A Novel Chatter Reading Roundup Book Review, a few well chosen words about books that I don't want you to miss...
by Rosanna Chiofalo
Kensington Press, 304 pages
Blurb from the publisher: In this warm, enchanting debut novel, Rosanna Chiofalo evokes the extraordinary beauty of Venice, the charm of a close-knit New York neighborhood, and the joys of friendship, family, and surprising second chances. . .
Valentina DeLuca has made hundreds of brides' dreams come true. At Sposa Rosa, the Astoria, New York, boutique where she, her sisters, and their mother design and sew couture knock-off gowns, she can find the perfect style for even the most demanding customer. Now, it's her turn. Valentina has loved Michael Carello ever since he rescued her from a cranky shopkeeper when she was ten years old. He's handsome, chivalrous, and loyal. And in a few weeks, she's going to marry him--in Venice.
But just when she thinks everything is falling into place, Valentina is forced to re-examine her life to see what truly makes her happy. And as she soon learns, in a place as magical as Venice, what seems like misfortune can turn out to be anything but, although who knows what may be waiting around the next corner? The chance to enjoy a moonlit gondola ride, to sip Prosecco in St. Mark's Square, to eat mouthwatering gelato, to put aside "sensible" for once and see where the warm Italian breezes guide her as she visits all the sights she's dreamed of: The Doge's Palace, Il Rialto, the little islands of Murano and Burano. And maybe, along the way, to discover that bella fortuna--good luck--isn't what you're given, but what you make.
My "Reading Roundup Reviews" are quick and to the point, so that being said, I enjoyed Bella Fortuna. I could identify with the characters and loved the interactions and close bonds that author Rosanna Chiofalo drew from the neighborhood "regulars." We all know the type, the people who have lived on your block, or around the corner for ever. I swear, I grew up next door to the DeLuca family, so I wanted to like this family and this story. Valentina is pretty well crafted, you understand where she's coming from and what's going though her mind, so much so, that you want to slap her upside the head at times, and make her see what the reader knows will happen. And that's where I have some issues. sigh.... I don't want to second guess why, but the plot was so telegraphed to the readers so far in advance that I wanted to slap the author (no, maybe her editor) upside the head.
I enjoyed the bridal design salon setting and hoped it would/might become a series. I loved it when Valentina takes her "honeymoon" by herself and has a blast in Venice on her own. The great parts of this book reminded me of classic Katharine Hepburn films, or classic 1960's "career" girls travel to Italy for romance kinds of films, and that's not a bad thing. Chiofalo has the chops to write, she can construct an interesting story and fun characters that live and exist in modern time, with a nod to the classic heroine! Ready to live life on her own, BUT, to be open to any opportunity for love and family.
Where it went wrong? I think...poor editing!!! I sometimes thought the dialogue was awkward. When you read a line out loud and it sounds "weird" ? It needs a re-write, I also think it took us too long to get to the adventure part of Valentina's story. I was interesting in the character and wanted to experience her trip, but I got a bit frustrated along the way, as I think too much time and word count went to back stories of characters that didn't move the story arc along. This is the second or third book I've read lately where the ending just wound up too dang fast.
My final "roundup" thoughts, buy the book, read it, enjoy it, have a glass of Montepulciano and some pasta and ignore the small glitches. Valentina's fun, and I'd like to see where she ends up next!
3 1/2 out of 5 stars! I took off for the poor editing and too many non-essential secondary characters.
**This e-galley was provided to be by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.