The Renaissance has fascinated readers, art lovers and historians for generations. Leave it to a grand mistress of the genre to bring this glorious, politically tumultuous and vivid era to life in her Silk Merchant’s Daughters series. Strong women, sensual heroes and political intrigue all seamlessly meld with a powerful love story; Small delivers what readers want!

Since her sister’s disastrous marriage, Francesca d’Angelo’s parents have given the strong-willed girl freedom in choosing a husband, but she turns all her suitors away. Then, she is summoned to the palace of the Duke of Terreno Boscoso as one of three young women who will compete to become the bride of his heir, Rafaello. Francesca firmly believes she will not be chosen. When she is, and her parents agree to the match, she flees the palace. She finds sanctuary working in a country inn, where she meets and falls in love with the huntsman. The handsome, powerfully sensual man awakens her desires and Francesca would stay — but fate intervenes. Francesca will build a marriage filled with shocking truths and surprising passion, and stave off bandits, the power-hungry French king and a crazed man bent on revenge. (NAL, Apr., 400 pp., $15.00)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin