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The Botticelli Secret    by Marina Fiorato order for
Botticelli Secret
by Marina Fiorato
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

The year is 1482, and Luciana Vetra lives in Florence, Italy, where she struggles each day to survive. She is a young prostitute working the streets, and modeling for artists to make money. She came from Venice as a child, but grew up on her own, not knowing her parents.

One of Luciana's clients ask her to pose for artist Sandro Botticelli and she accepts. She is to be painted as Flora, the main character in his painting, Primavera. Luciana is suddenly dismissed without payment when she says something to upset Botticelli. Finding a miniature, unfinished copy of the painting, Luciana steals it on a whim.

Returning to her room, Luciana finds her friend dead - her throat has been slashed. She flees to one of her affluent clients, Bembo, only to discover that he too has been killed. Luciana realizes someone is looking for her, after her theft of the painting. She goes to her friend, Brother Guido della Forre, at his monastery and explains what is happening. Together, Luciana and Brother Guido travel to Pisa where Guido's uncle, Lord Sylvio, might be able to help them. A few days later, Lord Sylvio is poisoned and his son blames Guido.

Luciana and Guido learn that the seven city state magnates, supported by the Pope, want the unfinished painting and will kill to obtain it. Luciana and Guido travel the cities - Florence, Pisa, Naples, Venice, Rome, Genoa, and Milan - to escape the conspirators, all the while trying to break the secret code of the painting. In their travels they meet with Pope Sixtus IV and Leonardo da Vinci. The more Brother Guido learns, the more he is disillusioned with the church - and Luciana finally discovers her true identity.

The Botticelli Secret is a combination of romance, history, and adventure. At times the story line plods a little too slowly, and the profanities used by Luciana do not seem to fit the era, but overall it is an interesting read.

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