I thrive on a continuing story. I want to know what happens to the secondary characters – I also want to know what I missed in the first book. Just a few of the reasons I absolutely love reading a continuing storyline.
Often times a trilogy or series starts off with a blast of excitement – others unfurl like a slowly blooming leaf. Secrets of Bella Terra was a very slowly opening blossom (one I almost gave up on, except I’ve been trained by a bookaholic mother to read the whole story before reaching a conclusion!).
At its very core, Secrets of Bella Terra is about history – family history, the history of lovers and the history of a lifelong family feud fed by bitterness.
Rafe Di Lucas and Brooke Petersson have a past history. One forged in childhood and continued throughout early adulthood – unfortunately, Brooke ended up always being the one left behind as Rafe took off around the world. His reasons were valid – to him. Her reasons to stay and wait were all that mattered to her, even as she convinced herself that she was not waiting for anything except her next vacation.
Now Rafe has returned to Bella Terra. The past has a way of traveling along the history of a family – and the Di Lucas family is no different. The family matriarch, Sarah Di Lucas or “Nonna” has been attacked in her home as an intruder searched for something specific. Nonna understands that it is all starting over again – feuds never, ever truly die.
In California wine country, the story of the Di Lucas brothers unfolds in bits and pieces of history, family feuds and secrets everywhere. Murder, suspense, the unusual suspects abound and if Rafe handles it right – love will prevail.
The beginning of the story of the Di Lucas family is slow moving. I think that we’ve expected faster starts to Christina Dodd’s novels than this one gave us. For those that did close the book mid-story, the family history given in the beginning explains the ending(s) with more logic and passion than might otherwise have happened. Still, the story could have moved faster for me too.
I ended up liking the couple – Brooke more than Rafe, actually – and Nonna a whole lot more than any of them. Considering that Brooke and Rafe had a history, that eventually brings them to their feelings for each other, the round-about telling style worked for me.
Secrets of Bella Terra is not going to be my most favorite novel by Christina Dodd, but it is a good opening to an ongoing series (or trilogy).
I’m glad I kept reading ’til the end.
Secrets of Bella Terra is available at Amazon and on Kindle