4 out of 4 stars
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In 1475 Leonardo da Vinci, artist, scientist, and inventor is a Medici family favorite. His friend and favorite model Fioretti Gorini catches the eye and captures the heart of Giuliano Medici. Giuliano commissions Leonardo to paint their traditional wedding portrait. The masterpiece created by da Vinci becomes the centerpiece of a mystery that spans over five centuries and two forbidden love affairs before ensnaring a third couple.
It's 2018. Art historian Angela Renatus and stolen/lost art investigator Alex Caine are drawn together to hunt for a painting that disappeared from the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy, during the German occupation of World War II. Alex has been hired by Max Jaeger who believes the painting to be connected with his uncle Gerhard Jaeger, a deserter from the Nazi forces in 1944. Based on letters written by Gerhard, Max believes the painting, previous thought to be by one of da Vinci's ateliers, to be one actually painted by The Maestro himself. If so, it would be worth millions of dollars. It might also help Max clear his uncle's name. Unfortunately, there are others who also think the painting is a da Vinci and they are determined to get it to sell on the black market.
Angela, currently employed at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, wants to get away from her boss Anthony Scordato and his unwanted attention. Scordata is ruthless in pursuit of what he wants. When Alex Caine invites Angela on his hunt for the painting, she takes the chance to get away from Scordato and also fulfill a desire to travel to Florence. Plus, there's something about Alex that whispers he can fulfill more than one of her heart's desires. Alex, instead of being put-off by Angela's nightmares and the increasingly frequent fugue experiences that take her back in time, begins to be drawn into those experiences. The two become the focus of the sinister plot to steal the da Vinci once found.
This book absolutely gets 4 out of 4 stars from me. It is a complex plot that not only spans generations but also writing genres, and Belle Ami does it exceedingly well. The story flows with few proofing errors to distract the reader. From Prologue to Epilogue this adventure grabbed my attention and held it. There are no slow area, nothing that bogs down. Each main character is well-formed and believable, as is the dialogue. I also like that there is no blurring between good and evil-the villains are villainous and the heroine and hero are people I'd like to know. There is enough detail in each locale to be realistic and the descriptions of Florence are so vibrant I found myself Googling photos to actually see Brunelleschi's Dome. There are a lot of time transitions but they flow seamlessly from 1475 to 2018 to 1944, back and forth multiple times. Instead of being disruptive, they drew me more deeply into what was happening.
There are three couples, one in each time period, to whom the painting is important, and the passion they share more than just sizzles. Spanning centuries, the sensuality is explosive. The sexually explicity writing is the one thing I don't fully support, although I'm sure many will love it. Like Angela in the Uffizi gallery, I found myself an embarrassed observer of intimacies I believe are best left to the imagination.
This is not a book for blood and gore seekers, nor is it a grab-you-by-the-throat thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is, however, a well-written suspenseful adventure, a treasure hunt where the prize is not just a priceless painting but love that even death can't conquer, where past lives reach into today in the age-old battle of Good versus Evil. And, for those who want it, there is some really hot sex.
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci
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