4 out of 4 stars
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Belle Ami has done it again! The second book in her Out of Time Thriller Series, The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio, definitely held its own. It was recommended to read the first book, The Girl Who Knew DaVinci prior to reading this one, which I did; however, I don't believe it was necessary to understand the plot of this story. Ami seamlessly blended enough of the characters' back stories so that this book would stand on its own.
Angela Renatus, an art historian, has recently discovered an unusual talent, or perhaps it is a curse. She finds herself reliving scenes from previous lives of major artists and their lovers. Angela uses these insights to locate missing paintings from some of the Renaissance masters while giving the readers a solid dose of art history. While the insights are valuable, the toll it takes on Angela, both physically and emotionally, may make you wonder if it's worth it. Her fiancé, Alex Caine, a former Navy Seal that hires out as an art detective, is now also being pulled into these visions.
The story begins with Angela witnessing a scene that forever alters the course of Caravaggios's life. Switching to the present, Angela and Alex begin a globe-trotting adventure to introduce each other to their respective parents, which brings about a whole new set of complications: lies, omissions, and maybe even a dead parent returning from the grave. In the midst of all of this, the couple is hired by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, to recover Caravaggio's famous Nativity painting. This painting is considered to be one of the great art heists of all time and is rumored to be in the hands of the Maffia. There are so many layers built into this story that you will wonder throughout if the couple will survive this case intact.
One of the things I love about Belle Ami's stories are the descriptions. I find myself looking up the paintings and artists, researching recipes, and adding places to visit to my list because of how accurately she describes things. Angela's love for food often makes my mouth water, sending me to the kitchen, and then off to the grocery store when nothing I have will match the current craving. As for things I don't like about the book, there was really only one. It felt like the mystery component was a bit too formulaic. It appeared that Angela and Alex were led from clue to clue without a lot of investigating needed. Please note that this is being really picky as the novel was thoroughly enjoyable!
I would rate The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio four out of four stars. The novel appears to be professionally edited as only a couple of errors were found. As Belle Ami writes international espionage stories with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, her writing invites a broad range of readers to enjoy her books from those that crave a bit of mystery and suspense to romantic thrillers, time-travel, and art historians. It is worth noting that the profanity and mildly erotic sexual scenes do make this a good read for more mature readers.
The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio
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