This book is a tough one to review. It’s well written and I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. It’s been a while since I read a romance novel and I’ve been looking for something to get me back into them. I’ve been longing for a passionate read. This book turned out to be just the thing to get me excited about reading again, but ultimately it let me down.
To start I will say that I feel that this book was a mixture between a teen romance and an adult romance. Parts were extremely juvenile and the outcome would probably appeal more to a younger reader. But the middle was heavy with emotion and passion and definitely a more mature romance.
I liked Lexie, the heroine. She and I have a lot in common that I didn’t see coming based on the description of the book. Just like her I was an Art History major in college and went to study abroad in Italy. I’ve been to many of the places and seen nearly all the works of art in the book. I work in museums teaching art to children, as she does in the book. So for me, the descriptions of Italy and art were a trip down memory lane and fun to read. In addition to that, Lexie was bold and impulsive, smart, funny, with good taste in men. However, she’s a bit young for me. She’s 20 (I’m 35) and the dialog between her and her friends was immature and boring for me.
There were two male heroes in this book. Trent, her stepbrother who she has sex with early on in the book, and Alessandro, a priest she meets after confessing the sinful sex at a church in Italy. This is where I developed the love hate relationship with this book.Lexie’s relationship with Trent is based on years of comfort. They trust each other. They are each others confidants. There is clearly something more between them than just friends/stepbrother/stepsister relationship. Her relationship with Alessandro is different. They are friends, because that is all that is allowed, but there is an immediate attraction between them. He builds up Lexie’s confidence, shows her her own potential, offers her an ear when she needs it, gives her life a spark, excitement, and a little adventure.
Lexie’s relationship with Trent for me was cute and cuddly. It was also juvenile. It centered around video games and him singing silly love songs to her. It seemed to me that they were more comfortable with each other than anything. Trent was a wrestler and musician. Supposedly he was intelligent too, but other than a tattoo portraying that, there was really no indication of that other than that the author didn’t make him sound stupid. He was barely in the book. Their primary method of communication was text message and perhaps if we had gotten to know them before the book began, that would have been enough. But as it was, I never had the chance to really know Trent.
Alessandro was the total opposite of Trent. Quite, contemplative, brooding but trying to be at peace. He was intelligent and we got to experience that first hand through his many lengthy conversations with Lexie. He was focused and had a goal. He was mature and sexy. As mentioned earlier, he was good for Lexie in so many ways. They established a real bond, a real connection.
Alessandro was in much more of the book than Trent. In fact, it mostly focused on him and Trent was kind of an afterthought. Lexie spent most of her time trying to get over Trent. Trent is evasive and doesn’t tell her how he feels, even when she’d giving him a chance. I felt their relationship lacked passion and I didn’t really see them being actually “in love”. I believe they loved each other but I never felt they were in love. Meanwhile, Alessandro questions his choices with her, wonders if becoming a priest is the path he should take. He struggles with his feeling and ultimately professes his love, which turns into the beginnings of a scorching love scene between them.
SPOILER – Don’t read past here if you don’t want to know who she ends up with.
You can imagine my surprise when Lexie turns Alessandro down and chooses Trent. Honestly, I was shocked. I was so convinced she was going to choose Alessandro. Why spend so much time developing him and their relationship and so much time ignoring Trent? I felt let down. I felt sad for Alessandro who I had totally fallen in love with. The author spent so much time developing their relationship and he made such difficult decisions. It was so hard for him to admit the truth. The sexual tension between them was palpable and it lead up to this intense, passionate moment between them and then….nothing. I wanted him with her so bad and I felt so let down.
Trent was a text message character for the most part. There was nothing pulling me to him. Their relationship was ridiculous. While the stepbrother/stepsister thing didn’t bother me, it was too unlikely they would actually choose to be together and that their family would be ok with it (especially in the face of all that Alessandro made Lexie feel). Beyond that, the end was also rushed. All of the sudden she is leaving Italy, they are getting married, they tell their parents and in 5 minutes they are ok with it. She never says goodbye to Alessandro in person. Their last correspondence is an email and again, I am let down. I am sad for them that they lost something so special. Honestly, if not for the “priest” issue I think he and Lexi would have hooked up pretty fast and she would have forgotten all about Trent in the time she spent in Italy with Alessandro.
All that said, Lexie was too immature to handle the responsibility of Alessandro giving up everything for her. However, that same immaturity makes me question whether she was really capable of choosing to marry her stepbrother with a full understanding of the societal implications. I wish the book had gone in a different direction. I wish she had bloomed a bit more and grown into a love with Alessandro who was the person who did that for her much more so than Trent. I believe Lexie chose comfort over what could have been a true, undying love, full of growth and passion. After all she had with Alessandro she went back to the US to live in her childhood home, back to playing video games with her stepbrother and gossiping with her juvenile friends. I feel all the maturity she gained in Italy was lost and I don’t believe a girl who longs for adventure and exposure to the world would be so ok with that. I don’t believe her and Trent’s love is a lasting love. I could have believed that with Alessandro.
I know Alessandro’s story is continued in the next book. I adored him so much that I will probably read it. My heart is aching for him now because I feel he was left alone, his love unrequited. Perhaps he will realize Lexie wasn’t really the one for him in the next book. Either way, this book left me dissatisfied. Perhaps if I were younger still the book would appeal to me in a different way. I wish I could read this exact story of Alessandro & Lexie with a different outcome.
I give this book 2 stars for good writing and a character I couldn’t get enough of. But it looses 3 stars for the disappointing ending that is not believable to me. I honestly still can’t believe it went in that direction.