Thursday, April 24, 2014

Murder, Mi Amore by Cara Marsi

Murder, Mi Amore by Cara Marsi
Note:  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
My Experience: B++
Synopsis:    Lexie Cortese is in Rome to forget. The last thing she expects is to meet a sexy Interpol agent who suspects her of being part of a terrorist plot involving a stolen diamond. Suddenly thrust into a world of murders, muggings, and kidnappings, Lexie doesn’t know what to think—or who to believe. 
Dominic Brioni’s assignment is simple. Befriend the American and bring her to justice. Only Lexie seems the most unlikely terrorist Dominic has ever met. Sweet, determined, and direct, she faces life with courage and fire, a fire that sparks his protective instincts and a longing for something more—something he allowed himself to hope for only once before. But that woman betrayed him, and his boss isn’t about to let him forget it. With his career on the line and Lexie in danger, will Dominic learn to trust his heart before they both get killed?

Lexie was going to get on with her life, after a trip to Rome.  This vacation was exactly what she needed to rebuild her confidence, forget her heartache and steep her soul in history.  But no, it wasn’t Lexie’s imagination.  Strange things were happening.  Dominic didn’t *really* believe Lexie was a courier for terrorist.  Everyone else did, as emphatically as they believed Dominic could not learn from his past.  Even if he could, they weren’t going to allow him to forget it.  So he smoldered in frustration while doing his best to figure out what the heck was going on, protect Lexie, handle flesh wounds,  and try to keep his boss pacified.  How he juggled all that and managed to looks so gorgeous is still mystery unsolved.  Lexie will probably have to study this for years and years and years....

I could SEE this couple.  They were well developed, had believable foibles and strengths and were about more than the omigosh, I'm in lust and can't keep my fly zipped, my blouse buttoned and talk for five darn minutes to figure out if I actually like you, or myself when I'm with you.  He had a sister, missed his parents, wasn't sure what everyone considered a mistake really was, and tried to do what was right.  She had a great best friend, a rejected heart, dreams that made her long to spread her wings without slapping anyone in the face, and kept trying to do what was right.  Dissatisfied with the status quo of other's expectations they were both ready for more.  New beginning with someone is very alluring and that’s where love crept in amidst the muggings and murders.  I totally believed in this romance between Lexie and Dominic. That's a rare and precious treasure these days.

Like cheese grated over pasta, Ms. Marsi gives you details enough to keep the story moving and entice you to read on without weighting you down.  The writing was crisp and tight with just a drizzle of angst and self-conflict.  Dialog was beguiling, not snarky.  The plot wasn’t complicated but it didn’t need to be, the enforced timeline of a vacation romance, locale and cultural differences provided the perfect twists and turn.

The villains were a bit two dimensional and too stereotypical but they were certainly chilling enough to prevent them from stealing the story. Dominic’s boss needed a course in people management but in this case, for me, it cemented the facts of Dominic’s dissatisfaction and choices he made later.  The compensation for this came in the speed of decisions, communication and Dominic's "you're on your own" status.  Therefore I was okay with a jerk for a boss that probably wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world of international cooperation with many levels of authority.  I long for the day when someone writes The Spy Boss as the diplomat he must be.  It won't be as amusing or annoying but I might could stand that.  For this book, the curmudgeon worked fine and gave Dominic the framework he needed to cast off the shackles of his past.  It sucks that you can do things right and still everything goes wrong but that IS life.

Best of all Lexie didn’t sit passively chewing her nails with endless, aimless internal monologues or devolve in to a too stupid to live twit.  There was the perfect balance of self reflection and action.  I cheered when she charged off to the police and then the American consulate.  She was frustrated but not surprised when they dismissed her as a hysterical woman.  It seems officials everywhere apply hysterical to any woman that dares admit she’s afraid of violent coincidences.  Discovering that Dominic had not reported the events as he promised upset her but she didn’t fly off the handle, didn’t get in his face and make outrageous accusations.  She asked.  He answered.  She weighed the facts and they moved on.  I so appreciate characters that think instead of respond in fiery emotional dialog that is hateful and mean yet seemingly erased in two chapters because they’re in lurv.  Lexie & Dominic were careful people, they cared about another's feelings and reacted accordingly. It was refreshing but not syrupy!

I did feel the ending was a bit rushed.  Even for a vacation romance, the HEA tied up with bows happened too fast and prevented this from being an A book for me. I like scabs to form and the glass to be swept up before the marriage proposal, just saying.  Otherwise, Murder, Mi Amore is a perfect Saturday Hammock or Weekday Commuter read. A well-balanced story and romance that allows you to reintegrate with real life when you have to; eager to return not just to the hammock but to the adventure.

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