The Foscari clan returns, but now the scene shifts from Venice to London in Jaffe’s second Renaissance period piece, a follow-up to The Stargazer (1999). That previous historical led Count Ian Foscari onto the page and glittered with Venetian rhinestone dialogue while dishing up a gifted heroine who cut up a woman's corpse and drew the first book on female anatomy. This time, our hero is Ian's brother, Crispin Foscari, known as the Earl of S(c)andal, a master of disguise and spy extraordinare. On page one, Crispin outwits two pursuers by buying a basket of eels, hoisting it onto his shoulder, and hustling off. On page two, he kills four men without breaking a sweat or taking a single scratch. On page three, he meets Queen Elizabeth, who has been following him about incognito and warns that his life is in danger. Chapter two begins with Botticellian beauty Sophie Champion trying to find the murderer of her godfather, Lord Grosgrain, by disguising herself as a man and sneaking into the Unicorn, London's most hoity-toity, all-male gambling club, where she quickly stumbles onto a second corpse. After many similarly improbable adventures, Crispin and Sophie marry at last under “a cloud of a thousand live pure-white doves whose wings had been studded with diamonds.” Jaffe may have a Ph.D. in comparative literature of the Renaissance, but her cartoon characters and silly plots have more in common with such heavy-breathing historicals of the ’40s and ’50s such as Forever Amber and The Foxes of Harrow.
Enough folderol to make a cat laugh.