I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.
What a fabulous follow-up novel to His Last Duchess. In The Courtesan's Lover, Kimm has written a even more exquisite novel.
While this book is connected to His Last Duchess, it's not exactly a sequel, so it can be read as a stand-alone. In His Last Duchess, Francesca Felizzi was mistress to the Duke of Ferrara, and at the end of that book, Francesca scoops up her twin daughters and moves to Napoli. That is where we find her in The Courtesan's Lover. This is her story.
Despite the fact that the main character is a courtesan, the writing is not tawdry at all. There is just enough written that you know what's going on without every single detail. Working her way up the Courtesan ladder, Francesca has three clients that she sees regularly, and everything is going fine, until an encounter with a young man name Gianni. Suddenly, Francesca is shaken, and an encounter with another man puts her over the edge. All of a sudden, she is questioning what she is doing with her life.
When I saw the number of pages The Courtesan's Lover was, I thought this was going to be a stuffy historical fiction novel with an abundance of flowery detail, but it was none of that. It read so fast, that I finished it in only a few days. Even though one night I wasn't feeling so good, I couldn't put my nook down to stop reading. I was so engrossed. The characters, even the villainous ones, were given an individual voice, and I loved the way it was done.
Francesca was an incredibly smart, savvy woman, and I was rooting for her through the whole book. Oh, and Gianni? I kind of hope that Kimm might write what happens to him in a future book. He was so cute and chivalrous, that I wanted to squish him.