Heart of Glass
Renaissance Venice gets an injection of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS in Sasha Gould’s HEART OF GLASS, the follow-up to CROSS MY HEART. In the first volume of the series, heroine Laura della Scalla is released from her convent-prison upon the tragic death of her sister, Beatrice. After embarking on an investigation to uncover Beatrice’s murderer, Laura becomes a member of the Segreta, an organization of Venetian women who influence events in the city with their knowledge of intimate secrets. Laura also finds love with Roberto, son of the Doge of Venice, and the two are engaged to be married.
"From gondolas to galas, Laura takes on the status quo --- and turns it upside down in her quest for the truth."
HEART OF GLASS opens on Laura and Roberto playfully sparring with one another in a swordfight. As her brother, Lysander, returns home to Venice with his new bride, Emilia, Laura is dispatched by the Segreta to an abandoned warehouse to welcome a secret visitor. Laura attends the secret rendezvous, but the mysterious guest doesn’t show his or her face, instead fleeing the scene.
Laura’s luck gets progressively worse. When she next goes to visit Roberto, she finds her bewildered fiancé standing over a dead woman, a bloody sword in his hand. Roberto can’t remember what happened. One moment, he was attending a Venetian ball; the next, he looms over the dead body. He is taken away to the Piombi, the deadliest prison in Venice. Laura is distraught; there’s no way she can really help Roberto by herself, so she turns to the Segreta. Focused on helping an abused woman named Teresa, the Segreta demurs.
The political situation is further complicated by the arrival of an embassy to the Ottoman Empire to Venice. The dashing Prince Halim is his family’s ambassador, and, in Roberto’s absence, he captivates Laura. But Laura is astonished when Halim claims that the woman Roberto allegedly killed was Halim’s sister, Aysim --- who also happened to be the woman who sought out the Segreta’s help. Laura stands helplessly by as an enraged Halim challenges Roberto to a duel, only to to have tragedy strike. The whole city turns on Laura, the betrothed of an accused murderer.
The mysteries escalate as the lies and secrets entwine around one another like snakes. Why would an Ottoman princess journey to Venice? From whom was she fleeing? As Laura grieves for her seemingly doomed fiancé, she finds herself drawn to Halim, whose own charisma and worldliness are irresistible. Laura might also be in danger herself --- no matter where she goes, she sees a flash of color behind her, the twirl of a skirt trailing her. Her mortal enemy had died in a boat fire, and no one can survive that...can they?
Laura is a sympathetic heroine who is caught up in a maelstrom of events that soon spiral beyond her control. She does her best to stay above water, but the fate of Venice itself soon hangs in the balance. She must learn to control her emotions and keep her secrets inside, while scheming and plotting just as well as the political masterminds of Venetian and Ottoman societies. From gondolas to galas, Laura takes on the status quo --- and turns it upside down in her quest for the truth.
Reviewed by Carly Silver on March 11, 2013