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Monday, February 6, 2012

Once a Ferrara Wife… by Sarah Morgan

Once a Ferrara Wife… by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (187 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Laurel Ferrara wouldn't know a happy ending if she fell over it—of course her whirlwind wedding was always going to end in disaster. But it wasn't as simple as just walking away. From the moment she is summoned back to Sicily, the shivers of unease set in….

The command comes from legendary billionaire Cristiano Ferrara, the husband she can't forget—but it might as well have come from the devil himself. The outrageously gorgeous Cristiano's power is a potent reminder of this Sicilian dynasty's unbreakable rule: once a Ferrara wife, always a Ferrara wife….

This is a romance that’s a real nail-biter. It comes from not knowing who is going to say the one thing that will get these two emotionally bruised lovers to finally be truthful to the other. The author chose the most diametrically opposed people to fall in love; he’s uber-rich and commanding, she’s hard-driven, independent and trusts no one – with good reason. Really dramatic and heart breaking good reasons.

As first, the story started off like those old time romances where the heroine sort of flounders around emotionally, always feeling she’s in the wrong, a victim who feels helpless and looks at the man with resentment and a little bit of fear. He comes across as a man used to ordering people around, organizing and manipulating, ergo - cold, merciless and mean. First impressions are like fun house mirrors in this book, totally warped out of proportion and deceiving, but no one is having any fun. The truth knocked me for a loop. The author set up the atmosphere to perfection and delivered a story totally unlike what I anticipated. It made what came after truly joyous and a celebration of life. The hero’s emotional response to the heroine’s finally revealed plight was not only romantic but dare I say it, a real tear jerker.

This is a terrific character driven tale because once Ms. Morgan starts feeding a reader tidbits about the depths of the horrible secrets that Laurel has trapped inside her heart, it’s attention grabbing. Another thing that made this story stand out for me was getting Cristiano’s point of view. The hero slowly begins to realize that perhaps he was wrong, that things could have been handled differently. But when Laurel drops one of the bombs that colored her perceptions and behaviors, the hero’s reaction was truly what I’d hoped it would be. Better, in fact. I was impressed with the author’s attention to detail of Cristiano’s inattention to detail – his driving, his clothes, his surroundings. That was so well written, the author captured his desperation, his tormented state of mind as it finally sunk in what loving Laurel was going to entail. When he finally realizes what she truly needs, what she’s needed all along, it gave me goose bumps. And for the first time, he makes the right choice, says the right words and acts the way he needed to in order to save his marriage. Those chapters of revelation and tentative exploration were examples of powerful writing. I was committed to Cristiano and Laurel’s reconciliation.

The editing was perfect. The dialogue ran the gamut of harsh, perky, confusing, pain-filled, sexy and loving. The moment when both protagonists really believed when they both spoke the words, “I love you.” was one of the best moments in the book. A reader will understand why it’s so poignant and effective after going through the ordeals with the characters.

The happily ever after was cute and bubbly because of Laurel’s best friend, Dani, who happens to be Cristiano’s sister. Dani was like a bouncy puppy with a Polly-Anna attitude. Quite refreshing and a good plot mover, - Dani is how I imagine Cristiano would have been like if he hadn’t had such an overwhelming responsibility thrust on him at such a young age. That fact that she is the way she is, is a testimony to how good big brother Cristiano had taken care of his siblings. The ending also had a wonderful and warm wrap up. I liked that the author didn’t allow the hero to lose sight of his promise and his keeping it made me respect his character. Not to mention it proved to me that he really was a changed man. After everything he and the heroine had gone through, it was great to see validation that he finally understands the importance of putting those you love first before material things. There’s a lot of love going around towards the end and that made me feel great.

Once a Ferrara Wife… is a classic romance with a powerful zing. I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough to get to the part when they finally revealed all. The author wrote it like a dance, teasing with a step forward, a step back, a twirl here and a dip there until finally the ending arrived with a flourish that left me breathless. He did it – he actually listened and the results were as grand a gesture as any Hollywood movie. I loved the dramatic entrance and the tender actions afterwards. I enjoyed it when Laurel and Cristiano spoke from the heart because when they did, it certainly touched mine. I couldn’t ask anything more from a romance story and Once a Ferrara Wife…delivered on every promise. Only by picking up a copy will readers know what I mean. It’s worth it.