A New Life is a clean, cozy, contemporary romance novel with mystery elements added for fun. The book is fun, and romantic, and touching at moments. I like the cozy style, so I found it to be a very enjoyable read, and I'm grateful the author provided me with a review-copy. If you are looking for a raunchy romance, look elsewhere.
The female protagonist of A New Life, U.S. American Anne, has an appealing quality about her, reminding me of a protagonist from a Bronte sisters' novel. The male lead, English Peter, is equally appealing, with a reserve and professional manner that one would expect from the English manager of a four-star hotel in Florence, Italy.
The first chapter sets up the premise of the novel quickly and surely. We learn that Anne hopes for a fresh start in life after being falsely accused of murdering her boyfriend in America. The media-circus surrounding the case made her life unbearable, and gave her no choice but to ask for help from a distant, wealthy, Italian cousin. He arranged her new job as Peter's secretary.
Anne's recent experience behind bars (she was never granted bail) adds a touching pathos to her, like when she sees, for the first time, a suite at the hotel where she will be working:
She tiptoed forward until she stood next to the four-poster bed. Red and gold brocade hangings shimmered like a waterfall in the light. Anne couldn't resist. Her fingertips touched the material and caressed it....All at once, she was back in the cell she had come to hate. Beauty hadn't belonged there. At times, she had doubted it existed.For a second she was afraid she would burst into tears. With a quick movement, she pivoted to the windows to hide her face.
Through a skillful use of an alternating point-of-view, the author lets us into the minds of our two protagonists. Many times we are even given a glimpse of their opposing takes on the same action, which I found a lovely touch. We are allowed to see immediately what the characters think of each other, not in the exaggerated way of many modern romance novels, but in a subtle, normal manner, that feels true to life.
The growing attraction between the two leads is presented in a gentle way. You will not find any of those odd descriptions that appear in some "romances" that read like direct quotes from a physiology textbook section on the "Signs of Sexual Arousal". No quivering, quaking, throbbing, palpitating nonsense here. But that doesn't mean there is no romance! There is plenty of it, presented in a loving, humane style.
Here is Anne deciding that she should face the facts about her feelings for Peter:
Maybe it was time to open her eyes and to admit something she had pushed to the furthest corner of her mind. She'd fallen for him. How stupid. Secretary falls in love with her boss. What a tepid thing to do.
What adds extra fun to the story is that just when you settle in for the romance, an event occurs that shakes the story and the characters up, and brings Anne and Peter closer together. The author is very good at keeping her characters unsettled, and the reader interested. She never resorts to endless repetition of a past hurt, like some writers seem to do. The author keeps Anne's story fresh by adding new details as we go along. We learn more about Peter, too, coming to appreciate his natural reserve, and his respect for Anne.
At the beginning of the book the author uses that modern affectation in which the necessary colon punctuation mark is replaced with a period, or a period and a new paragraph; and the paragraphing makes no sense; and the sentences are grammatical fragments. I'm not a fan of that style so I was quite relieved when that was dropped, for the most part, very quickly. So you know what I mean, here is an example from the book:
Even if the whole of Europe should turn out to be gray, it had one big advantage.
Nobody knew her here.
That counted more than everything.
And another example:
She would have to face the manager of the Garibaldi Hotel soon. Peter Grant.
If you've never been to Florence, and you wish to understand the setting for A New Life, or if you have been to Florence, and you wish for a reminder of why it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, here is a lovely two minute video postcard of the city:
As a former ex-pat who lived in Florence, Italy, I especially enjoyed the asides from Peter concerning gossipy Florence:
Confound this village! Ancient Florence minus the tourists was so small, it sometimes felt like living in a large family, with all the disadvantages.
The romance brought me into the story, then the mystery element of the story carried me to the exciting climax of the book, and I was rewarded with a sweet, romantic ending. If that is the kind of book you enjoy, then I recommend you try A New Life. The author has other cozy books set in Italy, so if you enjoy her style, you have more books to look forward to!
From the book's description:
Imagine you're accused of murder - but you're innocent.
Imagine you've finally been acquitted due to lack of evidence - but you've lost your job and your friends in the meantime.
Imagine you have to start a new life in Italy - but you don't even speak Italian.
Imagine your new boss seems to hate you - but for some reason, he bowls you over.
And then, just as life seems to become good again, history repeats itself ...
Other books set in Italy by the same author:
- Mischief in Italy
- Delayed Death - Temptation in Florence #1
- Charmer's Death - Temptation in Florence #2
- Banker's Death - Temptation in Florence #3
If you would like to sample the author's writing style, download her free e-book romantic short story, The Beauty and Beast E. I've read it and I enjoyed it very much! There is nothing to do with Italy in the story, but there is lots of clean fun. I provide direct links below to the free e-book.
A New Life is available in various e-book formats from the on-line e-book shop Smashwords. If you live outside the U.S., the Kindle-mobi edition is less expensive if you purchase it via Smashwords, because they do not add an outside-the-U.S.-surcharge like Amazon.com does.
Here is the link to the A New Life Kindle e-book at Amazon.com:
Here is the link to the free Kindle e-book romantic short story The Beauty and Beast E at Amazon.com:
And here are more Beate Boeker's books available via Amazon.com:
Please visit the author's website and blog.
Here is the book trailer for the author's Temptation in Florence Series, a cute, quick 1 minute intro to the cozy mystery series set in Florence, Italy.
This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.