Blue Ribbon Rating: 5 out of 5Original Review Link
Of the three Di Luca brothers, Rafe is the one who doesn’t want to stay put in their hometown in California’s wine country. But when his grandmother is attacked, security expert Rafe rushes home, intent on discovering her assailant’s identity. What he finds is that the attack was just the tip of the iceberg. A long-held secret in his family’s past has brought about new threats…and not just to the Di Luca family.
Brooke Petersson has been close to the Di Luca family ever since moving to Bella Valley as a teenager. But it was Rafe, in particular, who stole her heart all those years ago – and then broke it. Now she has to work with him to uncover the secrets lurking in Bella Terra, but being in constant contact with Rafe is hell on her nerves. The passion between them burns as hot as ever, yet even as she gives into the temptation that is Rafe, Brooke vows she’ll never again give her heart to him. Rafe seems equally determined to win her over, but with a dangerous enemy out to destroy everything the Di Lucas have built, Brooke and Rafe may not have a chance to find out if they’ll have a second shot at love.
Secrets and seduction make for a sinfully good read in SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA. The first book in Christina Dodd’s SCARLET DECEPTION series sizzles with passion, and Ms. Dodd keeps that hot blood pumping fast with a healthy dose of intrigue.
It was easy for me to become invested in Brooke and Rafe’s romance. Love has clearly never been a problem for them, but though they gave their hearts to one another at a young age, it’s clear they weren’t wholly ready for a forever kind of relationship until now. That doesn’t mean that Brooke simply falls into Rafe’s arms, no matter how fast the sparks between them fly. There’s a lot of past hurt to be dealt with as well as learning about the people they are now that has to occur. Ms. Dodd gives their relationship a wonderful sense of realism, which makes SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA even more engaging.
With the exception of the danger that the mystery of the SCARLET DECEPTION series brings about, the world of Bella Terra is lush and inviting; Ms. Dodd had me wanting to vacation at the Di Lucas’ resort. And speaking of the Di Lucas, the rest of the family was every bit as interesting as Brooke and Rafe. I adored Sarah, Rafe’s grandmother, sighed a bit over Noah, and holy mackerel, did the cliffhanger in SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA make me want Eli’s book! The only thing that disappointed me when I read SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA was that I finished it feeling upset that I did not have REVENGE AT BELLA TERRA on hand so I could keep reading.
I’ve loved Ms. Dodd’s books for over ten years and no matter what genre she writes in, Ms. Dodd wows me. SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA is an incredibly entertaining story that I’ll be re-reading many times over. In fact, I may just start a re-read right now. ;)
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies.