character impersonator staring at me!! Ahhh!!!! I preferred it when she wore a mask.

Characters: Laura continues to be a wonderfully unannoying protagonist. She's capable and takes action when no one else will - all without having The Attitude. Heck, when she's taken captive at one point, she blows up an entire ship! How awesome is that? She doesn't sit back and let stuff happen all around her. When people she loves are threatened, she jumps in and tries to stop it. Roberto (Giacomo) was sadly not in Heart of Glass much, and I did miss him. it was nice to finally meet Laura's brother Lysander and his wife Emilia, though. I neither disliked nor became attached to Lysander, but I did really like Emilia. She was quiet and sweet, but definitely had her own opinions. However, I did not like Halim from the beginning. He was too familiar with Laura, and there was just something about him that wasn't right. In the end, I was thoroughly satisfied with his character, but I can't say why without giving away a major spoiler.

The Romance: The synopsis threatens a love triangle with the arrival of handsome Halim. I was dreading this throughout the whole book. Laura is sensible, and I liked her and Roberto's relationship. I didn't want her to suddenly turn into a nonsensical female simply because she meets another guy who happens to have intriguing eyes and a bright smile. Let me reassure like-minded Readers: the love triangle is practically nil. Laura comments a few times on Halim's attractiveness, but she remains steadfast to Roberto, and then something happens that completely obliterates any possibility of a love triangle. So have no fears! Laura is saved, and she and Roberto have no unpleasant fights.

Plot: Laura is soon to be married to Roberto, the Doge's eldest son. Her brother has come home for a visit, with his charming wife Emilia. Her work with the Segreta has been satisfying, and things are overall looking up. But then Roberto is discovered in his apartments with the body of a dead woman, blood drenching his hands. He's arrested, and only Laura believes in his innocence. When the woman is identified by the Turkish prince Halim as his sister, it sends the diplomatic negotiations the Doge has entered into over the edge, and soon Venice is threatened with war. Meanwhile, it's discovered that the Segreta may have a traitor in their midst, and Laura has concerns that her old enemy Carina may in fact not have died, as she once thought. Intrigue is rampant in the streets of Venice, and Laura is running out of time to save her fiance, the Segreta, and her beloved city. The plot of Heart of Glass was better than Cross My Heart, if only because it had fewer nigglies. Revelations that promised foreshadowing actually ended up playing an important role, and character motivations were made clear. Like with Cross My Heart, there's a lot of twists and turns going on, and also like Cross My Heart, some of the twists are quite obvious. [Spoiler] I knew right off that Paulina was the traitor [End spoiler] It didn't make them any less good, though, and there are still a number of surprising revelations, along with some surprising deaths. I wasn't really sure if I liked the return of Carina. How many books have ended with the death of a villain, only to discover in the sequel that against impossible odds, the villain actually survived? I think the book could have still been just as good without the inclusion of Carina, but she wasn't an awful addition, so I got over my initial disapproval.

Believability: I sadly don't know a great deal about Venetian politics, so I can't say much in that area. But as with Cross My Heart, it feels like the Author has done her research; certainly in the social protocol section. True, Laura goes about the city unescorted several times, but she and other characters express concern over how this will appear to other people, and they decide that given the circumstances, it's a necessary risk. The one thing that bothered me was the use of horse-drawn coaches within Venice. As far as I know, Venice never had these. I could be mistaken, and please let me know if I am, but it struck me as being incorrect.

Writing Style: Sadly, it is still in present tense, and it doesn't suit Heart of Glass any better than it did Cross My Heart. However, the Author has abandoned a lot of her superfluous details, and she once more managed to create a mysteriously enchanting Venice. I fell in love with it.

Content: None.

Conclusion: While the climax is certainly exciting, I also felt that it really didn't need to be so dramatic. I loved all of the conspirators - as soon as one was exposed, another popped up, until there hardly seemed to be anyone Laura could trust. In some ways it was overwhelming, but it also worked. What felt like "too much" was Laura being abducted. It really wasn't necessary to have such an extravagant ending; I felt that the Author probably could have still had satisfying comeuppance for the villains without going through a big sea battle. That said, a part of me also kind of enjoyed it. Laura once more got to show off her resourceful and determined nature, and the villain's death was very satisfying indeed. And he didn't make the grievous error of monologuing! Yay! The book ends with the promise of a sequel, and quite honestly I'm not sure how I feel about the two villains she chose to spare returning. It's getting a little perilously close to cliche, but maybe it will be all right. Heart of Glass really surprised me. With the possibility of a love triangle, I thought it was going to be a huge disappointment, but it wasn't. Laura proved her mettle to me once again, and I look forward to seeing her continue to be a good protagonist.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fourteen-and-up, great for historical fiction and mystery fans.

Others in This Series:
1)Cross My Heart
2)Heart of Glass

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