Saturday, February 6, 2021

Review: Confessions of an Italian Marriage

Confessions of an Italian Marriage by Dani Collins has the kind of bananapants plot that keep readers coming back to Presents. Oh sure, the Alpha heroes, the glitz, the glamor - whatever. It's the hyperintensity of the romance with a side of bananapants. That's the appeal. At least for me, and I basically lost an evening inhaling this story.  Was it successful?  Well, yes and no. 

Spoilers ahead!
CW: Miscarriage

When Giovanni was a teenager he was in a horrific car accident that killed his parents, his older brother, and left him a paraplegic. He inherited money, but not one to rest on his laurels, our Italian hero made billions in app development. Living a double-life, he meets a complication at a gala event - Freja, who is a waitress with the company catering the event.

Freja's mother died when she was young and she was raised by a nomad father who took her all around the world writing travelogues. Naturally Freja was a regular topic of discussion in his writings, so she's sorta/kinda famous in the circles of people who read travelogues. It was while on their last adventure together that her father had the opportunity to join a group touring North Korea (wait for it...) - and he naturally took Freja with him and naturally he had a stroke and naturally the tour group left them behind and naturally Daddy died and Freja was now stuck in North Korea courtesy of the government.  She eventually gets out with the help of her father's agent back in New York.

So Giovanni and Freja meet at this gala and Freja knows of him because during her father's travels she took fencing lessons (of course) from Giovanni's older brother.  The older brother, and their parents, having died in that car accident that turns out wasn't an accident.  Giovanni knows someone who works at Interpol (because of course he does) and he's now working undercover as a spy.  He's not James Bond, he's more of an "information gatherer."  And now here's Freja who "knew" his brother and just happened to spend time in North Korea.  He has to check her out.

Naturally what happens next is that these two burn up the sheets and Giovanni falls into lust.  Then, of course, they're so hot for each other that one time they don't use a condom.  Which Giovanni doesn't think will be an issue since he can't ejaculate and Freja was naturally a virgin before he came along (no pun intended).  But, wait for it, he ejaculates.  By some miracle since it's apparently rare for him.  This is handwaved away thanks to medical mysteries blah, blah, blah - but more likely it's because this is a Presents and the heroine has a magic who-ha.  Anyway, so now they wait to see if she's pregnant - and given the title of this book I think we know the answer to that....

Stuff happens and then, because Giovanni is a super-secret spy, he has to fake his own death.  The book opens with Freja suspecting her husband isn't dead and she's pissed. She inherited all his wealth, the vultures are circling and she wants to draw her husband out in the open. So she asks her very smart gay friend to assist in running the business and "marry" her. Freja has a book coming out soon, plus a blog and social media reach - so she's been splashing her impending "nuptials" all over the Interwebs.  And naturally, Giovanni returns bringing all his secrets out into the open.

Like I said, bananapants.

The story itself is well executed.  It opens at present-day with Giovanni "dead", then we get several chapters of flashback time about the start of their relationship, and then the final third covers the reunion. Also Giovanni's disability is handled well.  It's not used as a prop for angst or used for emo baggage to generate a "wounded hero."  Other than the accident leading to Giovanni doing "spy work" and the whole "oopsie-doodle I ejaculated, I didn't think I could do that!" his disability is not used to prop up the conflict either.  He's a guy, who needs to use a wheelchair, living his life. I liked that aspect, as well as Freja's feistiness once Giovanni comes roaring back into her life.  But it is bananapants.  I'm not sure I can say I liked this per se, but it was compelling, well-executed and heck, I lost an evening reading it.  That's the magic of Presents.

Final Grade = C


Whiskeyinthejar said...

I don't know how a magic who-ha is the least bananapants element of this story but it somehow is. The North Korea thing is something, how do you just casually throw that in there?? I need to work more HPs into my selections for a wake-up, romance re-set to break-up any same old same old feelings.

Wendy said...

My eyebrows might have hit the ceiling when I got to North Korea LOL

It's completely bananapants but I'll say this for it - it's a very well-executed HP. Collins can write the heck out of the category format...