It is an incredible coincidence that I read two Lynne Graham books within days of each other, and each has a hero named Vito and a heroine who is a redhead and who has a strangely similar family history (with a few differences). Honest to goodness, I didn't do that deliberately. It was just one of those serendipity things.
I know some readers might be annoyed by the fact that the plot is slightly recycled. I wasn't. I think that in a long writing career, that's bound to happen to a prolific writer. I know that in my own writing I work out issues I see in life and that affect me on a deep level. So I'm not dismayed to see this in writers I follow.
Ava doesn't have an abrasive personality, and she probably would be entitled to it, considering her past. She carries a burden of guilt that has stripped that away from her, if she ever had it. It's heartbreaking what she suffered, and when it's revealed what truly happened, it makes it even worse. I think that Vito could have been a more sympathetic hero. I didn't love him, although neither did I hate him. He was kind of 'meh' for me. He was a bit too cold and unemotional (detached) to me. I felt that he loved Ava by the end of the book, but I didn't feel like he deeply needed her the way I like to feel from a hero. I think his attitude about sexuality was a turnoff. He was too much of a womanizer for my tastes. I think that his actions were initially motivated by a desire to get Ava in bed, even if he didn't want to acknowledge it on a deeper level. I'm not saying he didn't grow in his feelings for her, but I don't like when the heroes' feelings start merely as sexual (and his felt a bit lecherous to me).
Also, Vito didn't seem to want to believe the best of Ava. All along, he was willing to think she was everything that the past seemed to dictate, but he didn't consider how much his brother Olly loved and respected Ava and take that seriously enough. Let me put it this way, if my sister has a high opinion of someone, I take it very seriously. I guess that's why I was not 100% satisfied with this book. When it is revealed how badly Ava was wronged, I wanted to feel more remorse and regret for what she went through from Vito.
This story is pretty heavy and dark for a Lynne Graham book, surprisingly so. It really shows a profound degree of familial dysfunction. I kind of liked that, but I think things were wrapped up a bit too smoothly with a bow to balance out the really dark nature of this storyline. While I see love between Vito and Ava, I didn't get enough of a love payoff in this book. It's still a four star read because it was captivating and kept my interest. I was deeply enthralled with Ava's story and I wanted the best for her. I think she's a happy woman as far as the book ended, but I wasn't 100% satisfied. So it's a weak four stars.