Alessandro's Prize by Helen Bianchin
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.
What I liked:
*I love a good hero in pursuit. I have an issue with player heroes, so I was feeling tough towards Alessandro at first, thinking he might view Lily as another conquest. However, he proved himself that his intentions were sincere towards her. There were several moments where he could have pushed her into sexual intimacy and he refrained, knowing she wasn't ready for that. I ended up liking and respecting him a lot for that. I also liked that he was steadfast in his regard for Lily, despite her cold shoulder. I could feel that he truly loved her. Also, I liked that he was self-made with a tough life behind him. He had turned his life around with the guidance of Lily's aunt and her deceased husband.
*I loved that Lily was a fully-qualified chef and actually had a job that she put a lot of time and energy in. I also liked that she was a woman of independent means. I think Bianchin managed to show that Alessandro could afford to shower her with material things (because that's just obligatory for an HP hero, isn't it?), even though she didn't need them. (view spoiler)[ It was a bit sneaky how it turns out that he owns the restaurant where she gets hired as an assistant chef and her apartment building. I had to laugh, because his tendency to own everything reminded me of Roarke from the In Death series by JD Robb! (hide spoiler)]
*I loved all the food descriptions. What can I say, I'm a foodie?
What I didn't like:
*The fashion descriptions bored me to tears. It's not that I don't like fashion, but getting a list of what Lily wore every time got really old.
*Normally I like how HPs will have details about the different locales, but this one didn't do much for me as far as describing Milan. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it.
*I just didn't get very excited about this book. It wasn't badly written. I just think she needed a little more zing in the story, and I don't mean sex. Just more tension and hop in the storyline. The annoyance factor of the continual post-mortems on Lily's failed relationship and her using that to keep Alessandro at bay was an execution issue, not so much that I don't like having the reluctant heroine who is afraid to love again. I liked that she didn't fall into bed with him immediately, so I'm not sure that insta-sex would have solved the lack of sizzle problem for me.
Overall, a decent read. Not one that I will find especially memorable, but I did like the fact that Alessandro is a solid hero who definitely shows he's worthy of love. When you have a heroine who has gone through what Lily did with her ex, you need that kind of hero. So it was a success on that front.
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