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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Wine Seekers by Linda Bilodeau

The Wine Seekers by Linda Bilodeau
Publisher: Highland Press
Genre: Contemporary; Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (268 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Bluebell

A shattered dream, a guarded family secret, and forbidden love take Nicola Romolo on a perilous quest to reclaim his family's fortune. Before dying, Nicola's father reveals a long held family secret.

But Nicola's dream of claiming their family's wealth is shattered when his secret love affair with his boss' daughter is discovered. After losing his job, Nicola moves to Naples, Italy where he accidentally kills the local Don's brother-in-law.

With his future at stake, he must find the truth about his family's past or forever forfeit any hope of winning the woman he loves and owning a vineyard.

Borrowing a page from William Shakespeare, Bilodeau begins her broad sweeping story nestled in the vineyards of old Italy with a clandestine meeting between Nicola Romolo, the poor tenant farmer of the Tuscany vineyards, and Gianna Silvano, the daughter of the owner. Their long standing love is not to be broken despite the twist of fate that involve the Mafia, marriage to others, and distance. This tale will keep the reader coming back to see what fate has in store for them and the author skillfully does not reveal to the very last chapter.

When reading, you can hear the strains of the theme song from The Godfather echoing in your mind as the story spirals from one pivotal point to the next. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Tuscan, but I wish the story could have been stretched a bit more. The author was very ambitious weaving multiple plots throughout the manuscript when each could have been its own story. One of my favorite scenes involves Nicola’s introduction into the Mafia where he is forced to choose a glass of wine to drink. One contains grappa, the other he is told contains poison. This is one of the finer scenes.

As the story moves along, life takes some interesting turns. Some, such as the wife being left in a convent while the husband goes off, left me wondering what angle the writer was trying to achieve. Or the fact that lung cancer could be identified so quickly on Ellis Island at the beginning of the 1900s. I suppose the use of x-ray was available, but it was diagnosed so quickly. This nagged me a bit. A small bother on my part-- I was thinking perhaps consumption. But I read on. I was glad that Maria became more of a three dimensional character toward the end of the story. Again the author worked very hard even with some rather weak dialogue at times.

Would I recommend this story? Certainly. The epic proportions have a grand feel much like a Mario Puzia. I do wish it had been lengthened some; I feel as if in editing some sections were tightened so much they lost meaning. But the central characters Nicola and Gianna are the driving force of this novel that keep you coming back to make sure their lives are not wasted. Would I pick up another novel from Ms. Bilodeau? Yes, I would, knowing she will at least ensure a good read.