From Publishers Weekly
The city-states of Renaissance Italy serve as the vibrant backdrop for this less than successful homage to The Da Vinci Code
from Fiorato (TheGlassblower of Murano
). In 1482 Florence, while prostitute Luciana Vetra is posing for Botticelli's Primavera
, she makes a casual comment that terrifies the artist. Sent away unpaid, Luciana steals a miniature of the painting in revenge. When she discovers that an assassin is on her trail, she flees Florence with the most trustworthy companion she can find, handsome and cultured monk Brother Guido della Torre. As the two decode the secrets hidden in the painting (and fall in love), its meanings send them on a quest through Italy to save their own lives and avert a conspiracy involving the greatest powers of the day. Luciana's energetic narrative voice keeps the pages turning, but lengthy passages deconstructing La Primavera
yield secrets, unlike those in Dan Brown's bestseller, with little resonance for modern readers. (Apr.)
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Luciana Vetra, revered prostitute of Florence, earns the chance to pose for Botticelli as Flora in Primavera, but the session goes awry when her innocent words anger the artist. Not one to endure an insult, she retaliates by stealing a smaller version of the painting. Her roommate and patron are killed when the artist sends agents to reclaim the painting, leaving Luciana with only one ally to turn to, the comely novice Brother Guido who has tried to convert her. They flee Florence for their lives and to solve the deadly secret hidden within the artwork. Following her debut, The Glassblower of Murano (2009), Fiorato creates her own masterpiece set at the height of Medici power. Renaissance Italy comes alive in brilliant sights and sounds from marbled halls to filthy sewers. Luciana is irrepressible, unabashed, and an absolute hoot while Guido foils her nicely as the learned, noble Holmes to her Watson. Political intrigue is deftly woven throughout, allowing readers to try their best sleuthing. Fiorato even layers in a charming love story for good measure. --Nina C. Davis