A Venetian Affair by Dana Mitchell

Published by Destiny Romance, Penguin’s digital line

Published March 15 2013

I rated this book 3.5/5 – just falling short of a 4/5

GoodReads Synopsis: 

When cool, reserved Helene Stoddart dons a mask in magical Venice, it changes her life forever. Her identity protected, she succumbs to a night of wild lovemaking with gorgeous Italian, Gabriel Venier. Convinced she’ll never see Gabriel again, Helen returns home to Australia, where an old family scandal sees her hunted by the paparazzi. Then Gabriel arrives, looking for the mystery woman he can’t forget. But the Helen he encounters is withdrawn, arctic, nothing like the gorgeous, sensual woman seared into his memory. Despite Helen’s reluctance, Gabriel makes time for them to get to know each other, and for slow, delicious seduction …

A Venetian Affair is a quick feel good romance about a one-night-stand gone wrong. Unsatisfied with the way things ended (or simply because they did end) Gabriel Venier is determined to track down the beauty that shared his bed and left with his heart. Being the CEO of an international bank means he has the money and services at his disposal in order to track her down, and yet still his private investigator struggles to find the object of his affection. It isn’t until Venier learns some unsettling news about the hiring of a female accountant with some questionable family history at the Sydney branch of the bank that Gabriel makes any headway with his search. For low and behold, the female accountant with the questionable criminal history just so happens to be Hellen Stoddart, our female protagonist and Gabriel’s one night lover.

What I loved about this narrative was the romantic and exotic location that it opened with. From the very first sentence I was immersed in the narrative and completely drawn into the world of Helen Stoddart and Gabriel Venier.  I was intrigued by the standoffish nature of Helen’s character and eager to find out what her back-story was.  Gabriel Venier on the other hand confused me slightly, but it was nothing I couldn’t over look. He was over bearing in what I guess was implied in a gentle and loving way because he was simply used to getting his own way. I was keen to see what would happen, and the way in which our characters were going to connect (Helene initially refused Gabriel each night she sang).  While I appreciated and enjoyed Gabriel’s knight-in-shining armour rescue of Helen from the robbers, I wasn’t completely convinced at the same time. The fact that he was simply just there, following her seemed stalker-ish and as though something Helene should have flagged especially with her history. Furthermore the way in which Gabriel simply took over the scene was once more over powering, but also unrealistic as the police weren’t really involved and didn’t seem to do much. Once again, I recognise this as a plot device and was willing to over look it. What did bother me however, was the way in which when our characters fled back to Sydney, so did a lot of the intrigue and mystery and romance of the setting. Which was a shame, because I really enjoyed the setting of Venice.

Overall the narrative has a great feel to the book. And I commend Mitchell’s on her ability to create such a cold and complex character who you could both identity with and feel for at the same time. For while Helene is on a big self discovery trip as guided and forced by Gabriel, she comes across as very cold. Gone is the intrigue of her character as we see the juxtaposition of the warm and free Helene in Venice, to the sad and closed off Helene Stoddart in Sydney. A common complaint from characters in the narrative was how blank, cold and closed off Helene is. She lets no body in and gives nothing away. Gabriel through an arranged blackmail scene forces Helene to open up, to accept life and see the world once more. He brings her back to life in many ways, and I was very much relieved when she began to open up once more, giving back her character a personality and life once more. I really enjoyed the Helene at the beginning of the narrative, even if she was still guarded and sceptical, and I felt mistrusted with the cold and closed of Helene from the middle of the narrative. I wanted more from her character, and thankfully through her interactions with Gabriel we were able to glimpse that again. As a male protagonist, Gabriel didn’t do much for me, but I did love his relationship with Helene and the way in which he coached out her insecurities and personality. That aspect of the book was very well done and in many ways I wish it had continued a bit longer because of that.

Overall A Venetian Affair is a feel good romance, that avid romance readers are bound to enjoy. It’s a quick read that leaves you feeling satisfied – Anne Gracie would be proud, as no one dies…and there is a happy ending.

Many thanks to the Publisher and Net Galley for the e-copy I received to review.

This book was read as part of the Australian Women’s Writer’s Challenge 2013

And as part of the Romance Appreciation Challenge 2013

A Venetian Affair by Dana Mitchell is released on March 15 2013 and can be found via Penguin’s Destiny Romance website

This Review will also appear on Goodreads and can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/553536928 

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