When cool, reserved Helen Stoddart dons a mask in magical Venice, it changes her life forever. Her identity protected, she succumbs to a night of wild lovemaking with gorgeous Italian, Gabriel Venier. Convinced she’ll never see Gabriel again, Helen returns home to Australia, where an old family scandal sees her hunted by the paparazzi. Then Gabriel arrives, looking for the mystery woman he can’t forget. But the Helen he encounters is withdrawn, arctic, nothing like the gorgeous, sensual woman seared into his memory. Despite Helen’s reluctance, Gabriel makes time for them to get to know each other, and for slow, delicious seduction …
When I was presented with the opportunity to read and review A Venetian Affair, I thought to myself “OK, not usually my favourite kind of story”. Haughty European billionaires and cold, withdrawn heroines aren’t generally my favourite character types.
This book was actually pretty good, it surprised me.
The story flowed well and had a good mix of drama, passion and intrigue – as I would have expected from this type of storyline. It was quite sexy in a Harlequin Presents kind of way, not super-steamy but just enough to maintain that HP vibe. There was a believable attraction and connection between the two main characters.
Gabriel, the hero, was at first glance your typical romance-land billionaire tycoon – “How dare anyone not bend to my will”, “Why wouldn’t you confess all your worldly secrets to me, a complete stranger”, well you get the idea. However, as the story progressed, you see a much softer and more caring side of Gabriel’s character develop, particularly with his encouragement of and feelings for Helen. There were times he could have eased up on the “Me Tarzan, You Jane” act, but being the type of character he is, you can overlook that somewhat. Helen was a little difficult for me at first. She had that mask of spontaneity in Venice, yet the minute she was back in Australia, up come the shutters and the cold, reserved Helen pops back into frame. Now, I don’t blame Helen for being that way – who wouldn’t be if they had been treated like that by their own family and tarred with the same brush by association, leaving all and sundry to judge her unfairly. However, this continues to be the case, even with the love and encouragement of her sister and Gabriel. This grated my nerves a little, as did Gabriel’s continual use of “mio tesoro”. I don’t mind the use of pet names, but after a while, I just start thinking of Julio Iglesias in a velvet suit – becomes a little creepy.
I absolutely love that the story opens in Venice. It is just about one of my favourite places in the world. It’s a lively and happening city with rich veins of romance and mystery running through its laneways and along its canals. The setting was perfect for their interlude – dark, mysterious, romantic.
If you are a reader of Harlequin Presents or Mills & Boon Sexy, this book would be right up your alley.
As a sidenote, I had to have a little giggle to myself when it was revealed that because of what her family had done, Helen wasn’t able to work in her dream career….being an accountant. I have worked with and for accountants for longer than I can remember and I am not sure all of them share Helen’s love for auditing and number-crunching.
My rating: 3 out of 5
Release Date: 15 March 2013
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Destiny Romance, an imprint of Penguin Australia via NetGalley in return for an honest review.