Year Published: 2013 - by London Wall Publishing.
Genres: Romance / Adult / Historical fiction.
Source: Thank you to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Set against the breathtaking beauty of Italy, The Echoes of Love is a passionate, heart-breaking romance to ignite the senses and rekindle your belief in the power of love. Seduction, passion and secrets... Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Venice to work in her godmother's architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone. Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can't help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them. When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia not only faces a beautiful young rival but also a sinister count and dark forces in the shadows, determined to come between them. Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo's carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?
I love the cover. Isn't it just gorgeous? The colour scheme, the ravishing tone it sets, the characters it hints at, are deliciously enticing.
But unfortunately I didn't love the story as much.
At first I liked the description. There were some lovely uses of language, and initially it did succeed at sweeping me away into Venetia's world. I loved some of the descriptive words Fielding used, and her detail was absolutely exquisite.
But the more I read, the more I couldn't bear it. It was overly flowery, purple prose, and the descriptions would go on for pages on end. The detail was incredible, but it was too much. In addition, it wasn't actually that vivid. I struggled to see through the flowery language to the scenes themselves, and it desperately needed to be simplified; it would have made for stronger scenes if the language had been more concise and simplified.
It was clear, however, that the author knew what she was talking about when it came to Venetian customs and lifestyle. Unfortunately, the prose cluttered that knowledge in overly flowery language that ultimately weakened each scene.
The dialogue wasn't great. It did nothing to show the individual characters or their personalities, and there was no subtext whatsoever. It also frequently felt unrealistic.
At first I quite liked Venetia. She seemed strong while still being vulnerable, but as the story progressed, she started acting silly and stereotypical. She was constantly hot and cold with Paolo, and her whole "cold, closed heart" attitude was nowhere near as strong as it could have been. For all her anger and distrust, she was very eager to be with Paolo and further their relationship. As for being stereotypical, she had no real faults and literally every man she knew was falling in love with her because she was so beautiful. I had no patience for that.
Paolo was not my kind of hero. He was the alpha male, the tall, dark and handsome brooder with a dark past, and he was a playboy. Again, that stereotype is something I can't stand. I have no patience for that kind of hero, and I was definitely not swooning over him.
I have to talk about the romance because this is a romance novel. Unfortunately, I didn't like that either.
The romance was based on constant lusting and desire and so called chemistry. Outside of those, the relationship was flat. Paolo and Venetia were constantly lusting after each other's bodies and making out, and they acted like "sex-crazed teenagers". It was silly and boring, and I wanted a relationship; instead, lust and desire took centre stage while relationship languished in the wings. And Paolo was a playboy! It was frequently mentioned that he'd slept with a lot of women, and yet Venetia didn't seem to mind that at all....
The plot was threadbare, and most of the scenes seemed like fillers. The description also slowed things down a lot. Paolo's secret I'd guessed a long time before the climax, but I'd tried to ignore it because it seemed so silly. When everything was revealed, it confirmed my suspicions and was silly and far-fetched. I also felt like it was minimised in the hurry to get the novel to its end.
(A quick pet peeve: I thought the exclamation marks were overused and frequently out of place.)
There was one other thing I had an issue with: this infuriatingly sexist last paragraph of the book.
(I'll let you see the problem for yourself).
'They were a man and woman in love. Hand in hand they would follow their silvery path and climb the steps to the moon; Paolo would cherish and protect her for as long as he lived, and Venetia would make a home for him, bear his children, and compensate for the years of misery he had been through.'
If you like alpha males and swooning damsels, exotic locations and passionate love-making, then The Echoes of Love is for you.
But I found the writing too purple, the characters too stereotypical and frustrating, and the romance too "appearance based".
Please Note: The sexual scenes were basically erotica. As a result, I skimmed most of them.