Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Luca Dell’Oro is the owner of an event planning business in California. He takes a job in Italy to cater a funeral for an Italian opera singer. The client is a grieving widower, the man Luca loved in sixteenth-century Italy. Luca is a vampire, but how is Francesco still alive? That seems obvious, but the details are sad and Francesco has many reasons to hold a grudge. At first, we’re not sure what his motives are for hiring Luca to bury his wife, Elettra. I will say the blurb is a little misleading, almost to misdirect you about the plot when there isn’t a lot of plot to begin with. This is a pretty straightforward second chances story with a lot of baggage.
I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect this to be so funny. Everything in the first half of the book is entertaining. Luca does like to hear himself think. His reminiscences allow us to get to know him. Italian Weddings and Funerals, which he runs from his home, allows him to stay involved in the life around him. I loved learning about his unique vampiric powers little by little. He seems a man content in his life and in charge of his surroundings. He has hired an interesting cast of quicky employees. I was drawn in by the descriptions of them from Luca’s point of view. Unfortunately most of them are either not there or fade into the background during the second half of the book. The new characters we meet are not fleshed out. Even the man Luca shares a room with in Italy is barely mentioned.
In the second half, the tone changes which makes sense going from planning a wedding, to planning a wake. Still, Luca also changes when he arrives in Italy and the book seems to be more wrapped up in what is happening around him. In many ways, he ran away from Italy, his friends, his lover, his life–oh, there were reasons, but this is the first time he has had to confront his losses. It seemed strange to me that although Luca is quite wealthy, he chooses to cater for a living and basically be the help, and be treated as such by those who were once his equals. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a form of self punishment for being a vampire, like denying himself food and love. He also seems to have been in mourning for centuries, never really living once separated from Francesco. I’m not sure I like this new Luca. But, Luca is a much more solid person as compared to Francesco, who comes across as selfish and weak–bound by the expectations of others and definitely spoiled.
The sex scenes are well written and explicit, but don’t seem meant for titillation so much as just part of what happens. Vampires like sex and blood, so if it will bother you for the main characters to have sex with others in the same story, be warned. I wonder if we will see Luca’s lover Keefe again since we spent so much time with him before Italy, although this too now seems like a pattern for Luca.
I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the way it ended, however it was also an abrupt turnabout. I mean they have been separated for centuries and jump right back into being together. Don’t you think they might have changed a bit over time? Wouldn’t they get to know each other again, and I mean for longer than a couple of weeks? Also, Francesco did seem to care for his wife to have spent 500 years with her and he really hasn’t had any time to mourn. It will be interesting to see how things develop in book two because nostalgia and memories are quite different than daily reality and right now, I think Luca deserves better. I also liked Luca better as a character without Francesco, or maybe just the humor and confidence he showed in his home environment in California. I would call this a HFN (happy for now.)
The cover art is by Martine Jardin. It has an old fashioned sepia feel and shows a place they spent time together in the past when they were young lovers and both met Elettra.
ebook, 1st Edition, 109 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by eXtasy Books (first published March 14th 2011)