Author: Tracy MacNish
Genre: Georgian Venice and London
Series: third in a series
Pages: 352 (but it felt like 500)
Three years ago, Kieran Mullen was a carefree, confident beauty. One fateful night, everything changed, and she became solitary and aloof, reluctant to leave her London home even when her brother, Rogan, insists she accompany him on holiday to Venice. There, amid the wild revelries of Carnivale, Kieran is attacked by a masked villain and rescued by a charismatic stranger who offers her the one thing that might free her from her haunting past: revenge…Matteo de Gama is a study in contradiction – a gambler and a philosopher, a reckless libertine and a most unlikely saviour. When he pulls Kieran from a canal’s watery depths and learns her secrets, he resolves to help her exact justice. But soon he has another mission in mind – to release the unmistakable fire buried beneath her icy beauty, and teach her the bliss that comes with trusting in her own desires, and in their fierce, abiding love…
Content warnings: flashback to a horrific night
Ramblings: This was a hard one to grade. The lovely prose made this a step above most of the pedestrian stuff offered on the historical romance aisle but other aspects of the writing bogged down the reading for me.
When I first started this, I thought I was really going to like it. It’s Georgian. Yay! Had a heroine with a past. Woo hoo! Revenge! Love! I can eat all that up and come back for seconds.
The author’s writing had an old skool flava to it. Some might call it lush. Others would call it wordy and flowery. The author also showed a wearying desposition for repetition. It seemed like a page did not go by without a sentence on how the heroine has become “cold” because of what happened. A scene did not go by without a description on how gorgeous either the hero or heroine was at any given moment. I. got. it. The heroine was an icicle. A bloody gorgeous icicle. And Matteo was a bloody gorgeous adonis. Zzzzz.
Combine all this with the plodding pace of the book and it took me twice the time that it normally takes to read a historical romance. And I really had to force myself to finish this book just for closure.
The best parts of the book were the depictions of the hero and the villain. The villain seemed totally evil at the start of the story but I appreciated that he was more nuanced than that. Matteo was delicious. He was a self-made man: a playwright, a libertine, an artist, a musician, and a gambler. He spoke the language of the seducer very well. Example:
He reached out, skimmed her jaw with the back of a single finger. “Know this about me, for you are a lovely girl and you deserve to know who stands in your cabin this evening. Let me tell you what I am capable of: I could make you my mission. I could turn you into the focus of my entire existence, pursue you in a seduction to which you would have no defense. I could seduce you into my life, consume you with my world, and have you willing in my bed. I could possess you. I could play you like the cello, make you feel things you never dreamed possible. I could bring you pleasure beyond your imagining, and in doing so, I would enslave you. You would lick the floor in front of me, if I asked you to. You would do anything for me. And you would be mine, for as long as the affair lasted.”
His eyes changed. They grew distant, regretful. He looked as though he were turned inward, trying to figure out when he’d become this man whom he spoke of with such familiarity. “And when I lost interest in you, I would walk away.”
Unfortunately, the good points could not outweigh the bad for me no matter how much I wanted it to. The delish Matteo was paired up with quite the whiny heroine. He deserved better.
So did I.