I've never read a Courtesan novel before and I must say, I really enjoyed it. I found the female lead oddly refreshing in her ability to laugh at herself and her complete Independence. Now I know that most romances are based on a female with a strong mind but I find most still require a certain degree of 'rescuing'. Francesca Bonnard, I'm quite confident, would've survived the plot of the novel without the hero James. But then we wouldn't have had that magnificent scene at the bell tower at dawn which was, in one word, HOT.
And who would want to do without James anyway? He was a devilishly delicious hero who is more than capable of matching Francesca. I agreed with Debbie that him being tired of being a spy gave the story a refreshing take and it certainly aided with the plot. Because the hero is not so entirely devoted to his country, he doesn't really end up in a "the girl or England" kind of conundrum.
The plot was fun and easy to follow. Having said that, I would've enjoyed a bit more of a dramatic climax featuring her ex-husband. I'm still not really sure what was with all the disguises at the start of the novel either. But these little things didn't really distract from the story the author was telling and it certainly still managed to provide some great escapism. Venice in this time period really was evoked in beautiful, convincing detail.
The one thing that REALLY annoyed me however was the inside cover art. Our hero, James Cordier, is supposed to be an Italian God (duh!) with gorgeous black ringlets the heroinne loves to run her fingers through. In my mind, he's something of a moderately long haired Raul Bova. See below pic...although I have no idea what he's planning to do with that coat hanger. In fact, the harder I stare, the more it looks like it's attached to one of his nipples.
But instead of Raul, the hero looks more like Kevin Sorbo in his Hercules hey-day. Remember him? While Mr Sorbo has a certain charm, he's not exactly my idea of an Italian Stallion.
What is with that? Did no one at the publishing house read the book?! I will still never understand how something as simple as hair colour can get so royally stuffed up. Maybe to the publisher, this book, a mere romance, doesn't deserve the time to actually bother. If I was the author, that little point would infuriate me. Aaah but I digress.