Date published: August 2011
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained by Publisher
Brooke Petersson has made a good life for herself in Bella Terra. Okay, maybe stable is a better word and that’s okay. After moving to the grape rich valley with her mother the 11 year old Brooke felt awkward and out of place until dark haired, blue eyed Rafe Di Luca took her under wing. Despite the two year difference in their ages, Brooke and Rafe became best friends and in time fell in love. And then Rafe broke Brooke’s heart. Not once or twice, but over and over, each time he left the valley, her heart broke a little more. And then Rafe came home again.
This time it wasn’t for a happy family reunion. Not when Rafe’s beloved grandmother, Sarah has been attacked in her own home. Along with his brothers Eli and Noah, Rafe takes on finding out who assaulted the older woman and destroyed the security of their family home. Within a short time of his arrival Rafe enlists Brooke’s aid to find the attacker. Brooke is none to happy at finding herself once again involved with Rafe, but for Sarah and the fact she knows the Di Luca family resort as well as the brothers, she agrees.
Bit by bit the couple uncovers the reason for the attack with Sarah adding the final piece of the puzzle. Deep within the resort secrets unfold making Brooke also a target for the attacker. For Brooke she soon finds she must battle not only the shadowy assailant but the return of her feelings for Rafe.
Bella Terra reminds me very much of Napa Valley, just a few miles from my home. Ms. Dodd’s descriptions of the vineyards, the resort and the Di Luca family dynamics are akin to a visit to the generations of families that still live in Napa. There are the winery people and the town people and like Brooke, many of them never leave the valley.
SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA is a super romantic suspense with a fantastic blending of generational intrigue. The long ago family feud makes for a wonderful mystery and I found myself wondering if each new character was behind the attack. The revelation of the attacker was a surprise and one carried out with style.
The romance between Rafe and Brooke is marvelously told—especially the scenes where their history is revealed. The pain Brooke feels when Rafe says he made love to her to repay a debt is heart wrenching. By the same token, his complete unawareness of just what he said that hurt her has a bit of humor to it. His apology is heartfelt even though he didn’t quite get what he did wrong. Ms. Dodd captures the range of human emotions and weaves them into a great story.
I felt a moment’s frustration as I read the last chapter that leads into Eli’s story because I’m going to have to wait for it! It hints of humor and a super romance and mystery that I can’t wait to read.
SECRETS OF BELLA TERRA kicked off my summer reading in style and has me planning a trip over the hill to Napa in the near future.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.