Rating: 4 stars out of 5
In 18th century Siena, Count Salvesto Masello returns home to find the family villa and his father’s estate deeply in debt. In order to save it, he sells valuable heirlooms, but he is running out of silverware. Somewhere in the villa, his deceased father has hidden the art treasures that will pay the debt—but Salvesto can’t find them anywhere.
Amadeo Neruccio has been on the run from the vicious pimp, thief, and pawnbroker Guelfetto, whose toughs finally catch him and bring him to the cellar where Count Masello is selling off his silver. When the count learns what fate Guelfetto has in store for Amadeo, he intervenes, and trades the last of his mother’s dowry for the young man’s freedom.
Salvesto left home over ten years ago to live the life of adventure he craved and leave his broken heart behind. When he rescues Amadeo, he does not expect to find love again—or the start of his next adventure.
I picked this short by Heloise West, a new author for me, because as it was set in Italy, I couldn’t say no. It was delightful reading, really well done.
The story between Salvesto and Amedeo takes place in the Siena of the 18th century.
Salvesto Masello has just become Conte, he inherited the last villa among his father’s possessions and all its debts. He is having serious financial problems and while selling his silvers to try and save the failure his father made, he meets a young man who is being beaten almost to death.
Amadeo Neruccio has been betrayed and abandoned by his family and now he is going to be sold at a bathhouse. Can Selvesto save him from his destiny?
I admit I didn’t expect to love this story so much, because at first I found it hard to read, something in the writing style made me sweat a little but later I understood was just my limit with the language. What I particularly enjoyed was the atmosphere Heloise created, she got all the smells, the olives, the grapes, the rosemary and lavender plants and foods in general. I was able to appreciate the characters, the secondary ones too, and for a short like this, I found them to be quite developed. I would have just preferred more scenes between the MCs and their romantic relationship.
If I Were Fire is just fifty-nine pages but there was a great work behind the short length. I’m not great at history but what I recall fits the setting of this story. The rivalry between Florence and Siena, the underworld life made of illicit activities. The strong faith in Santa Caterina. The characters names and surnames, the places. I loved it was specific in every little detail, things were never hinted, always clear in the references that indicate a thorough and careful research, from the first sentence.
And when I realized she titled this story like a Cecco Angiolieri poem, S’i’ fosse foco, she won me over.
COVER ART by L.C. Chase. It fits the historical theme. It is well done and the Sienese elements are very appreciated.
ebook, 59 pages
Published September 16th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English