Not all mysteries involve murder. Not all ghosts were once human. Bewitchment can be enchanting. And monsters lurk everywhere.
John Berendt conjures up a gallery of intriguing characters for this magical tour of Venice in the aftermath of the 1996 fire that gutted the historic La Fenice Opera House. At the heart, of course, is the investigation into the cause of fire -- was it arson? was it negligence? was it just an unfortunate accident? But how the fire touched various lives, and how those lives were part of the mystique of the city, makes for fascinating reading.
Spoiler -- The cause of the fire is determined at the end and the responsible parties are convicted. Or are they? In a city like Venice, it's hard to say. Is corruption rampant? Well, maybe yes. That's part of its charm.
The whole city is haunted by its own 1500-year-old past, and menaced by the monsters of time and water and pollution. If ghosts don't actually walk the halls of the palazzos, their spirits remain unforgotten by the living. There are the rooms where Robert Browning read his poetry . . . and where he died. There is the house where Ezra Pound lived with his mistress of 50 years, the house almost stolen by someone perhaps eager to cash in on Pound's fame.
Venice may own much of its current survival to American millionaires who, for whatever reasons, sought to preserve its patrician glamour, perhaps in hopes some of it would magically rub off on them.
Halloween, or the Celtic Samhain, is a time when the veil between our physical world and the spirit world thins to permit visions and visits back and forth. While I was reading John Berendt's fascinating descriptions of the places and people of turn-of-the-millenium Venice, I couldn't help but think of John Ruskin's monumental The Stones of Venice and the impact it had both on his and subsequent generations of both art historians and social reformers, as well as Madeleine Brent's 20th century gothic romance, Tregaron's Daughter. The atmosphere of the gothic winds through the three works like morning fog twisting over the lagoon and drifting down the canals.
An interesting note: Ruskin obtained his own camera in 1849 to take photos of Venice for research. The City of Falling Angels lost half a star for not containing illustrations! Perhaps Berendt expected his readers to sit beside their computers -- or read on them? -- and look up their own photos.
The January 1996 fire, from www.VeniceOnline.it, which has quite a gallery of photos from the fire.
And the rebuilt La Fenice -- "The Phoenix," rising again from its own ashes -- in 2004.
“...one of the most engaging and well-written romance books I have read...It's like nothing you've read before. It touches the issues no one talks about in our community. And it's a MUST-READ."
--LJ Shen, Amazon Bestselling Author
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Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out. I know. I've been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I've got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary. And Marlon James - Grip to his fans - is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I've thrown away the key. All that's left is friendship and work.
He's on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true. I manage his career, but I can't seem to manage my heart.
It's wild, reckless, disobedient. And it remembers all the things I want to forget.
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“Neither of us has been in a serious relationship in years.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.” I stand and slide my feet into the Jimmy Choos. “You haven’t exactly been waiting around, have you?”
“Damn right I haven’t been waiting around.” He doesn’t get up, but his firm hold on my wrist stops me from walking away. “I’m not Rhyson.”
I look down at him, frowning my confusion.
“What do you mean?”
“Remember when Kai put Rhyson in the friend zone?”
Of course I do. For a long time, my sister-in-law Kai denied the attraction between her and Rhyson.
“When Kai wasn’t checking for Rhys, I assumed he had to be sleeping with other girls.” Grip shrugs. “I mean, he and Kai were just friends. But, nope. He said he only wanted Kai and didn’t sleep with anyone else.”
“Then you’re right.” I tug at my wrist, but he holds on tight. “You’re definitely not Rhyson.”
“It was months, Bristol. She shut him out for months. Not years.”
“I’m not shutting you out.” I release a tired breath. “I’m living my life, and you’re living yours.”
“Right.” He nods and turns his mouth down at the corners. “So, if you won’t be with me, then I’ll fuck whoever the hell I want. If you have a problem with that, you know what to do about it.”
For a moment, our eyes tangle in the dimness. His words sink into my flesh like briars. Every word out of his mouth only proves that I’m right to get out of here. That I’m right not to give in. If I ever gave him a chance and he fucked around on me . . . I’ve seen what that looks like. It looks like a woman as strong as my mother reduced to pathetic, teary drunkenness.
“It’s none of my business.” I shift my eyes away from him and to the glittering city skyline just beyond the rooftop.
“It’s none of your business until you say it is.”
I force myself to look back.
“Don’t hold your breath, Grip.” I say my next words with deliberation. “I mean, it’s not like I’m sitting around saving it, either.”
He pulls me forward, and I press my hand to the hardness of his chest so I don’t fall into him. My knee supports me, pressed against his on the couch.
“Are you poking me?” One strong hand wraps around the back of my thigh, anger marking his expression. “Do you want to know if it bothers me when you fuck other guys?”
I just stare at him unblinkingly. He presses my leg, urging me forward until I’m fully on the couch, fully on him, one knee on either side of his legs, facing him. Straddling him.
“It makes me want to set the world on fire.” His words come softly, but the truth roars in his eyes. “To think of you with them.”
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Grip by Kennedy Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Bristol and Marlon AKA Grip's story continues in this amazingly touching and yet intense story. Grip has been chasing her since that very special moment back in college. The best Spring Break of their lives.
Grip has all but given up, since the better part of a decade has past and still she will not give him an inch. He has tried to move on - but at what expense? Can the heart really forget what his head tells him he must?
This book was everything I was looking for, and more. In typical fashion, this author gives us an intense relationship filled with twists and turns. With a little suspense thrown in. I loved it. Even though I cried and laughed my way through it. This was made better with some of our favorite characters and surprises thrown in.
***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review.
This story is continued from the FREE prequel, FLOW. You can get yourself a copy and see more information, including my review at http://bit.ly/2lc5qXh!
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Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.
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