Beneath the Porticoes by Brooke Adams

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Beneath the Porticoes by Brooke Adams

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A woman in her thirties decides that she needs a change and moves to Italy where she meets a Franciscan friar. The relationship seems impossible...
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 158 Date: June 2022
Publisher: Matador

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Elizabeth Miller was thirty-four and a teacher at a prestigious girl's school in York. It was comfortable but she longed for something more in life. She'd still not found the right vocation nor met the right man and now was the time to make a change. She needed challenges. There was a little trepidation when she applied for the professoressa job in Bologna. After a telephone interview, she was offered the position and it wasn't long before she was exploring the beautiful city. There were some natural doubts before her first class but it went surprisingly well.

She was used to teaching teenage girls and it was a refreshing change to have a class of people, all of whom had chosen to be there. Nicole was from Munich and wanted to improve her English as she was planning on moving to England and working in the hospitality industry. Her English was actually very good and she and Elizabeth became firm friends. Nandu was from Southern India and wanted to improve his English for business reasons. Then there was Carlo Marinetti, a Franciscan friar who lived and worked in Bologna. He's a priest at the church that Elizabeth attends – and there's an immediate, dangerous connection between them. They'd both prefer that it wasn't there as it can only cause problems: it's unprofessional of Elizabeth to have a relationship with one of her students and Carlo has taken a vow of chastity. Elizabeth can't help but wonder if it would have been better if they had never met at all.

I've read Brooke Adams before and I knew that I could expect a feel-good romance that would leave me on a high. There'd be plenty of sex, delivered with sensitivity and the characters would be well developed in remarkably few words. I wasn't disappointed – it was all there – but Adams has developed as a writer since I last read her and her work is more thought-provoking. It's a brave romance writer who tackles the problems of a religious leaving his order. Is it purely the need for a sexual relationship – getting back in touch with the earthy gravity of his sex that's been dormant for over a decade - that's driving the change? Or is the relationship not the cause of sin but the road to his redemption?

I've never been to Bologna but I felt as though I was there. Adams brings the city and the surrounding countryside to vivid life. She made me want to be there. I liked too that she's confident enough to use Italian phrases without feeling the need to translate them. No, I don't speak Italian – but it wasn't difficult to work out what was being said.

I finished the book in one sitting: it was a fun engaging read and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more from Brooke Adams, try Cherry Blossom Boutique – it's a feel-good story that wraps itself around you and gives you a good cuddle.

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