Title: Venetian Masks
Author: Kim Fielding
Cover artist: Shobana Apavu
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon: Buy Link Venetian Masks
Genre: contemporary romance/suspense
Length: 216 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This was a nicely paced well written story, unfortunately one of the main characters lost his brains early in the story and as far as I was concerned never found them again – all in the name of true love. If you would be able to suspend disbelief and brush off his actions in the name of true love and if you do not mind a lot of description of scenery, you will probably enjoy this story much more than I did.
Jeff Dawkins’s last partner left him with a mortgage he can’t afford and nonrefundable tickets for a month’s vacation in Europe. Despite a reluctance to travel, Jeff decides to go on the trip anyway. After all, he’s already paid for it. He packs a Kindle loaded with gay romance novels and arrives in Venice full of trepidation. There he meets the handsome and charming expat Cleve Prieto, who offers to serve as his tour guide. Jeff has serious misgivings—he wasn’t born yesterday, and something about Cleve doesn’t sit right—but anything is better than wandering the canals alone. With Cleve’s help, Jeff falls in love with Venice and begins to reconcile with his past. For the first time, Jeff finds himself developing strong feelings for someone else. But he can’t be sure who that person is because Cleve’s background remains a mystery embroidered with lies.
Then a dark figure from Cleve’s past appears, and Jeff must choose whether to let Cleve flee alone or to join him on a desperate run through central Europe. Maybe Jeff will finally be able to see behind Cleve’s masks—if he survives the journey.
It would have been so *easy* to like this story. There is a fast attraction between the characters, but while love comes fast too, at least it does not come the very second they met. The writing has a nice, pleasant flow, and even when I was reading what I thought was a filler scenery description (more on this later) I felt like I was there.
The writing in this story did not disappoint me at all besides Jeff’s characterization and I fully realize that I have read stories where I may have waved off characters doing stranger things than Jeff does in this story. Unfortunately we do not always get to be consistent as to how we react to fictional characters and in this specific story I found his actions to be too much for me to swallow. That impaired my enjoyment of this story very significantly.
The blurb gives you a very nice summary of the story, but I want to elaborate a little more on Jeff meeting Cleve, because this is where he lost his brains in my opinion and proceeded further in the story without those.
I want to ask you, what would you do if you met a handsome stranger on your vacation in Venice, where you were supposed to go with your partner who left you? What would you do if you saw right away that the stories such stranger tells you do not add up and you caught him lying to you about his background more than once? Would you for example agree to hire that stranger to be your paid tour guide for your remaining stay in Venice? Jeff decided to do exactly that and here is why:
“He should refuse – that was the safe and rational thing to do. But dammit, Cleve was so fucking handsome and, he had to face it, Jeff was lonely”.
When said guide steals your money and credit card and run away with it, would you call your credit card company immediately and cancel your card? To be fair to our Jeff that thought entered his head, but it left just as fast as entered.
To make a long story short if you are fine with a character behaving like this in the name of love, you may like this book. I was not fine, I was very annoyed.
And the ironic thing was that I could not even get annoyed at Cleve. He was your typical character who makes questionable choices because of a bad past, but nothing that could not be redeemed by true love. His actions made sense to me in the land of romance. Unfortunately I could not get past Jeff’s.
The other issue I had with this story is that there are pages and pages where nothing happens, but the settings are described in great detail. Do not get me wrong, I like nicely described settings, and Venice is by definition a great setting for a developing romance, but there was *a lot* of travelocity in this story. Unfortunately it often felt like a filler rather than a background for the story.
On more dispassionate level I should probably recommend this story, but only if you are not bothered by the issues I described.