2013 Book Reviews

The Girl Behind The Mask by Stella Knightley

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Leaving the heartache of sexual betrayal behind her in London, historian Sarah Thomson intends to make the most of her research trip to Venice. But she soon finds her attention consumed by mysterious millionaire Marco Donato. Despite their deepening relationship, however, the handsome playboy persists in playing a secretive game.

What exactly is Marco hiding? The subject of Sarah’s research is eighteenth-century Venetian Luciana Giordano. At a time when debauchery is the city’s favourite pastime, virginal Luciana is kept out of trouble by a zealous chaperone–until she meets a man who promises to help her escape her restraints. But just what does the worldly stranger want to teach her in return?

Firstly I would like to thank Emillie at Hodder for sending me this book. Emillie has a knack for sending me books that I fall in love with.

You know when you read a book that takes over your life, so much that you forget real life exists whilst you’re firmly stuck between its pages? Well that was this book for me. I know a lot of people say “I couldn’t put it down”. But I genuinely couldn’t, which made eating and parenting impossible! (Thank god for husbands.) I quite literally swallowed this book in an afternoon.

The Girl Behind The Mask is about two different women centuries apart.

First up we have Sarah Thomson, she has just arrived in Venice to research Luciana Giordano. In order to research Luciana fully, she has to gain permission to enter the Donato family Library, something no one has ever managed. Marco Donato is something of a recluse now, after years of parties, women and fast cars he suddenly stopped and disappeared behind The Palazzo Donato. But Sarah is granted permission one visit to the library, which goes onto Sarah being allowed to visit as often as she likes for her research, as long as she informs Marco of what she is discovering.

It’s during these emails back and forth that Sarah and Marco seem to have this connection, and as much as Sarah begs Marco to come and see her in the flesh. Marco always comes back with the excuse he is away working. Sarah shares some really private things with Marco but he seems to be hiding secrets from her.

When Sarah is alone at night she dreams of Marco and boy they are HOT! (God job it’s winter, it’s easier to keep cool).

Then we have Luciana, she is fiercely protected by her father, brother and chaperone. Banned from reading anything but the bible and must wear a mask when outside her home.

Each night when her chaperone puts her to bed she waits a few moments before going to her window and watching the night life she is hidden from. One night a gentleman sends a message to her, when she reads it he questions why she sits at her window each night and why she isn’t out dancing.

The next night daringly Luciana sends a message back telling all her secrets and frustrations, not long after giving it to him she starts to worry she has made a mistake. But what happens next results in Luciana being sent books by her “teacher” so as can learn about the world.

Then she starts to sneak out to his home and loses her virginity to the man who refuses to reveal his true identity to her. They have a huge love affair and Luciana dreams of running away and having a life together. If her father finds out what is happening she will be sent to a convent, but each night she risks getting caught to be able to lie in her lovers arms. But who is her teacher? Why won’t he reveal his true identity?

I loved each story and found my self desperate to get to the present and past to see how each story was progressing. Luciana’s story is about forbidden love, what is more addictive than that? A love that will never end in them being together if found out, but still night after night risking punishment and shame on your family just to see your true love. It’s terribly romantic.

As for Sarah, finding herself falling in love with someone she hasn’t met, only spoken to through email. Pouring your secrets into a man she doesn’t know. There is something so honest and raw about that, because it isn’t based on looks, it’s based falling for each others minds.

I can honestly say, hand on heart, I truly, truly ADORED this book. It’s just incredibly passionate, interesting, compelling, addictive and has a story you can really sink your teeth into and get lost in for a few hours.

This wasn’t your typical erotic novel either, normally girl meets guy they have a connection etc etc. with this two of the lovers never actually meet, yet it still had you turning page after page.

It was beautifully written and impossible to put down. One of my favourite reads of the year.

Romantic, captivating, passionate, unputdownable.

Sleek and sexy with strong storyline that will have you desperate for the next.

Which I’m now off to finish!

To grab a copy of this in Paperback click here and for kindle click here.

Do it, get one right now and let yourself be absorbed and transported to another world.


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