3 out of 4 stars
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The Girl Who Knew Da Vince by Belle Ami is a mixture of intrigue, the paranormal, and romance. It has war heroes, Nazis, villains, art thieves, and star-crossed lovers.
The Cast of Characters
Angela: The naïve heroine. She is doing an internship at the prestigious Getty Museum. While continually having to fend off her boss’s unwanted and aggressive overtures, she is also suffering from migraines, lack of sleep, and vivid dreams. She comes to realize these are not dreams, but they are instead something more. Is it her past life encroaching on the present? Is she seeing ghosts? Is she going crazy? And can she trust Alex, the detective who has suddenly inserted himself into her life?
Alex: A private detective hired to investigate Dr. Scordato and find a long-rumored missing da Vinci painting. Instantly drawn to Angela in an almost magical way, he takes on the role of her protector, but things get complicated when he realizes she may also be the key to him finding the missing painting.
Dr. Scordato: Director of the Getty Museum and an all-around greedy, scum of the earth type of a man. There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for a buck, including cheat, steal, and kill. He knows that Angela is somehow his key to finding the missing da Vinci painting that is worth an inestimably large sum of money. He doesn’t know how she knows what she knows; he only knows that she will help him, whether willingly or unwillingly, find what he wants.
The Painting: A masterpiece of da Vinci, it disappeared almost immediately after it was created, and ever since then deaths have followed in its wake. Perhaps it would be better if it were never found.
I was drawn into this story quite quickly. I wanted to know what the prologue had to do with the rest of the book and where all the characters fit in. I was expecting a book that was a mystery with a paranormal crossover. Instead, I got a romance novel, that also happened to have a bit of mystery and the paranormal.
This book was entertaining, and for the most part, it was an okay read. But it also read quite uneven at times. For example, most of the language in the book is exceptionally clean, so it is particularly jarring when suddenly coarse language is used, not just as dialogue, but as a description.
Another example of the unevenness is found in some of the dialogue. Sometimes it works well and reads very naturally, but other times, like when Alex and Dr. Scordato are arguing early on in the book, the level of verbal violence escalates rather suddenly. It just doesn't match the rest of the scene, and so the reader is left feeling a bit unbalanced. That same pacing or timing issue happens when Angela and Alex quarrel over Alex keeping important information secret. Her reaction seems like an overreaction, and then moving on to forgiveness happens too soon and too readily.
The plot moves along nicely throughout the book. My main complaints in this area are twofold. One, there were times when I wished for a little more detail. Some events seemed rushed. This rushing is only made more apparent by the times when the author does gives us a richly articulated scene. That being said, the story wraps up in a satisfactory way at the end. Indeed, it felt like the most polished part of the book and was rich with detail, imagination, and an interesting twist.
Two, the romance aspect of the book just didn’t work for me as written. It read as being more about giving the reader a graphic sex scene than depicting how real, normal relationships progress. (The word “graphic” is relative, of course.) Because of this, the scenes felt like they were just plopped in. I will admit to a bias here on this one, as I am not a fan of the romance genre. It is entirely possible this style is completely normal. I have therefore disregarded this objection when I considered how I would rate the book, but it bothered me enough that I felt it was worth a mention.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. There were about ten various errors that I noticed, ranging from malapropisms to homophones, to missing commas. I would have taken off an additional half star for those if it were allowed, but they did not seem so numerous as to rate an entire star deduction. The story was engaging, in spite of the objections I named above and will be enjoyed by those looking for a light romance with a bit of mystery and suspense. Those who do not like the romance genre or paranormal aspects should give this one a pass.
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci
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