I enjoyed Celia Rees's Witch Child which was one of the earliest novels I blogged since I first began blogging reviews. I'm happy to report I enjoyed this one, as well.
It's set in renaissance Italy, and Sovay is the bastard daughter of a well-to-do Italian, who had an affair with a seamstress. He loved his daughter and left her a dowry, which her evil stepmother uses to buy not a husband, but a berth in a convent for her detested stepdaughter.
Sovay has other plans, however, and consults an astrologer who informs her she will find her true love despite events. As extra insurance, she buys a charm which is supposed to heat up(!) when her true love shows up. I have to say I felt that the charm was a bit of a waste of time. I admit a curiosity as to why the author put it in there, because for me, it really contributed nothing to the story which would have worked better without it.
Nevertheless, Sovay, something of an artist, attends the convent and starts learning the rules. There are mean rich girls there who bully her - again that's a trope that could have been omitted, but once Sovay's art is discovered, she's taken out of normal convent life and assigned as an initiate into the art department - which is run by a renowned female artist, inventor of the prized and secret 'Passion Blue' pigment, and who helps fill the convent coffers with commissions for her art. Sovay begins learning much, but is not willing to give up her pursuit of true love, and forms an attachment to a boy who is working on restoring a mural at the convent.
Needless to say, things do not pan out the way Sovay was hoping for or expecting, but they do pan out and the story reaches a satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed it very much and will probably seek other work by this author since she continues to bat a thousand with me. I commend this as a worthy read.