Socialite Bellina Mazzanti Forde was the ultimate party girl—until she disappeared with Byron Brantley five years ago. Determined to find his brother, Jonathan Brantley has tracked Lina to a café in Naples and demands answers. Certain she’s hiding something, Jonathan vows not to let Lina out of his sight until she agrees to help him, even if it takes all night. Though he doesn’t trust her, he can’t deny that he wants her—has always wanted her…
Happy in her new, simpler life, Lina didn’t want to be found. Now that the past has caught up with her in the form of the sexy tycoon, she’s torn between exploring the passion he arouses in her, and facing the secrets that caused her to flee New York. The tension between them soon leads to a scorching affair, one they both know can’t last. But when their search for Byron finds them tangling with the mob, Jon and Lina learn they have no one to trust but each other.
Money can’t buy happiness and being rich doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to live in peace and harmony. And no matter how wealthy one becomes, the presence of trust in any relationship far outweighs the presence of financial resources. These factors are at the heart of this story of hope lost, love gained, and the pain of self-discovery.
It is also the story of two people–one is the heroine of the story and one is the shadowy lover/friend who was her companion when both of them chose to exit their pampered lifestyle and to drop out of sight of family and friends. For five years they had been sought to no avail. After three years the friends went their separate ways and it is at this point that Jon, Byron’s brother, finds Lina at her neighborhood cafe in Naples, Italy.
This is a rather slow-moving novel but it is compelling none the less. There is that sense from the very beginning that something is going one that still smacks of intrigue. Lina, as she is now called, is reluctant to trust Jon. Her last five years are something she really doesn’t want to share while at the same time she doesn’t want to drive Jon away. She is happy where she is. Can she really allow any love affair between them when she has no intention of resuming her lifestyle in the United States?
This novel also explores some of the criminal factions that can reach into someone’s life even when they innocently pique the interest of a crime organization and the far reaching effects of that interest. It is a story of the pain of discovery when the Brantley family must face the truths about their own life, the destructive factors that have impacted both their sons, and the reality of the damage they must all life with. Without giving anything away, this story is raw in many ways and brings in strands of others’ lives whose presence in the story don’t make sense at first but who are eventually an important part of the resolution.
This is one of several Connelly works I have read and reviewed. I first encountered one of her novels with a book she wrote for the Tempt the Cougar series for Ellora’s Cave. This is a more complicated story but it still bears the indelible mark of her writing expertise. It is a novel that begins in one locality and ends up quite differently than the reader may expect. It is a terrific read and one that I think romance fans will thoroughly enjoy.
I give it a rating of 4 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.