LUCIANNA - Bertrice Small
A Perfect 10
The Silk Merchant's Daughters , Book 3
NAL - Trade Paperback 
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-41374-1
October 2013
Historical Romance

Florence, Italy and England - around 1490

Orianna Pietro d'Angelo has successfully managed to arrange marriages for her two eldest daughters with hefty dower portions provided by her husband Giovanni's silk trade, but now she is faced with her third daughter's future to secure.  Due to the recent downturn in the silk trades, Lucianna's dower portion is not as generous as her sisters', and she must marry a man who is willing to take less than the daughter of a silk merchant is worth.  Orianna finds the elderly Alfredo Allibatore, a wealthy bookseller who is besotted with her daughter, and surprisingly, Lucianna agrees to the match.  The girl is just sixteen, and Alfredo is quite an elderly man, but he wishes to marry Lucianna just for her beauty and her companionship.  Three years later, Lucianna is a very rich widow, inheriting Alfredo's house and enough coin to sustain her whether she marries again or not.  And her choice is not to marry ever again, a fact she informs her mother post haste.  Lucianna is quite happy with her independence and her wealth, and she needs no man to make her choices or to take her fortune.  Even so, her daughter's wishes do not keep Orianna from meddling and interfering in Lucianna's life, even to the point of sending potential suitors her way.

One day, all this changes when Sir Robert Minton, the Earl of Lisle and friend of King Henry VII of England, enters the bookstore looking for a gift for Henry's queen.  Inside, Robert meets Lucianna, as Alfredo's son, Noberto, is unable to bear waiting on customers, and it is Lucianna who has happily taken on that role, if only to keep herself busy.  Sir Robert asks Lucianna if she will allow him to escort her to Mass in the morning, but she refuses.  She does tell the dashing young earl that he might go to Mass, and if they happen to see each other she might consider allowing him to escort her home.

And thus, the romance between the Earl of Lisle and Lucianna is born.  Orianna is quite vocal in her views; her daughter must be careful of her reputation, but Lucianna's father has seen the deep attraction between Robert Minton and his daughter, and he arranges to send her to England to represent the Florence silk merchants, and thus increase their trade.

The story of LUCIANNA is told in the beautiful narrative and witty dialogue that Ms. Small is famous for.  This third book in The Silk Merchant's Daughters follows the stories of Lucianna's elder sisters in BIANCA (October 2012) and FRANCESCA (April 2013).  Next up is Giulia's story; but as Giulia wishes to be called Serena instead of her given name, she has won her way in the coming title, SERENA, due out October 2014. (I can't wait!)

Lucianna and Robert embark upon a romantic and dangerous love affair which takes us out of Italy and into England and the court of King Henry VII, complete with all its intrigue, and a bit of mystery and treachery.  Full of lush descriptions and sassy dialogue, Lucianna's story is the tale of an outspoken and independent young woman who falls in love with the man of her dreams in a time when this was not usually allowed.

LUCIANNA is no less than a Perfect 10!

Diana Risso