A secret Dante
All his life, Gabe Moretti has denied his Dante heritage-but when he meets Kat Malloy, his late wife's cousin, the Dante Inferno cannot be ignored. He tells himself it's only business-her hand in exchange for a necklace his mother created.
But when one touch leads to another-and a kiss leads to more-Gabe realizes he's in over his head. Because Kat has secrets he needs to uncover.
And now he'll have to do the one thing he's sworn never to do-go to his Dante relatives to find out the truth about this powerful passion….
And here is Melanie's review:
This is me, Chapter 1 of Becoming Dante: oh, dear.
Can I tell you what happened when Kat stormed into Gabe’s office?
(Do you need to know why? She had a Plan for Restoring her Good Name with her Beloved, Estranged Grandmother.)
(Do you need to know why he was resistant? She was the Evil Harlot who Shamed her Beloved Cousin, his Future – now Tragically Dead – Wife.)
Right. So in storms Kat, and my ‘oh, dear’-o-meter goes off: “She’s yours, came an insidious whisper. Take the woman!” (Italics, sadly, not mine.)
A couple pages later, the “insidious whisper lashed at him. Take her. Make her yours. Brand her with your touch.”
I am not so fond of this insidious whisper. I mean, they’re in his office. Shouldn’t the insidious whisper (yes, I love typing ‘insidious whisper,’ why do you ask?) want to preserve a modicum of Gabe’s professional dignity? (I’m not sure I caught what Gabe does. Big Powerful Businessman with Important Corporate Whatnots, okay?) Shouldn’t it not be encouraging sexual aggression?
Now, it turns out – and if I’d been up on this series I’d surely have known this – that the whisper is part of a magic soulmate-predicting power (the Inferno) that the Dante family has, and Gabe is the unacknowledged bastard son of a Dante who ignored his own whisper and married for money and had an affair with his whisper-ee later and now Gabe has legitimate half-siblings who all seem to work for the family’s fancy jewelry firm.
Which happens to be the exact company that Kat is hoping to design jewelry for some day, but she doesn’t know about Gabe’s connection to them until later. All she knows is that her cousin framed her back when she was 19, and no one ever believed her, so she ran off to Europe, where I guess there’s no internet to keep her abreast of developments, and when she returns with the Plan (you do remember the Plan?) she also feels the Inferno, but doesn’t get what it means.
The Plan is ‘let’s pretend we’re in love and engaged so Grandma will forgive me and in return I’ll give you the fancy diamond necklace your mom designed back when she worked for Dante and was Inferno-ized then dumped by Dante Sr., which my grandma will leave for me in her will since she’s dying.’
Gabe agrees, but counter-plans of course to completely ruin her freshly-restored name as soon as the necklace (the only thing in the world he covets) is his. Meanwhile he harasses her into some power-lust-bomb kisses that make their eyes cross and their palms burn (it’s an Inferno thing, the palms), and decides that he is going to get the necklace and some great nookie while he’s at it.
Kat’s all “no, no sex for me, thanks anyway,” which you can imagine lasts until about half-way through the book, as these things so often do.
By then, I wasn’t quite so ‘oh, dear’ about the book. I liked Gabe’s journey as he learned to deal with his dad’s family, and the whole Kat-Grandma thing packed a punch.
The Happy Ever Aftering of Gabe and Kat? Not all that amazing. Kat wasn’t a character that needed to grow particularly, just to have everyone realize how perfect she is and always has been, the better for us to admire her kindness, spirit, resiliency in the face of slander, etc. And she was way passive about a lot that happened in their relationship. Sometimes internally she questioned what Gabe was up to, but seemed to just think her way into acceptance and understanding without much trouble. Although I suppose the Inferno-Power thing was to blame for it, because of the InstaLove and all.
Gabe, though, had to grow. But it was a series of making assumptions, holding grudges, having the assumptions overturned, and instantly being grudge-free and moving forward. Not much of it was driven by wrestling his internal demons or whatever. I felt like a lot of what happened with him (other than whispers of the insidious variety) happened off-page, and I was just told about it. Leclair writes smoothly; I wish she’d toned down the magic-soulmate thing and gotten a little rougher with Kat and Gabe as they fought their way to palm-burning-bliss.