3 out of 4 stars
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Angela Renatus is an art historian who is experiencing strange and vivid dreams of the past. These dreams about Giuliano de Medici and his mistress, Fioretta Gorini, also allude to a mysterious painting possibly painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Her visions are becoming more persistent, and Angela knows she must discover the truth of the painting’s existence and her connection to it for herself.
Alex Caine is an art detective who has been hired by Max Jaeger to find this mysterious painting and clear the name of his uncle, Gerhard Jaeger, a German art historian who went missing in Florence during WWII. Letters from Gerhard to his mother tell of his love for the beautiful Italian art historian he is working with at the Uffizi Gallery, Sophia Caro. He conveys his excitement over the discovery of a painting documented as the work of a student, but that he believes only da Vinci himself could have painted.
When Alex and Angela meet, it seems as though fate is driving them together and urging them to find the painting, but they aren’t the only ones looking. Anthony Scordato, Angela’s former boss, is also in search of the missing da Vinci and will stop at nothing to obtain it. He believes Angela is the key to finding the lost masterpiece and will use any means necessary to get her to reveal its location. Time is running out. Will Angela and Alex locate the missing da Vinci, or are the tragedies of the past destined to repeat themselves once more?
In The Girl Who Knew da Vinci, the author, Belle Ami, uses Angela’s dreams as a mechanism to move back and forth in time from the painting's creation, to when it disappeared during WWII, to present day. Ami definitely has a basic working knowledge of the Renaissance and has either been to Italy or has researched it thoroughly, as she writes beautiful descriptions. This book oozes potential. The premise of the story is intriguing; a priceless work of art lost to time just waiting to be discovered and the tragedy surrounding it. The shifts in time are apparent, and the visits to the past are my favorite parts of this book. Unfortunately, the characters lack any real depth. The good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad.
The first half of the book has momentum moving back and forth in time and telling the stories of the people involved with the painting, but the second half of the book has so many erotic scenes that the plot starts to take a back seat and causes the story to drag. The scenes are pretty well-written but superfluous. I also found the dialogue to be weak. I found myself cringing when reading some of the conversations, especially between Alex and Angela because most people don’t talk that way. I also felt like the author could have incorporated a lot more history to fill out the story. The little history she did give had me engaged since I don’t know a whole lot about art. I was craving more information and was disappointed when there wasn’t any.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. Ami has a beautiful idea here and writes some fantastic descriptions, but I had to remove a star for the flatness of the characters, lack of history, and dragging plot in the second half of the book. There are very few errors leading me to believe that this book was edited by a professional. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a reasonably interesting quick read. People who are looking for a delicious mystery, immersive historical fiction, or those who don't care for romance may want to skip this one.
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci
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