ONE NIGHT IN VENICE
A member of the Catholic Church, Jessica Leonardo is also a healer, and wears a mask at all times, fearing she will be branded a witch if others see her birthmark. As a Marrano (a Jew converted to Catholicism), Jessica is careful to be faithful for fear she will be executed as a heretic. When Francis Cavendish asks for a healing massage, she fears the Church has sent him to trap her.
Francis is in Venice to spy on a courtesan, Cosma di Luna. Francis has deep secrets, and reveals much to Jessica during his treatments, soon finding himself attracted to her. But what lengths will Cosma go to as a woman scorned?
Ms. Phillips has written a wonderful romance, bringing back characters from her previous novels and tying up loose ends. She paints the intrigues of Venice with a textured brush. There are other stories to be revealed on her canvas, and I look forward to them! SENSUAL (Apr., 350 pp., $5.50)