There was not one thing I liked about this book. Not one thing. Please keep this in mind as you read this review because I have nothing good to say about The Stargazer, so I thought I’d warn you right up front. It’s got a pretty cover and a lovely title and I was really looking forward to reading it. But I had trouble right from page one, and things never got any better.
Bianca Salva, daughter of a renowned physician, wishes to also practice medicine but is restricted in her endeavors by the conventions of the day, which frown on young women working in this field. Ian Foscari is a handsome count who has been abused by love and has vowed never to love again. They meet over the body of a murdered courtesan. Bianca believes Ian guilty of the murder because the weapon used was a dagger with his family’s crest on it. Ian believes Bianca is the murderess because she is standing over the body with the dagger in her hand.
Believing Bianca is truly guilty of the murder, instead of calling a magistrate, he takes her to his palace where he announces to one and all that she is his fiancée. He’s been hounded by his relatives to take a wife, and he sees this as an opportunity to get his family off his back. Bianca goes with him and agrees to the plan so she can dissect the corpse and try to discover who really killed the woman. Ian gives Bianca a week to either come up with the real killer or he will turn her in, thus ridding himself of a murderess and a fiancée (how being engaged to a murderess for a week would keep his relatives at bay in two weeks is something I never figured out).
So the investigation begins, during which time the reader is subjected to many occasions of skanky villain sex, skanky villain conversations, and skanky villains doing skanky things. Also during this week, Bianca and Ian have sex. Now remember, he truly believes she is a murderess, yet he has sex with her at the drop of a hat. And Bianca gives her virginity to Ian in the name of “scientific research.” Oh, pul-eeze. Can’t they ever do it because they want to do it? Does it always have to be couched in that same/lame excuse? At any rate, the story progresses, we meet all Ian’s male relatives, we follow Bianca’s inane line of reasoning in trying to conduct the murder investigation, and eventually discover who the guilty party is, even though we knew all along.
The problems I had with this book are too numerous to count, so I’ll just rattle them off, and you can pick and choose.
- This book is called The Stargazer. Why? I have no idea.
- No date or place is given at the start of the story to tell the reader where or when they are in time. If I hadn’t read the back-cover blurb, I would have had no way of knowing I was in Renaissance Venice.
- Historical innacuries abound (among them, words such as chit, cahoots, and sex were not used in 16th Century Venice).
- Point-of-view is so muddled, I didn’t know whose head I was in half the time; point-of-view switched back-and-forth on the same page several times, sometimes even in the same paragraph.
- Although Ian praises Bianca for her brilliant mind, she is actually dumb as a rock and I got tired very quickly of her feisty little utterances such as: “Santa Catarina’s head!” “Santa Graziella’s tongue!” “Santa Olivia’s ring finger!” “Santa Appollonia’s teeth!” “S’blood!” “S’balls!” Give me a break – these contrived epithets were irritating beyond belief.
- Throw in a little purple prose and dialogue such as, “Nor am I a brainless toddler, fresh from his mother’s teat,” and, “Without that gunpowder we are sunk. Everything will be ruined! We must speak about this. Now,” and you have one frustrated reader.
This author’s style reminds me very much of another author whose writing I do not care for, so my dislike of this book is obviously a matter of personal taste. If your taste differs from mine, then The Stargazer might work for you.
The Stargazer is a hardcover book that was originally priced at $22 (but has for some “mysterious” reason, been reduced to $18). The publisher even has a note in the front of book praising it and promoting the entire series of six books (Ian’s male relatives are all blatantly paraded out in preparation for their own stories). I cannot for the life of me figure out why a book such as this has been given the royal treatment when I have read far better books (see our Desert Island Keepers) in paperback costing $5.99 written by authors who’ve worked for years and years and have not yet been offered a hardcover contract. If you decide to read The Stargazer, please add your comments to the message board, because, Santa Tiffiny’s toenail clippings!, I’m truly at a loss here.