The Secrets of Villa Rosso by Linn B Halton
Some places stay with you forever…
When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she’s reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn’t prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate’s director Max Jackson, or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso.
It’s not long before Ellie finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. As their relationship grows, what will Ellie discover about this idyllic villa and those who have walked through its doors?
What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie’s life forever.
Let me say up front that this is a lovely story about soul mates. relationships, and the eternity of love.
The author’s loquacious style, combined with the restating at various junctures of the soul-mate status of Ellie and Josh’s relationship, made this book difficult for me to settle into. I’ve never suffered from homesickness, and I’m married to a (now retired) military man, so the sort of wobbling and faintheartedness about being separated that Ellie and Josh display, had no room in our lives. I was irritated by Ellie’s bleating about leaving home, nervous I can understand but she was more fearful than that. I get that she had never travelled alone before, but she was about to make some major business decisions, so these two aspects did not balance for me.
Equally, Josh is a lovely man, but telling her on the one hand that she was more than capable of the task in hand, and then fussing about her being gone, missing her, and wanting her home, undermined that. And don’t get me going about the daughters, and who would take them to wherever they needed to be. At various stages I was given to growling ‘your bloody husband’, ‘get a grip’, and other remarks I shan’t publish.
We start with Ellie and Josh’s 19th wedding anniversary, hosted by Ellie’s friend and boss Livvie. At a certain point in the party, Ellie picks up a crystal ball and an image appears to her. We are told by Livvie that since she bought it no-one has ever seen anything in it, although it was supposed to belong to a famous medium. She declares it broken. Ellie says nothing. This is the first hint of the paranormal. We walk through the courtship and 19 year marriage, the arrival of children, and Ellie as homemaker. They have a lovely life, and it all sounds so delightful, domestic, and happy. The unexpected turn comes when Ellie has to take Livvie’s place on an important business trip to Italy. Here she meets Max, and they have an instant rapport.
What this book does encompass and handles beautifully, is how relationships mould and shape us, how we make relationships, and how the situations they create impact on everyone involved; husband and wife, mother and daughter, man and woman. It embraces that strange phenomena of deja-vu, of the sensation that we know someone we’re meeting for the first time, of familiarity, of connection. It’s a very interesting subject, and these feelings can be negative as well as positive. The mystical element that twists and curves its way from the beginning, directs the latter half of the book and gives the tale an appealing and edgy fascination.
Ellie is a lovable character with the ability to charm and irritate in equal measure. Yet as the story progresses, she gains in confidence and strength, and Josh senses this. As she struggles with her emotions, her character deepens, and she emerges from that ‘little housewife’ shell, into a more self-assured woman. This is when we see what I believe is the real Ellie, the one that was hiding under the surface all along. She is only going to be gone a few days, but Josh reminds her often that the family isn’t the same without her. He clearly loves and cherishes his wife and family, and on the surface Ellie leans on him for love, support, and friendship. With other people, even her friend Livvie, she holds something back, yet underneath that veneer is the very strong impression that within their relationship, even if they are soul-mates, Josh is the less emotionally robust of the two. Sub-consciously, I believe Ellie has known this all along, has bolstered his ego, and happily fits everything into the comfortable world they have created for themselves. This is not a negative quality; Ellie is very much the glue that holds them all together, including Livvie, and Josh and their daughters recognise this.
Max is a charming man that life has dealt with unevenly. He and Ellie are deeply and mystically coupled, yet like Ellie, he is bound by the commitments he has made, as well as his love and affection for the people in his life. He deserves so much, yet the heartbreak is that no matter what you deserve, it means nothing.
Whilst this wasn’t a book for me, I can heartily recommend it to others. It’s a great story, and if you don’t mind a verbose style, you’ll love it.
Hovering around the 3.5+ star mark. Read and enjoy.
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From interior designer to author, Linn – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’
Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Harper Impulse (Harper Collins) and Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.
When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.
Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.
Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.
Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.
Social Media Links –
Read chapter one from each of Linn & Lucy’s novels: Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
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