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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Forbidden Ferrara by Sarah Morgan

The Forbidden Ferrara by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (185 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A Ferrara should never share a bed with a Baracchi—however high the stakes!

Dark-hearted Santino Ferrara has always remembered how long-legged, hot-tempered Fia Baracchi felt in his arms—much to his frustration. Then a million-dollar business deal throws them together, and keeping his distance is no longer an option.

But Fia is living a lie. If it's ever discovered that her precious little son is Santino's heir, she'll be disowned—their families' feud is legendary! But her real fear? That she can't forget the scorching memories of her one night with the enemy—and that she still craves more.…

I thought that Cristiano was a tough nut to crack but his brother, Santo has a more challenging situation to deal with in The Forbidden Ferrara as readers are treated to an unusual spin in this engaging romance. You know the old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side”? In this story it’s the truth and the conflict is compelling and fascinating.

Imagine a woman who yearns for a family life filled with love, affection and unconditional support. What she grew up with was pure dysfunction at its harshest; add in a poisonous feud between that perfect family and her own and readers will find a woman worth reading about. Fia’s strength of character comes through by her determination and focus in breaking the toxic shackles that bind her. She has reasons for her single minded pursuit of her ideal life and it becomes all too clear when both protagonists are together.

The way Santo is written fascinated me. At first, it was all about him; his feelings, his interpretations and how he justified his resulting actions. He feels strongly, passionately and hotly and yet he’s a man to be respected because no matter how livid he became, he remained rational, in control and never struck out in a physically vicious manner. He does have a sharp tongue though. I suppose calling him rational may be giving him too much credit. He's gobsmacked in this story and watching him transition from 100% business to 100% personal was quite fun. Then the author has him transitioning to seeing the other side of the coin and, being the man he is, he admitted his fallibility – sort of. It’s amazing how men of wealth and power can take a messy situation and iron it out with authority. Oh, to have that kind of chutzpah.

Ms. Morgan allows a reader to be in both Fia and Santo’s heads, and through their internal dialogues I was able to see how their relationship changed from viewing each other as adversaries to accomplices. It wasn’t an easy road to traverse because there are a few presumptions, assumptions and a lot of hard feelings to work through. The author made their emotional conflict believable and relatable. Certainly, the impetus for their forced collaboration was powerful and very dramatic. Yet, for all the heartache, uncertainty and mixed-up communication, their physical attraction could not be denied. That was made very clear to me. Their bodies knew what their minds could not accept. At least, not until all the clutter from that ages old family squabble gets sorted out. How that happens was not only a surprise for me, but a shock to Fia, the heroine. It was one of the nicest surprises in the story and I liked the twist.

It’s not all strife and stress. At times Santo is delightful as a puppy, eager to please and so excited … well, excited puppies have accidents. Over eager men make blunders and gaffs of epic proportions and Santo, the shark of a businessman, gets a ‘goober’ award for some of his choices. He alternates between being wonderful and romantic to being a clueless male. Very fun to watch.

The most romantic element came from making a dream come true. This isn’t a fairy tale so it wasn’t a simple, magical fix. It was messy, volatile and had many ups and downs but the ultimate payoff made reading this story worth every flip of the page. I even enjoyed the brief cameos of Dani, Santo’s sister and his older brother, Cristiano. This book is a standalone read, but since I read the previous one, it was nice to see how the other couple was doing – like a love check-up.

The Forbidden Ferrara once again illustrates why Ms. Morgan is one of my favorite authors. She writes about people that feel, that triumph over seemingly impossible odds, and celebrates the joys of new-found love. It’s a spicy sweet romance with thorns that kept me glued to its pages until the final love-filled moments. It’s an enjoyable read.

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