The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.
The setting for the novel is 15th century Florence. The books protagonist Alessandra is the main focus of the story and is a very engaging character. Alessandra has a great love for drawing and painting and is very talented. Alessandra's father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the walls of the chapel in the family's Florentine palazzo. Alessandra becomes besotted with the painters artistic abilities.
Alessandra then undergoes an arranged marriage to Savanarola who is an older man.Savanarola and Alessandra's brother Thomaso share a secret and Alessandra has no knowledge of this until after her wedding. Her true real love is the painter and as the story progress's she realises her concern for the painter has turned to love. Alessandra's green snake tattoo is also another one of the mysteries in the novel and the ending brings a solution to this.
Great characterisation in the novel. I also read Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant last year and loved it.