A very moving story
Kris Bryant is one of my go-to lesfic authors so I was excited to see that the audiobook version of her latest novel was released so quickly. I am also happy with the choice of narrator.
Peri Logan is a private investigator with a very personal first case. When her great-grandmother dies, she leaves her a photo locket and a note that just says “find her”. Her search takes her to a little town in Italy where she meets Camila Barnes, an enigmatic and beautiful woman who seems to know more than she reveals. Camila is suspicious of Peri’s assignment to find Camila’s great-grandmother so she sends her on a wild goose chase all over town. But after some truths are revealed both women discover that they are part of something greater than they expected…
This novel is a mix of enemies to lovers, historical fiction, star-crossed lovers, sleuth work, and traditional romance. But behind all these labels there are two compelling and emotional love stories.
I have to admit that I wasn’t much invested in the beginning of the story when Peri and Camila first met. The subplot surrounding Peri’s search for the mysterious woman and Camila’s intentional misleading of the investigation irritated me. I understand the reasons why the author chose that plot but it didn’t appeal to me that much.
However, after that first part of the book is out of the way, that’s where the story spreads its wings and takes the reader to a richer range of emotions and a completely different mood. The past and present intertwine in the narrative, showing contradictory feelings and propelling the reader to an emotional roller-coaster. Ms. Bryant cleverly mixes the historical and the contemporary romance very well, balancing the contrasting moods of each story and finding a common ground.
Lately, we’ve seen a trend of queer historical romances with happily ever afters. I understand the reasoning behind them, the fact that the denial of happy long-term LGBTQ+ relationships in the past is a form of queer erasure from history. I enjoy HEAs in historical fiction a lot, but we would all be in denial too if we wouldn’t admit that most queer relationships in the last century (and before) were star-crossed. It’s tragic and sad but also shows the new generations the freedom that many of us (unfortunately not all) can enjoy. This is what this book is all about. I loved that message even if it broke my heart a little.
The setting of the novel in a little town in Italy couldn’t be better. A story about family ties goes very well in a country where family is paramount. The sensuality of food and wine is also a great part of the culture and Ms. Bryant captured that very well.
For those readers who enjoy epilogues, this book has two. I’m not particularly a hard-core fan of epilogues but I think that both of them helped to wrap up the story properly.
The audiobook was narrated by Melissa Sternenberg who did a very good job. Her voices are distinct and very well done, especially the older characters. Her Italian is acceptable too. The book is very emotional and Ms. Sternenberg performed those feelings perfectly. A very moving story. 4.5 stars.
Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins