Sunday, April 29, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥: Lost in Italy by Stacey Joy Netzel

Release Date: October 25th, 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace (self-published)
Page Count: 345
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Life is a little different unscripted...

Halli Sanders spent two years planning the trip of a lifetime to Italy. Her itinerary did not include being stranded by her siblings, kidnapped by a sexy American movie star, dodging bullets, or fleeing criminals in a car chase around Lake Como.

Trent Tomlin put his movie career on hold to investigate his brother's murder-ruled-suicide at his Italian villa. He's closing in on the suspects when Halli unwittingly films the murder of the retired cop helping him. The killers will stop at nothing to get the evidence—including holding Halli's family as collateral.

Thrust into the role of real-life hero, Trent finds himself falling for the Plaine Jane whose beauty blossoms with every challenge they face. But can he keep the evidence out of the wrong hands and get justice for his brother without betraying Halli and her family?
It's every girl's fantasy to go to a foreign country—one as dazzling and romantic like Italy, at that—and fall in love with a stranger. It's every girl's fantasy to be that one girl for an overrated, over-hotpants movie star, the one that he falls for without knowing it, and the one that's hard to get. Lost in Italy combines these two scenarios to make up Halli and Trent's story.

In that respect (meaning, regarding plot), I feel this novel is a bit farfetched. The situation just seems highly unlikely: first, that Halli would just coincidentally run into Trent Tomlin, who's apparently an even bigger deal than Tom Cruise, and second, that he would fall for her "plain Jane"ness. It is extraordinarily rare for men to go after the plain type. Maybe Halli is different in that she doesn't throw herself on him at their first meeting, but I feel there's nothing that marvelous about her that would make a guy like Trent fall for her.

I'm not saying I don't like her character, though. She's a strong, stubborn, and determined member of Lost in Italy's cast, and I do have a sense of respect for her. I just think Netzel does a poor job convincing me that Trent's affections for her are plausible. They're genuine, all right; you can see it in Trent and Halli's interactions that he really cares and that deep down, she cares as well. However, it's just the synopsis itself that has me doubtful.

The action seems a little forced. Don't get me wrong, the aspect of danger and the thrill is adrenaline-pumping, but there are places I felt were a little weak in the rush. The situation seems more riveting than the actual action; the situation, meaning, a murder caught on camera and the convicts who will go to every length to destroy the evidence.

One thing I did enjoy was how there are secondary plots outside of Trent and Halli's romance (or rather, Trent's doggish pursuit of Halli, considering she doesn't really budge for him until the last quarter of the book). There's a steamy forbidden attraction involving the enemy, someone on the side of Halli's predators, and of course, the entire blackmail/ransom story itself. Netzel's style is clear and to-the-point, which makes Lost in Italy a fast read, but not a very fascinating one.

On another note, something that is pretty exciting is that I'm quoted in the book! A portion of my review for Shattered Trust made it to her review pages in the back:
Yippee!! And on the back cover too!!!
What an honor to be featured in a publication.

As much as I love the cover ;) I do have to say I'm disappointed with Lost in Italy, considering how much I enjoyed her other novel. This book just didn't do Netzel justice; I feel it isn't an accurate representation of her (usual) work. Maybe it's the improbable storyline, or maybe it's the noticeably flavorless writing style; nevertheless, I can't really gush about this one.

Stephanie Loves: "'And how about dessert?'
The moment the words left his mouth, he could've kicked himself for not keeping the question to himself. In the close confines of the boat, with her recently showered fresh scent lingering in the air like it had in the car, his mind immediately flashed back to the scorching kiss at the Villa Melzi that morning. The one at Simone's had been nice, too, but it'd ended badly—how could it not with a gun involved?—and, that one certainly didn't make him crave a long, slow, hot dessert like the one in the garden did. His mouth actually watered as he fiddled with the camera in his hands.
'Sponge cake with fresh fruit and cream.'
He made a noncommittal noise, still vying for control over his over-imaginative mind.
'You want something else?'
She was bent over, digging pots and pans and a cutting board from his small cupboards. He eyed her tempting curves and said, 'Nothing you'd go for.'
— whooooooo-ee! This was sizzling.

Radical Rating: 6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. ♥♥♥♥♥♥