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Golden sunlight streaming through the windows, the lapping of the water against the buildings, sounds of the boatmen as they pole their gondolas, plying their trade in 18th century Venice. These are the images evoked in the book Venice by Lynne Connolly.
Richard Kerre, Lord Strang, marries at the beginning of the book . It has been put out that he is doing so to satisfy his family. His sister was supposed to marry Lord Hareton, but the arrangement fell through. Then the unfortunate man died. His brother might have married Rose, the sister of the current Lord Hareton, but he is… ahem, unsuitable for matrimony. It falls then to Richard, to honor the family’s commitment and do his best to produce an acceptable heir. To all concerned, his marriage to Rose is for those purposes only. They alone know that through their prior adventures, they have fallen deeply in love.
They emerge from the cathedral in Exeter happy to face life together, when shots are fired and the couple is almost killed. On the very afternoon of their wedding, the newlyweds separate to find safety abroad, while others try to find the would-be killer. For several weeks, Rose travels with her husband’s man and her maid, from England, to Venice where Richard is waiting for her. Carier and Nichols are more than servants, they are also bodyguards and trusted companions.
Along the way, she meets another couple. The pleasant pair is also traveling to Venice, and they help her when she is injured. Imagine Rose’s surprise when they finally introduce themselves as Lord and Lady Strang, on their bride-trip.
The remainder of the book is cat and mouse, as Richard and Rose determine the game the imposters are playing and whether the killer has tracked them to Italy.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. The story is intriguing and held my attention, as Richard matched wits with a pair of con artists, all the while learning new and fascinating things about his bride. Rose discovers a wantonness for the physical side of marriage she hadn’t imagined, and that her husband truly has a deep and abiding love for her. Considering that she had accepted spinsterhood before meeting Richard, everything she experiences is new and wonderful.
The bulk of the story is told against the backdrop of Venice, and Ms. Connolly does a splendid job of bringing the city to life, from the dress of the inhabitants to the Doges Palace and St. Mark’s. The reader experiences the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge just as Rose does.
This book is the third in a series, and therein lies the only fault I found with it. While Venice can stand alone as a story, Ms. Connolly refers to many incidents in the previous books, and they were never fully explained. I found myself feeling left out, the history being necessary to completely understand the present. However, that was minor compared to the enjoyment I got from this book.