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Loving Lucianna: A Hearts in Autumn Romance Kindle Edition
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I was at first worried that I would be a little lost reading this novel, because though it is the first novel in a new series, it has a return of the cast of characters from another DiPastena novel "Illuminations of the Heart". The heroine Lucianna and hero Sir Balduin of this novel were deuteragonists to the heroine and hero protagonists Siri and Triston in "Illuminations of the Heart". This wasn't an issue as it was stand alone with brief explanations in the text, as well as included a Cast of Characters page, Italian Glossary, and Medieval Glossary. I also enjoyed the Author's Note about how the author got new Italian character names for this novel by mixing and matching up the first and last names of distant members from her real life Italian genealogy family tree. I enjoyed the exception of the black sheep villain brother of Lucianna who was given both the actual first and last name of a black sheep criminal in the author's genealogy that she included as a small inside family joke.
I really enjoyed the writing and the novel. The novel takes place in romantic medieval Poitou, France. There are also four flashback chapters that take place in medieval Venice, Italy that slowly give clues to the big suspenseful mystery of the novel. What is the painful horrible destructive secret the heroine Lucianna is hiding, that has kept her unwed all these years and that she is in fear will annihilate all love for her from all the people she cares for? A secret that could also possibly get her exiled? The flashback chapters also give the background story on the unbreakable loyal bond of sisterly love and friendship between Lucianna and Elisabetta (Siri's mother) who were inseparable from age 8 till Elisabetta's death. Elisabetta was the only one alive before her death who knew of Lucianna's secret, except Lucianna's blackmailing parasitic leech of a brother of course. The few flashback scenes in Venice always enhanced what was going on in the prior and after scenes in France instead of distracting and were well done.
I really loved the heroine Lucianna and hero Sir Balduin. Lord Triston delicately and carefully describes Sir Balduin's fiancée, Lucianna, to him as a "complicated" and "difficult" woman and asks Sir Balduin if he is sure he will be happy. Lucianna is not a soft passive woman who keeps her feelings to herself. Lucianna's passionate temper is as fiery as her auburn hair and she has no problem telling you the truth of what she thinks in her native Italian or learned French. Yet, her love, kindness, devotion, and service to those she cares about is just as passionate. I did wish she had used of some of that courage she used to speak her mind all the time to trust the loyalty of all her loved ones if her secret came out and to help her stop hesitating and doubting Sir Balduin's devotion to their relationship. This leads me to Sir Balduin. Though he was alluded to as this highly skilled warrior who had vanquished many men even when in a fight outnumbered, I loved that he had a gentle and patient manner with Lucianna. No matter what Lucianna verbally threw at him, he never fired back, but was always rational, calm, and loving. He never fed the fire for an argument to continue. He always was thinking of thoughtful or romantic things to give her or do. Some were absolutely heart squeezing and other attempts provided some amusing humor to the story. I loved his commitment and persistence to keep the woman he loved.
The slimy parasitic blackmailing leech Serafino was a perfect villain and the patient wait for his undoing was so satisfying and worth the wait!
Sensuality Content: Kisses only.
Source: Review copy in exchange for my 100% honest opinion
The book's chapters move the reader from Lucianna's present to her past and back again to the woman's present. Unlike some romance novels, Luciana has a lover when the book begins, and is set to wed him in three weeks time. The rest of the novel is about Luciana's struggle to protect her lover from shame and hurt, even if it means giving him up. But true to the genre, true love prevails in the end.
It seems as if a whole novel is referenced in the first chapter of Loving Lucianna, and that is because that is exactly the case. The characters in Loving Lucianna first appear in the author's novel Illuminations of the Heart. I wish I had read that book first and been witness to Lucianna and her lover's courtship. I would consider Loving Lucianna a sequel, featuring characters who clearly became dear to the author's heart.
Lucianna's lover is a mature man with many qualities and skills. He feels capable only late in his life of supporting a wife, and Lucianna is the woman he wants to fulfill that role.
The text is peppered with Italian words, which are largely explained within the text. The author provides a small Glossary of the Italian words used in the book. There is also a helpful Glossary of Medieval terms, for those readers unfamiliar with the archaic words and customs.
Personally, I think I would have enjoyed reading the story chronologically, but the author is very skilful in weaving her story together, moving through time. It is difficult to comprehend the threat that Lucianna feels, since our present-day sensibilities are so different from the 1100s. Sometimes I found her fear silly, and often I found Lucianna's actions cruel. But those were different times. And all ends well. If her lover can forgive her, I suppose I can too.
For lovers of historical novels there is a nice sprinkling of historical detail, some cultural, some political. It never overpowers the story, which is how I like my historical novels, so I was pleased. We get a glimpse into the life of women in Medieval Venice and southwestern France. Women were the property of men, so the ladies' position in the book can be frustrating to read about for modern women, but it also can make us grateful for the changes that have come with time and struggle.
An extra at the end of the book is a section Discussion Questions. This is a book for fans of Medieval romances, preferably ones who have read the author's previous book Illuminations of the Heart. Loving Lucianna will be especially appreciated by mature women who will enjoy reading about "two autumn hearts".
Please read my full and illustrated review at Italophile Book Reviews.
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When I first started reading this book I thought I wouldn't like it but was I ever wrong.Read more