The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio by Belle Ami is a romantic suspense thriller and the second book in the Out of Time series. High on the success of finding a centuries-old Leonardo da Vinci painting, Angela Renatus, and her fiance Alex Caine are on a well deserved holiday in Florence. Angela and Alex however, are not ordinary detectives! Angela is an art historian with special psychic abilities and Alex is a former Navy Seal. It was Angela's psychic abilities that proved instrumental in finding the lost painting and also in discovering that she and Alex have been soulmates for several lifetimes!
Cut to the present day and Angela starts having strange dreams about the 16th century Rome and feels the past reach out to her yet again. She becomes restless and anxious about what it all means! When Alex is called upon to locate 'The Nativity', a Caravaggio stolen in the 1960s, Angela's dreams begin to make sense. Initially frightened of the dreams and the violence of the man she comes to recognize is Caravaggio, Angela's feelings change gradually as the mists lift further.
She realizes that Caravaggio was actually a tormented genius who was haunted by his separation from the girl he loved and the country he called home! But it isn't only the crimes of the past that Angela and Alex have to contend with. Tracing a stolen painting and dealing with the modern-day art mafia brings its own set of dangers! And when family secrets worm their way into the open and become closely intertwined with the crime you are trying to solve, the stakes just get higher!
The second installment in this series has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. For a crime and a chase that is set across glamorous locations across continents, the story surprisingly lacks much mystery or suspense! At times it seemed that Angela and Alex were sleep-walking their way from one clue to the next! It was a surprise and not a very pleasant one when Alex starts having visions of past life as well. Granted that his life too is entangled with the past, but Angela was the psychic and Alex the action man! Although still very much in love and devoted to each other, their romance lacks the genuineness and warmth of the first book. There is too much of Alex-the playboy, in this book and Angela when not having visions, keeps 'moaning' out her pleasure in food!
On the other hand, the parts of the story that dealt with the past and with Caravaggio's life were a delight to read! The author provides the reader with a wealth of information about the painter, his life, his style of painting and some of his famous works! Oftentimes, the vivid description of a particular painting had me looking it up on the internet to appreciate it better. The author writes about historical facts, accurate timelines and real people who knew Caravaggio - but she uses this information to weave together a beautiful and tragic tale which portrays Caravaggio as a flawed, tragic, misunderstood genius rather than the violent, capricious, mentally unstable character that he is otherwise known as!
A well-paced, well-written and well-edited book, I give The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio 3 out of 4 stars for its brilliant story of the past and a slightly disappointing story of the present. The book has a few instances of use of profane language and it has several erotic scenes that are romantic without being too graphic or vulgar. I recommend this book to readers who love a good romantic suspense story! Although this can be read as a stand-alone book, readers who have read the first book in the series will definitely enjoy it more!
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