Author: Lou Watton
Series: Under the Uniform #4
Francesco Di Fiore is a handsome bellboy at a luxury Venetian Hotel. On an average day you can find him in a dashing burgundy uniform with sleek golden streaks. He is popular with guests of both sexes, who spoil him with lavish gifts. He is at ease with his colleagues, many of whom he has also got to know well. He loves his job and rarely leaves his hotel. His hotel is his cocoon that protects him from the elements outside. No wonder he feels no urge to venture out.
One night his life takes an unexpected turn and all because he decides to take time off and taste the world outside. He goes on a date, has a good time and finds himself too drunk to notice that his date has wandered off. When he sobers up, he is walking alone through the dark streets of Venice. He stops to watch passing gondolas, but sees something very different. He watches a man tightening a noose about his neck by a bridge down the canal. Francesco dashes through the labyrinth of narrow streets to get to the man just in time to save him. They fall down in each other arms on the cold stones by the canal. When Francesco opens his eyes, he realises that the turmoil in his life is not going to end here.
The stranger in Francesco’s arms is every bit as attractive as he is vulnerable. Francesco senses trouble. His protected life in a five star paradise is about to come to an end. He brings the stranger to his tiny loft room at the top floor of the hotel. The stranger’s name is Ralf and he is a full time artist and a makeshift poet. Francesco hears a story of a desperate heartbreak and feels unable to show his guest the door. They fall asleep together in his single bed. This is how their turbulent relationship begins.
Ralf settles in Francesco’s room and Francesco provides both the roof over his head and counselling. Soon neither of them can say whether Francesco’s sensitive care is the kindness of a stranger or the affection of a kindred spirit. They begin a passionate affair against the backdrop of the great city. They lose themselves in the web of narrow streets and snaking canals, caught in the whirl of their frenzied emotions. They divide their time between the splendour of Venetian palaces and a farmer’s hut on a rural island in the Venetian lagoon. Will Francesco’s lifestyle and temptations of high life destroy their volatile arrangement, or will Francesco Di Fiore once again rescue his troubled poet and whisk him away to a rustic paradise, where they could belong only to each other?
Have you been able to read the blurb? What a huge chunk of nothingness… OK. I have the mean mode ON. First of all, I have to say that I hate reading a book and then learning it was the fourth part of a book series. Granted is a saga of standalones that doesn’t share characters or universe, but yet… I consider myself a tidy reader. Always following the numbers forwards. It’s not a big deal, but I would have read the first one if I knew about it.
This book follows the story of Francesco, a bellboy in a luxury hotel. One day, he was walking after work and found a guy that was trying to commit suicide. That guy was Ralf, an artist going through a bad time after a break-up with his boyfriend. Francesco saved his life and took him to his room to take care of him. Quickly, that act of goodness turns into romance…
What did I like of this book? Maybe that it’s a very short one, so the torture doesn’t last long (even though feels like it). Everything else is meant to be forgotten as fast as possible. The book is bad. As simple as that. Francesco and Ralf are some of the most uncharismatic characters I have ever met and the story is SO boring. For a moment there I thought I was going to give up. I gave it a chance, but it doesn’t deserve it.
I don’t understand the behaviour of any of the characters. Francesco treats Ralf as a lost puppy with half the brain. He seems very concerned about his well-being and wants to be with him, but somehow he manages to ignore him and flirt with everyone in the hotel. Take a pick, man!! You can’t have both behaviours! They are mutually esclusive!! And Ralf… I need some kind of user manual to understand that guy… I get he is sad, but his reasons to end his life are weak. He is totally a spoiled guy, who wants to spend lots of money he doesn’t have. He has crazy jelousy attacks and has a really mean manipulative drive.
The romance between a guy who behaves like an overprotective daddy and a guy that is dangerously addicted to attention is a joke. One of the worst couples I have ever read in my life. Utterly unbelievable and that is saying something in the Romance genre… It is supposed to be a HEA book, but I don’t think they are going to last. Even the sex is weird. Not bad, but… I don’t know. I skimmed over it, because I didn’t like how it was being described.
The narration style is also rather poor. It’s not fluid at all and for such a short book it gets stuck in some loops. Keeping focus on the story was so hard… My mind was constantly drifting to other things, avoiding the slow paced and boring book I was forcing into it. There is no emotion. No sense of humor. Nothing… The blurb is actually a nice mirror of the whole boook… A bunch of letters that gets you nowhere…
I know many people have liked this book. I guess it’s not for me. In the future I will check more books by Lou Watton to see if this is her style or it’s just this book. Not anytime soon, though.