Dear Ms. Craven:
I’m never sure what to expect from you. On the whole, you are one of my favorite HP authors but from time to time, your stories send me over the cliff. I wasn’t sure how I was going to respond to this one.
The Santangeli Marriage begins with a scene from the hero’s point of view which is rare for an HP. Most HPs are told from the female point of view and in this manner builds suspense, uncertainty, and agnst over the outcome of the relationship, or at least the tumultuous path to the inevitable outcome.
Lorenzo Santangeli is struck with how precious life is when his father suffers a minor heart attack. Guillermo takes this emotionally vulnerable moment to press Lorenzo on the issue of his eight month separation from his wife Marisa and the need for a son and heir. Lorenzo admits that the parting with Marisa was bitter and not without regrets. Lorenzo tells his father
“If stupidity were all, I could live with it,” Renzo said with quiet bitterness. “But I was also unkind. And I cannot forgive myself for that.”
The decision to show Renzo’s point of view was vital in selling the remainder of the story for his actions toward Marisa continue to be unkind but not without provocation.
Marisa had a beau whom she thought she would marry when her aunt came to her with the news that she would be marrying Lorenzo Santangeli, the son of her mother’s best friend. When Marisa’s parents died, Santangeli’s undertook to provide financial care for her. This financial assistance supported Marisa and her cousins who became her guardians. Marisa’s marriage to Renzo would allow Marisa’s cousins to live in relative comfort for the remainder of their days.
While Marisa probably wouldn’t have married to save Cousin Julia, failure to marry Renzo would mean that handicapped Harry would not have the necessary care that he needed to live a decent life. Marisa put aside her beau reluctantly but harbored deep resentment toward Renzo. This led her to humiliate him in front of his family and to create a deep rift between them as the marriage continued.
Renzo did not help the matters. His pride was deeply wounded on his wedding day and his bride’s cutting words and seeming lack of desire for him, cut him even further. He reacted poorly and at one point the couple share a heartless sexual coupling. This leads to misunderstandings, personal recriminations, and ultimately separation with Renzo in Italy and Marisa returning to London.
This marriage in trouble story takes pains to show both parties equally at fault for the failure of the relationship. Renzo is aloof and holds his pride above affection. Marisa stabs angrily with her words creating further gulfs between the two with her defensiveness and insecurities.
Much of the story is told in flashbacks, unfolding the time leading up to their marriage and their separation. It is clear that the two love each other because without that emotion, could they have ever wrought such pain one upon the other?
For an HP, this one is pretty good with some caveats. The emotionless sex scene made me feel uncomfortable. Renzo has a mistress while Marisa and he are separated but as Marisa had left him, refused to open his letters, or respond to his phone calls, but instead made it clear that she wanted no contact at all, Renzo’s activity with another woman seemed understandable. However, I know that these can be deal breakers for some readers. The story delivered exactly what you would expect from a good Harlequin Presents and that is an emotional, angsty read. It also gets a thumbs up for the lack of a baby filled epilogue or ending. B
This book can be purchased in mass market from an independent bookstore in mid-June or ebook format from the Harlequin right now because Harlequin sells all its category books in digital form one month before the release date.