I was pleasantly surprised by this book. To be honest, with that silly title I wasn't expecting much. It is a well-written clean contemporary romance featuring an Italian-American man, Antonio, and his Italian father. The young woman who falls for Antonio's honest charms and not and just his good looks, Laura Beth, benefits from the relationship just as much Antonio does.
"He was a good man, with a big heart and so much talent she almost couldn't fathom it."
That Antonio is in line to inherit his father's millions, and that he lives the life of a millionaire, is not really that important of a factor in the couple's growing relationship. This is very refreshing in a genre seemingly flooded with women prostituting themselves to be with millionaires and billionaires.
We see the story from two points of view, Antonio's and Laura Beth's, with a third-person limited narration. But at times the author uses an omniscient narrator. Both characters are given interesting back stories, shaping their present selves into convincing people. For my tastes, I found the book spent too much time in the characters' minds, growing repetitive at times, and there was too little action taking place, but that is often the style with this genre.
The couple have known each other for years, and have always felt an attraction, but the timing of life's events has always been off. This makes their inevitable coupling seem more convincing than in those stories that want us to believe in a couple's happily-ever-after, after only a few weeks of knowing each other.
Part of the story takes place in the States, and part of the story happens in Italy's region of Tuscany. We even have a quick jaunt to Barcelona, Spain. The author gives us a satisfying finish. But there are several themes left unresolved after the abrupt ending of this novella-length book: Antonio's painting and his career, her career, where the couple will live... One more chapter would have completed the story of this modern Mr. Rochester/Jane Eyre nicely for me.
This book is published by Harlequin Romance. From the book's description:
From his assistant…to his muse!
Pregnant and broke, Laura Beth's only option is to take a job with brooding yet brilliant artist Antonio Bartulocci. He may be darkly handsome, but the fiery Italian proves to be a difficult boss!
Since his wife's betrayal, Antonio has been unable to pick up a brush. But captivated by Laura Beth's guileless beauty, he wonders if she could be the woman to unlock the talent he thought he'd lost forever… It's a miracle which reminds him of all that's now good in this life: Laura Beth!
Have you never been to the Siena area of Tuscany? Here is a 2 minute video introduction to the area's unique landscape.
Here are direct links to the book at Amazon.com as a Kindle e-book and paperback, and as part of a 3-e-book bundle at a special price:
This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.