Casanova's Secret Wife by Barbara Lynn-Davis: Excerpt & Giveaway

Casanova's Secret Wife by Barbara Lynn-Davis

Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Kensington Books
eBook & Paperback; 304 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Biographical

Set in eighteenth-century Venice and based on an actual account by Giacomo Casanova—here is a lush tale of desire and risk.

Caterina Capreta was an innocent girl of fourteen when she caught the attention of the world’s most infamous chronicler of seduction: Giacomo Casanova. Intoxicated by a fierce love, she wed Casanova in secret. But his shocking betrayal inspired her to commit an act that would mark her forever …

Now twenty years later on the island of Murano, the woman in possession of Caterina’s most devastating secret has appeared with a request she cannot refuse: to take in a noble-born girl whose scandalous love affair resembles her own. But the girl’s presence stirs up unwelcome memories of Caterina’s turbulent past. Tested like never before, she reveals the story of the man she will never forget.

Bringing to life a fascinating chapter in the history of Venice, Casanova’s Secret Wife is a tour de force that charts one woman’s journey through love and loss to redemption.

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Praise for Casanova's Secret Wife

“Lynn-Davis admirably incorporates historical detail into this page-turning drama of mystery, love, and loss….Yet the standout is her depiction of Casanova – Lynn-Davis clearly enjoys crafting a real-life character who stands apart from the legend, making him the book’s most enduring character.” - Publishers Weekly

“Lynn-Davis debuts with a fascinating story based on the notorious lover Giacomo Casanova’s writings. With Venice as the romantic backdrop and young love as its focus, this stunning tale of passion, betrayal and redemption is a richly woven tapestry of Casanova’s early life. By bringing little known history to life, Lynn-Davis delivers an unforgettable love story, centering not only on Casanova, but two women who share the beauty of love and the pain of loss; one will find salvation and the other true happiness.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“Full of passion and rich historical detail . . . an enthralling read, impossible to put down.” --Phyllis T. Smith, bestselling author

“This is Venice beneath the mask: A dark and fascinating love story hiding in the shadows of the golden city.” --Marina Fiorato, bestselling author of The Glassblower of Murano

“Seductive and unforgettable” –Harmony Verna, author of Daughter of Australia

“Breathtaking, beautiful . . . will mesmerize readers." –Rosanna Chiofalo, author of Stella Mia

Excerpt from Chapter 12

“Don’t take me home yet—please.” I sighed, leaning my head against his shoulder as we left the theater. There were maybe two hours left until dawn, I judged. Campo San Samuele was still alive with lantern lights and throngs of theatergoers, but soon enough, it would be just us beneath a starry sky.

“Shall we take a walk?” he suggested, kissing me on the temple. I giggled, feeling playful and more content than I ever had before. This, I guessed, was love.

“I will take you on a tour,” he announced, giving me a deep, sweeping bow in his black cloak. He tied on his beaked mask again. “Something like the Grand Tour of Europe, only maybe not as grand. It will be a secret tour of this part of Venice.”

“Secret?” I was intrigued.

“Secret,” he responded, taking my hand and steering us to a narrow street that led out of the square.

The reassuring lamplights and noises of the crowd soon faded behind us. At the end of this street he turned down another, this one even more cramped and dark. Every house was locked and shuttered. Giacomo kept us walking as quickly as cats. “Just a little farther,” he called softly over his shoulder. I had paused to look behind, fearing some stranger with a knife.

Giacomo stopped suddenly and I practically fell into him, laughing at my clumsiness. “Shh.” He began laughing, too. “We’ll wake the whole neighborhood.”

He took a powder tinderbox out of his pocket and knelt down. I could hear the fast scraping of steel on flint, and soon saw sparks. He lit a small candle. When he stood and held it above our heads, I saw we were in front of a grated iron entrance door. Everything smelled damp, as if no one had opened the door in a long time.

“Where are we?” I asked. Looking higher up, I saw a plain brick-and-stucco house. Nothing like my own splendid home, which was covered in porphyry, rose and green marble brought to Venice from as far away as Egypt.

“This is where I was born,” announced Giacomo.

“Oh!” I made an effort to sound admiring.

I heard him take a long breath, perhaps steadying himself. “My mother was the only child of a shoemaker. My father—an actor—was performing with his troupe at Teatro San Samuele. He caught sight of her here, sixteen and a perfect beauty, and fell in love. Nine months later, I was born.”

He blew out the candle and I stood very still, listening. I could make out his black cloak, the white mask he now untied from his face. His eyes were glittering—a gambler’s eyes. Taking a gamble he could be honest with me.

“I lived here until I was eight years old,” he continued. “I was a pitiful child, with a disease that baffled everyone. I bled profusely from my nose. As a result, I was extremely weak. I had no appetite, was unable to apply myself to anything, and looked like an idiot.”

