2 out of 4 stars
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For over a month before I picked up a copy, I had heard nothing but good things about Belle Ami’s latest thriller The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci. I have always enjoyed books that can do a good job of combining thrilling plot twists, passionate romance, and accurate historical information. The fact that this book promised all this and more made me feel like it would be a great fit for me to read. Unfortunately, I was left feeling rather disappointed in how it was executed.
In this book, Angela Renatus is an art historian working as an intern with a sleazy boss at the prestigious Getty Museum. Despite this being a dream job for her and helping her to find a place in the art world, Angela finds that it is less of a dream and more of a nightmare. Her boss, Dr. Alberto Scordato, is both an overbearing tyrant and seemingly professional sleaze. He takes every opportunity he can to assert his dominance over Angela, both as her boss and as a man. To make matters worse, Angela has been having an almost impossible time sleeping due to recurring dreams of Leonardo da Vinci, Giuliano de Medici, and Fioretta Gorini.
Also playing a major part in the story is detective Alex Caine, who is searching for a missing painting by Leonardo da Vinci to restore it back to the art world. He first meets Angela as she sits in front of a painting of Giuliano in the museum – an event that Angela had no recollection of later. He then meets her as the art historian that he has come to the Getty to meet with and hopefully persuade to help him find the painting.
Together, Alex and Angela set off on a whirlwind journey to find this missing da Vinci portrait through the beautiful scenery of Paris, Florence, Rome and the Chianti hills. Angela’s dreams become more life-like and danger is never more than one step behind them as they follow the clues that should lead them to the painting’s hidden location.
I must admit that I never found myself drawn into this story like I had expected when first hearing about it. I knew before I ever began that it would combine elements of the supernatural with romance and mystery so that was never a surprise to me like I saw it was to some others. However, I did find myself surprised by the number of times one of the bad guys has a rape fantasy he wants to act out and it turned what could have been a well-written villain into someone I didn’t even enjoy enough to not like them. I simply found myself reading over parts of it and feeling it was becoming a bit ridiculous and found myself turned away by several grammar errors. After reading the entire novel, I would have to rate it with 2 out of 4 stars.
At times in the novel, I found myself muttering that it was ridiculous. One example of this is on one of the meetings between Alex and Angela at the painting of Medici in the museum. At this point, Alex is felt drawn to protect Angela due to a “sudden flash of lightning over the painting” and then later in the same encounter there is another “flash of light, like a lightning bolt” that shoots out of the painting and into them. Another example of where I thought it went a little too far is that Scordato’s main plan of getting information out of Angela about where the painting can be found is a healthy dose of truth serum.
I found several instances where there were either missing quotation marks before someone starts speaking or quotation marks in the middle of the same character speaking in the same paragraph. Also, I found a couple of cases where phrases are repeated by characters, almost verbatim. One example of this is Angela saying that being a “private art detective must pay well” and Alex inviting her to his home in the Chianti hills and saying, “besides, I need to check in with my manager on how the grape harvest is coming along”.
All in all, I would have rated this book with 3 stars if it had been written and edited better. The romance scenes were steamy and passionate and the descriptions of all the lovely places they visited made me want to follow in their footsteps and travel to Italy. There was also the thrilling race to find the portrait and end what has become a cycle of disappointment and death once and for all. I would not have rated it a perfect score unless the villain’s fantasies had changed. However, due to the grammar mistakes and often repeated phrases that pulled me from the story, my rating had to go down to just 2 stars.
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci
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