Jenny Kent is a foundling, a nobody. But she has a friend, one Bella Rossini, who’s been helping her along of late, and they’re the best of pals, even loaning Jenny her name so that Jenny can work at the fabulous Italian-themed Venetian Forum market in her Australian hometown…until they’re in a car crash, and the real Bella is killed, and everyone thinks that she is Bella…
Meanwhile, in Italy, Dante Rossini has a problem on his hands; his beloved grandfather is dying, and wants to see the grandchild he has never met, and wants to make amends for banishing his own son from the family all those years ago. Dante must go to Australia, and bring Bella home!
Emma Darcy is a prolific romance author, having sold over 60 million books, and producing around six new ones a year. Given that amazing level of output, we could reasonably expect that they’re not long, easy reads, and a little bit short on detail and quality. But that’s not the case here; while the story is as predictable as a sunrise, once you get the personae in place, Darcy gives us plenty of rich descriptions and moderately well-fleshed-out characters to make this an enjoyable short read.
Dante is predictably used to having any girlfriend he chooses, and paying them off to go away once he is bored with them, the old Grandfather Marco is, of course as perceptive as you’d expect him to be, and there’s another cousin in Marco’s Capri home who is as petty and vile as you’d expect her to be. The story progresses along about how you’d expect: Dante goes to Australia, meets this woman with his cousin’s name who admits that she’s not his cousin (and wants nothing to do with him), Dante uses threats to get her to go anyway, to make the old man happy in his last weeks, she goes, he buys her all new clothes and a makeover, and so it goes.
What really stuck out to me here, and made this story a notch better than expected, was Darcy’s rich descriptions of detail. Jenny is an artist, and when she draws portraits of Dante and cousin Lucia, the descriptions are so vivid that we can almost see the artist at work, the attention she put into the works, and Marco’s joy and appreciation of the result. His beautiful home, too, is wonderfully detailed, and sounds inviting and pleasant, without being too palatial.
The one thing that I found slightly off-putting here was the heat. I expected Dante and Jenny to end up in bed together, since they do have an adjoining suite, and it’s all kind of obvious how and when (and how that will lead to a final confrontation with Lucia, and how they come clean to Marco at the end), but I was struck with the abruptness of it; their first kisses happened almost as soon as the door was closed, while Jenny’s internal dialogue was still very much irritated with him at how she’d been so thoroughly maneuvered into this whole mess. It’s predictably hot, but is interrupted, and we spend the next ten or so pages with her torn between being angry with him for taking liberties, and angry with herself for going there with him, and then they’re abruptly taking things to the next–and much steamier–level. The sex is straightforward, intense, and quite hot, but I felt a little bit confused about how exactly they’d gotten to that point.
Overall, if this type of romance story is your thing, you’ll find this one a fun romp to read. It’s short and predictable, but pleasantly descriptive, with uncomplicated characters, and some nice steamy chemistry. I enjoyed it!