“I do not believe it,” I interjected. “That sounds nothing like you.”

“All true,” he insisted, keeping his usual straight face. “I was cured by a witch.”

“Giacomo!” I protested, incredulous.

“Well—that part might not be true. I can’t be sure. All I know is, my grandmother—whose pet I was—took me to a witch to cure me. This witch lived in a hovel on Murano. She locked me in a chest, recited spells over me, sang, wept, and thumped on the lid. I had no idea what was going on but was too stupid to be afraid. Somehow this encounter cured me. I bled less and less. Within the month, my wits improved and I finally learned to read.”

“Do you think it was a miracle?” I asked, becoming excited.

“I have no belief in miracles, my angel. The greatest power God gives us is reason.”

“Oh,” I agreed, feeling disappointed. “Well—miracle or not, che consolazione, that it all ended well.”

“Ah—almost,” he said, taking the back of my hand to his mouth and kissing it softly. “My father died six weeks later. A sudden abscess in the brain.”

“Oh, Giacomo!” I threw my arms around him. He bent his head over mine, and I kissed his cheeks. I found myself crying for him, my tears eventually mingling with his. I knew about grief, having comforted my mother.

“And your mother—was she forced to remarry?” I asked, when he had collected himself.

“My mother was left a widow at twenty-five, with six children. She had to make a living.” He sounded bitter, but I couldn’t tell if he was angry at her, or only the circumstances. “She became an actress and—still young and marvelously beautiful—was in high demand. Within the year, she left for Saint Petersburg, and then accepted a lifetime engagement in Dresden.”

“Who raised you, then?” I asked, feeling anxious for him.

“My grandmother, Marzia. Every few years my mother would return to Venice and make a dazzling appearance, but my grandmother was the one who took care of me. She died ten years ago. And when that happened, my mother sold the house and everything in it. By then I was eighteen years old—a grown man—but I took it all quite badly. I went completely to the dogs. I wasn’t ready to lose my home, and go to live in a boardinghouse.”

“Good God,” I said, understanding these were the misfortunes—at least some of them—Giacomo had alluded to in my father’s study.

We began walking back toward the square in slow silence. Giacomo had wanted to show me his home, but it had made him pensive, and sad. I took his hand to comfort him.
After a few minutes, we passed the east end of the church of San Samuele. “And here”—Giacomo gestured broadly, becoming cheerful again—“is the site of my fine—if short-lived—career as a preacher!”

“No!” I retorted.

“Yes, my angel,” he responded, making a mock blessing over me. “I was destined to be the greatest preacher of the century. Or so my mother and grandmother believed, when—at only fifteen years old, and studying ecclesiastical law in Padua—I was given the honor of delivering a sermon right here on the pulpit.”

He spied a pile of empty vegetable crates outside a shuttered shop, grabbed one, set it down, and stepped on top with a flourish. It could not support his weight for more than a moment, and he quickly leapt off. I was laughing merrily: He was ridiculous.

“Unfortunately, before this most important debut, I enjoyed myself with a huge meal and lots of wine. I stood up in front of everyone in church, went blank, and—whether in fright or to save myself further humiliation—I fainted.”

“Oh, my!” was all I could say, losing myself in laughter. “I could have told you myself you are not fit for an ecclesiastical career!”

“You are very intelligent, Caterina,” he said. “I wish I were half as observant about myself. I wasted four more years chasing after a position in the Church. But it was not suited to my temperament.”

At this, he grabbed me and pinched my behind. I pretended to slap him in outrage. He responded by catching my hand in the air and kissing my palm. Our lovemaking becoming real, he pressed me against the curved apse wall of the church. The sky had become cloudy, with only a few stars glimmering above. He deluged my neck and bosom with kisses, to which I surrendered with the sweetest moans.

“Aren’t you happy you gave up the life of a priest?” I teased, pulling him even closer by the top of his breeches.

“Extremely,” he breathed, pressing against me with a moaning gasp. “A man cannot change who he is.”

About the Author

Barbara Lynn-Davis graduated from Brown University with a degree in art history. She then worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and later spent a year there while completing her Ph.D. in Renaissance art at Princeton University.

She currently teaches art history and writing at Wellesley College, and lives outside Boston with her family.

For more information please visit Barbara Lynn-Davis' website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, July 26
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 27
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, July 28
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 31
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 1
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, August 2
Review & Guest Post at Books of All Kinds

Thursday, August 3
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, August 4
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, August 7
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, August 8
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Wednesday, August 9
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Thursday, August 10
Spotlight at Queen Bee Books

Friday, August 11
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Monday, August 14
Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life

Tuesday, August 15
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, August 16
Guest Post at Creating Herstory

Thursday, August 17
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Friday, August 18
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at Ms. Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company

Monday, August 21
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Tuesday, August 22
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Jorie Loves a Story


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Casanova's Secret Wife! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

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