Originally posted on Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/reviews/Dec08/dantesinferno.EB.html
Returning to Venice after years abroad and at sea, Dante Valaresso’s goal is to restore his family’s palazzo. All that stands in the way of his plans is the dour widow Serena Alberenghi who lives on the palazzo’s upper floors.
Serena has lived a life of complete respectability. Yet one night she decides to take a chance and be reckless for one night. Venturing out at night during Carnival, Serena is swept off her feet by a masked stranger who mistakes her for a prostitute.
Dante is intrigued by the mysterious masked beauty and their erotic encounter leaves him wanting more. Though the lovely “Bella” insists she only wanted to experience one night of passion, Dante tempts her with the promise of pleasure too irresistible to pass up. “Bella” agrees, but only if their identities remain secret from one another.
As the lovers begin to fall for one another, the battle over the palazzo picks up. When their identities are revealed, can their love survive?
Dante’s Inferno starts with a deliciously wicked encounter between Dante and Serena. Inhibitions are shed during a wild Carnival night in a wonderfully captivating way. Evie Byrne definitely caught my attention with the first few pages. Unfortunately, my excitement over the story quickly waned. The problem I had with Dante’s Inferno was that I could not bring myself to like the characters. It isn’t that the Serena and Dante are “bad,” but rather that they lacked the depth of emotion to make me connect with them. Each at one point or another came off as shallow, slightly selfish, and needlessly obstinate without that extra layer that would allow me to see beyond such behavior. As such, I was not drawn into the story to root for Dante and Serena’s happiness, as I did not particularly care about the outcome of their romance.
This was Ms. Byrne’s debut novel, and despite not enjoying this particular book, I am interested in reading future works of hers. Ms. Byrne’s writing style is fluid and appealing, and she knows how to make love scenes sizzle. Sadly, when it comes to Dante’s Inferno, the hero and heroine’s unlikable natures prevented me from ever becoming engaged in the tale.