RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Becoming Dante by Day Leclaire


Title: Becoming Dante
Author: Day Leclaire
Publication Info: Harlequin 2012
ISBN: 9780373732135
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Becoming Dante This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Ashlea. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Short Contemporary Series category.

The summary:     

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 Ashlea's review:

I guess you could say I have a troubled relationship with category romance. I love a quick read now and again, and with a little luck I can tear through one one in a single sitting. It's like watching sitcom episode – the same few plots, but with some snappy, loveable characters and the comforting feeling that everything will be resolved by the end.

Like a sitcom, though, sometimes it's a bit too obvious that the deadline was looming. The last one I read before this one had the least lifelike dialogue ever. And also like a sitcom, it's hard to pick up in the middle of a series – all these random people with very large personalities and no time for background to explain why they're all having babies.

Certain tropes just get to me, too.  I love a marriage of convenience plot, I am totally okay that a woman's regretted one-night guy becomes her new boss with alarming regularity, I'll overlook the fact that fictional virgins seem to get pregnant on their first run, but insta-love at first kiss and the domineering alphole sometimes make me a bit ragey.   So really, I should probably avoid the whole Desire line, but somehow, I'm still reading a couple a year. I think I just like mentally railing at the virginal heroine to not put up with that crap – it's like a satisfying yell at my younger self.

Becoming Dante started out with quite a few of my irks. Domineering hero, secret but quite obviously virgin heroine, both instantly overcome by lust despite having a misunderstood history that makes them deservedly hate each other.  And there were several books featuring Dante brothers predating this one, so there's tons of cameos of now happily married Dantes that I can't tell apart. But then the Dante history intervened – apparently identifying your soulmate the first time you touch is a Dante thing called, of course, Dante's Inferno.  It turns out that, if the insta-love is due to a family curse, we've entered fairytale territory and I can suspend disbelief all at once, and even accept the clairvoyant grandmother. 

Once I quit rolling my eyes at the love-at-first-touch, I really quite liked Kat.  Her motivations for putting up with Gabe's crap seemed a bit lacking, but otherwise, she is quite level-headed.  Gabe felt generic to me – successful vague-business guy with father issues who is very protective of his family – but it takes a pretty special hero to stick with me past the last page.  Despite being based on a misunderstanding, the conflict didn't feel forced.  The plot did feel rushed, but if you just roll with the Inferno thing clouding everyone's judgment, it works. Despite the tons of extra Dantes, I didn't feel like I was mired in an info-dump at any point.  And the Dantes make jewelry which is described in such a way that I think I'd like it, and I'm not much of a jewelry person. 

Filtering out my own issues, accounting for the likeable heroine, pretty jewelry, and good writing on one hand and the generic hero and plot on the other, I'd give it a B- overall.

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