4 out of 4 stars
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The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami is a unique blend of several genres which come together in a fun and engaging style. Historical fiction based on the art and artistry of Leonardo da Vinci is the basis for a mystery that becomes entwined with a paranormal fantasy and a steamy romance. The history of the machinations of the Medici family, the relationships da Vinci had with his friends and models, a centuries-old illicit love affair, the World War II bombing of Naples and the search for an ultra-rare painting create a spicy mélange which Ms. Ami has crafted into a well-written tale.
The author’s prowess and skill as a writer shines, and the narrative is compelling and easy to read. The plot concerns a present-day couple, Angela Renata and Alex Caine, who both have visions and dreams which lead them to understand that they are the reincarnation of lovers who have been separated by death. While not exactly plausible, the story is entertaining.
Angela is an art historian and Alex is an investigator of stolen art. They are brought together to help solve the puzzle of a missing painting which is thought to be an unknown da Vinci masterpiece. Sparks fly from their first meeting and soon they join forces to recover the painting and present it to the world before Angela’s ex-boss, Alberto Scordato finds it. Scordato, the former director of the prestigious Getty Museum in Los Angeles, is a sexual harasser and all-around despicable villain. He wants to find the painting himself and sell it on the black market so that he can make a fortune. I found Scordato a one-dimensional villain and easy to hate. The one thing I did object to in this book was Scordato's fantasy of raping Angela as a way to get revenge. It was disturbing and I was baffled as to why the author found it necessary to mention it so many times.
The Girl Who Knew da Vinci uses the subtitle, “An Out of Time Thriller”. In my opinion, this book is not a thriller. If I had picked up this book thinking it was a thriller, I would have been very disappointed. Though the art history angle does have an international scope, this book does not have the pacing or the ‘whole world is in danger’ stakes of an international thriller. Nor does it have the ‘ticking time bomb’ feel of so many novels whose protagonists are actually fighting a deadline. Even though they both know their opponent is after them, Alex and Angela experience a delightfully relaxed life until the very end of the book. Characters in a thriller would be reading dossiers and contemplating tactics. Angela and Alex eat leisurely meals, share passionate kisses, and take long soapy showers as a prelude to lustful, soul changing sex. That’s a romance, not a thriller.
However, there was enough mystery, coupled with some suspense and action, to make me keep turning the pages. I found the past-life histories of Angela and Alex enriched and deepened the story and added to their personalities. The descriptions of the Italian countryside, coupled with Alex’s knowledge of local history and architecture made for some interesting asides.
I highly recommend The Girl Who Knew da Vinci to everyone, except maybe the most rabid haters of the romance genre. The book was well edited and formatted. I only noticed three very minor typos.
I rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars s.
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci
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