Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould (Published by Puffin Books UK, April 7, 2011)
When Laura della Scalla was twelve years old, her father sent her to a convent to train as a nun, preferring to spend all the available money on a dowry for her older sister, Beatrice. Life in the convent was miserable and dull, but now, six years later, Laura is shocked to be told she will be leaving the convent and returning home. But nothing is as she hoped it would be. Beatrice has drowned under mysterious circumstances, and Laura must take her place and marry the man their father had arranged for Beatrice to marry. But when Laura meets her future husband, Vincenzo, she is desperate to escape and wishes she could return to the convent rather than marry a cruel, repulsive man who is old enough to be her grandfather.
Willing to do anything to escape her arranged marriage, Laura turns to the Segreta, a secret society of women. They are willing to help her for a price - she must share with them a secret about a rich and powerful member of Venetian society. Willing to do anything, Laura tells them a secret she had sworn never to share - and shortly after, Vincenzo is exiled from Venice after it is revealed that he is a spy, saving Laura from having to marry him. Laura is happy to be saved from a terrible marriage, but she begins to fear the power of the Segreta. And then Laura learns that her sister's death was not an accident, but murder. Laura is determined to solve her sister's murder, but at the same time she is falling in love with a young man who is far below her social class.
I really liked the premise of this book since I love romantic historical fiction with unusual settings. And overall, I did enjoy it for the most part, I loved the setting of Venice and the mystery and romance. But I did have a couple of small complaints. I guessed who the villain would turn out to be rather early on (not sure if it was really predictable or just a lucky guess) and just when everything seemed to be wrapping up nicely for this to be a standalone novel, the ending comes along and seems to leave it very open for a sequel. I've been disappointed lately by the lack of standalone novels and how almost all young adult books are part of a series. Hopefully if there is another book it will be about a different character since I really liked how this story ended for Laura and I'd hate to see it dragged out.