Photographer Dan Wright has finally taken the holiday he’s always wanted. Even though he’s by himself, and it’s sort of a working vacation as Dan captures the gorgeous sights with his camera, Venice is everything he expected and more. Dan meets Cesare in a local pizzeria, they strike up a conversation that leads to an afternoon exploring, which then leads to them together in bed. The men find a strong and immediate connection. But when the week is over, Dan regretfully must go home to England and Cesare to his home in a small conservative town in the Tuscany region. Neither man wants to say goodbye, but they know they have no choice.
Back home, Dan can’t stop thinking about Cesare. He tries to put it behind him, even reconnecting with his ex. But Cesare and Venice are always popping up in his mind. Cesare can’t forget Dan either, and he’s the one that finally makes a move and sends an email to Dan. Though Dan is surprised, he’s also pleased, and the two start corresponding. And as they do, they grow even closer, their friendship growing deeper.
After calling it quits with his ex for the second time, Dan is looking for a change of scenery and when Cesare invites him to his home in Italy, Dan eventually decides to go. The week they spend together is amazing, and both men have fallen fast. But Cesare can never come out; his job and his family would be at stake. It breaks Dan’s heart, but he can’t be someone’s secret and as much as he loves Cesare, he knows it’s better to walk away. But their connection is too strong, and when Cesare needs him, Dan goes running back. Cesare’s life is about to change, and with Dan at his side, he may be able to take that final step to loving openly.
This book is beautifully written. It’s full of lush and poetic prose, descriptions so lavish it’s easy to visualize the scenes. It’s got a gorgeous sense of place. But for all it’s amazing writing and wonderful descriptors, it didn’t hold my attention. I wanted to fall into this book and just be absorbed. It had me right on the edge of doing just that. But in the end, I couldn’t let it happen, because there was just so much telling of what was going on, what was being seen, that I ultimately felt removed from the story.
This is a fairly long book, and here, I really think it worked against the story. There were pages and pages of the aforementioned descriptions, and while it served a purpose, it kept me from really engaging with the characters. Dan was so earnest trying to get his life back together. He was lost, not knowing how to be fully happy and missing things he thought he needed. This was largely his story, as we spent much more time with him than Cesare. And he definitely did some growing and changing, accepting what he wanted and going for it. But it was bogged down in numerous passages of description and the character got lost. It was even worse for Cesare, who we saw less of. He was so sweet, shy, and gentle. And he had this huge pressure hanging over him. As a Catholic, and living in a conservative town with conservative parents and teaching at a conservative school, he could never be honest about who he was. His journey could have been so interesting, as he came to terms with who he was and what he wanted. Instead, his story is minimized greatly. I wanted to spend so much more time with him, understanding him, but he too was lost to the words.
These guys had chemistry so hot that it sparked off the page. But we didn’t get to spend enough time with them at all. The intimate scenes were so well done. But they were few and far between. Especially after their first parting. Dan and Cesare spent a good deal of the book apart, and when they did connect, on the internet and on the phone, we were told about their interaction after the fact instead of being show it on page. I found this disappointing, as the author has a knack for dialogue that really felt real. But there was hardly any dialogue in the book, it seemed and I felt its absence. Because of this, and the time spent apart, I didn’t really feel their love as much as I should have.
I also found the ending somewhat of a disappointment. I don’t need the HEA, everything tied up in a bow kind of ending if something else fits the story. But after such a long time and copious amount of words, I expected more than what ultimately happened. It was a beginning for these guys, and that was nice to see, but I just wanted more from them after such a long lead up.
In the end, this book was lushly and beautifully written, but the sparse plot was spread out for far too long and bogged down with far too much description. Despite the fact that it was well written, and the characters were something special, the style was a hindrance here. While there were parts I truly enjoyed, there was a lot that felt extraneous, which brought down my enjoyment of this story.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.