I picked up this book from the library after reading about it on Beth Fish Reads. It sounded intriguing, so I thought I'd give it a go.
From the book jacket:
'Claire Donovan always dreamed of visiting Venice, though not as a chaperone for a surly teenager. But she can't pass up this chance to complete her Ph. D. thesis on Alessandra Rossetti, a mysterious courtesan who wrote a secret letter to the Venetian Council warning of a Spanish plot to overthrow the Venetian Republic in 1618...'
The Rossetti Letter is almost like two books in one, the story of Claire's attempts to locate and interpret the documents that will allow her to finally complete her paper and move on with her life, and Alessandra's story of sensuality, political intrigue and violence.
Claire's story unfolds as a textbook formula romance novel. If you've read romances then you know what I mean...honourable heroine is lonely and desperately in need of love to bring her back to life after a trauma (death/divorce) has caused her to close herself off from the world...said heroine is transported to an exotic location where she faces challenges...heroine meets two men - one is attractive and lovely (and turns out to be all wrong for her), and the other rubs her the wrong way immediately, but turns out to be much nicer than he first appeared (Mr Darcy, anyone?)...need I go on...?
Unfortunately Claire's story also suffers from an initial premise that is just not believable. What newly remarried father (whose first wife is in a mental institution after shooting him), allows his 14 year old daughter to be chaperoned for a week in Venice by a woman he has never met before??? What 14 year old girl who finds herself in this circumstance learns to like and respect her chaperone in only a day or two???
Despite these faults, I did enjoy this book. Alessandra's story feels almost like it is written by a completely different author. Perhaps Christi Phillips is more comfortable writing in the historical context?
And I must admit that Phillips was successful in making Claire a sympathetic character. I do care what happens to Claire next! Perhaps at some time in the future I will read Phillips again and find out, but I'm not rushing out to do so.
Overall, an enjoyable read if you don't look too closely at it!