The Florentine Treasure

Author: Rowan Speedwell
Cover artist: Catt Ford
Genre: Historical/Contemporary/Time travel/Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Length:72 pages
Amazon: The Florentine Treasure

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: This well researched trip to Renaissance Florence made me wish for the longer novel with these two guys.


Art history professor Daniel Wollek is delighted to assist the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in cataloguing a cache of Renaissance artworks uncovered by an earthquake. But when a second earthquake pitches him headlong into the fifteenth century, Daniel finds himself more involved than he expected in rescuing precious artifacts from a fanatic’s bonfires. Then he meets Leonardo di Vinci’s assistant, Giacopo di Careggi, and finds in the beautiful young model a treasure even greater than art from the past


Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael Santi, Michellandgelo all those names of  famous Renaissance artists have  some sentimental value for me. My father loved art and  Renaissance artists were the first ones whose works he showed to me in the books he loved to buy when I was quite young. I don’t mean that he was giving me art history lessons – he was just showing the illustrations from art albums and telling me basically look, look how beautiful these pictures are and I guess something  left a lasting impression on me. When I saw that the blurb for this story has  Leonardo’s name in it and that Rowan Speedwell wrote it, I was sold already.  I also love time travel, so I was very eager and excited to read it.Overall  I liked it, although I have to say again that I wish Insta!Love would be less instant in many novellas I have read lately, including this one.

First and foremost as you could see that there is a time travel involved, so beware that you have to suspend you disbelief as to that part. I have read the stories which explore time travel in deeper details, exploring the paradoxes, changes in history, etc, etc, but I was fully aware of the fact that Dreamspinner collection would use the time travel first and foremost to showcase romance and I was totally fine and expected it in this story.  Notwithstanding the time travel part, I still wanted to see well researched settings and just for fun checked some random facts and names which turned out to be exactly as story describes them. I am still curious though whether Giacopo di Careggi himself was a fictional character or not – Google came up with some Italian texts which may have had his name, but it could be just the name of the Villa di Careggi. I think in my mind I would think of him as fictional character, because otherwise the suspension of disbelief may become a bit too hard to swallow for me.

The romance was, well, sweet, but way way way too Insta! for me, at least from one of the guys (You have to read to find out why the other guy may have had time to develop a crush before they met ;)). If you could swallow the Insta! part, it was sweet and tender, I liked Daniel and Giacopo very much, but I wish I could read a novel about them, I really do, because I wanted to get to know them better. Their interactions felt sweet and genuine, if you could swallow the initial instant attraction from one of the guys, you will probably enjoy it, I know I did and I had a problem with Insta! attraction. I liked how the fact that one of the guys who is ordinary looking gets a confirmation even through the eyes of other person, but what he does notice seems so much more beautiful than the appearance alone. I really wish these two were the characters in a longer written work, because what was there on page was just so very not enough for me.

I also want to note that while as I said above I really enjoy the time travel device, if done well and liked the first time it happens in the story, a second time travel just felt as way too convenient deuce ex machina.

If you enjoy Rowan Speedwell’s writing as much as I do, I would still recommend this story, just beware of the possible limitations, if your reading tastes are close enough to mine.


  • Thanks for the review Sirius – your tastes are often similar to mine and as I really love the Renaissance I think I will buy this book even with the caveats you give 😀

    • I think you may enjoy this one Leslie if caveats wont bother you a lot. Please let me know either way :)

  • Thank you so much Naaju, this is fascinating. Andrea Salai is briefly mentioned in the story as one of Leonardo’s apprentices – I did google him since I never heard if him before just to find out if he was a real historical figure, but nothing else, so thank you again.

  • Hello, everyone! Interesting book and great review, Sirius. The Renaissance is my favorite history period. The drawing in the cover was what drew me in to read the review because I thought it was a Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing, and the model, his assistant Gian Giacomo Caprotti, or Salai, as Leonardo called him, which means little devil. So, even if the author didn’t use Salai’s real name, maybe there is some inspiration in his character.
    I’ve been fascinated by him since I first learned of Leonardo and Salai’s relationship many years ago. Leonardo had two long living companions, Salai was the first one, who stayed with him for more than thirty years, in spite of his flaw character, the young man was beautiful but a scoundrel. The second one was the Count Francesco Melzi, who we should thank for preserving Leonardo’s legacy.
    At his death, Da Vinci willed Salai the Mona Lisa among other properties. BTW, the two paintings the maestro carried with him everywhere, were that one and John the Baptist. The last one, no doubt Salai’s posed for it, the Mona Lisa is rumored to be a portrait of him too. If you google his name you can see how he looked like. Gian Giacomo Caprotti was also a painter. Indeed, I remember looking at his artwork and wondering if some of it was attributed to Leonardo or vice versa, it’s hard to tell who drew what.

  • Great review, though unfortunately one that makes me less inclined to read the book. :smile: It sounds like it has great potential, but I really hate insta-love, and the second time travel to conveniently solve all… well, those don’t sound so appealing. I think this is ending up solidly on my “maybe” shelf. :thinker:

    • I really really loved pretty much everything this writer wrote, especially Kindred Hearts. Have you tried it? This one was okay too, but yeah, Insta was very Insta.

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