CBR 14 Bingo: Hot
We are on the Italian Riviera in high summer, and the characters lavish in beach days and garden parties.
Bella Ainsworth has just opened her hotel in Portofino, but she is already facing trouble – unruly guests, blackmail, and some business about a Rubens…
This was my second stab at this book. I received an audiobook ARC originally, but I found it could not keep my attention so I went with an ebook for the library instead and it coasted by fast enough. Normally I like soapy stories, but it’s got to be the kind of drama that engages you, and this, unfortunately, wasn’t it.
The writing was facile and created a great sense of place, though not really time. I liked the diversity of this book, and the way the author engaged with themes of class and race through the interactions of the characters. I also liked how many of the women in the book uplifted each other, especially when so many of the men were rather lacking in heart. I saw a lot of complaints about the size of the cast, but I thought the author did a good job juggling them, and I could tell them apart readily.
However, the plot of the story was definitely a let-down. There’s lots of little dramas, mysteries, and romances going on – but for the most part I found them deeply boring. I was not interested in Lucien’s romances, the dysfunctional nature of the Ainsworth marriage, the business of the Rubens. The plot of Nish and the anti-fascists felt shoehorned in as a nod to the era. And some parts of the story just felt odd, like Bella’s affair and Alice’s religious fanaticism. I couldn’t help but think that Alice was deeply unwell, the way her perspective sounded, yet this was never resolved.
In a lot of ways, this book felt more like the first season of a soap than a book, which I suppose works because this book was indeed made into a show. The trouble is that I don’t much watch TV.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.