Venetian Masks by Kim Fielding
4 Pants Off
Jeff Dawkins’s last partner left him with a mortgage he can’t afford and nonrefundable tickets for a month’s vacation in Europe. Despite a reluctance to travel, Jeff decides to go on the trip anyway. After all, he’s already paid for it. He packs a Kindle loaded with gay romance novels and arrives in Venice full of trepidation. There he meets the handsome and charming expat Cleve Prieto, who offers to serve as his tour guide. Jeff has serious misgivings—he wasn’t born yesterday, and something about Cleve doesn’t sit right—but anything is better than wandering the canals alone. With Cleve’s help, Jeff falls in love with Venice and begins to reconcile with his past. For the first time, Jeff finds himself developing strong feelings for someone else. But he can’t be sure who that person is because Cleve’s background remains a mystery embroidered with lies.
Then a dark figure from Cleve’s past appears, and Jeff must choose whether to let Cleve flee alone or to join him on a desperate run through central Europe. Maybe Jeff will finally be able to see behind Cleve’s masks—if he survives the journey.
Jeff's ex-boyfriend left him with non-refundable tickets for their Europe trip and a mortgage to pay, when he broke up with him. So what does the predictable and reliable IT-guy to do? He actually goes on their planned vacation to Italy, Venice after some nagging from his mother.
The story has an interesting beginning. What would one do with non-refundable tickets and booked time-shares in some of the most interesting European cities? It reminds me a bit of an adventure novel, where you can choose your own adventure and the story was a bit like that, since Jeff's decisions were anything but rational or sane or believable, but it was fun to follow him down the rabbit hole!
So the game begins: a geeky IT-guy has two choices going on vacation in Europe (he never traveled outside the USA before and not much inside the USA) or be adventurous and accept the challenge. He goes for adventure, but with well researched and planned actions, spending diary and all. Jeff doesn't appear very exciting or adventurous at first just your normal guy, who likes security and plans ahead.
Next step in the game is: Jeff meets a hot guy after arriving in Venice and has the chance to take the mysterious American guy on his offer to pay him, to be Jeff's guide for the length of his visit. What would you do? Again Jeff goes for the interesting option, which you would not expect from him, what with the spending diary and all, since he is worried about the money at the beginning, but then doesn't mind paying 100 Euros for the day to the mysterious Cleve, plus meals and tickets.
Cleve and Jeff are attracted to each other and come together pretty quick, at least they have sex after a few days of knowing each other. So what would one do after one sleeps with a guy, who then steals one's money and credit cards? One option would be to cancel the card, be hurt, angry and go to the police. Second option, which is not rational, but one might be in love, so one tries to find the guy. Jeff sees that a charge was made for a ticket to Croatia and so he chooses option two and follows the guy to another country!
When he finds out that Cleve is a former porn star, was involved with a Mafioso, who is still chasing him (who would not believe such a story???) Jeff takes another unexpected and dare I say less than sane option, to confess his love and join Cleve on his flight from the evil gangster. All ends well, even if one Kindle is destroyed to serve a higher purpose and in defence of one’s love! So what would you do at the end? Leave the guy you’ve only known a month tops? Or bring him back to the USA to meet your parents and to live with you? After I described all of Jeff's decision, I think you can guess the answer. ^_^
Geek Level: Hmm, actually with all this irrational decisions and spontaneity, Jeff earned some adventurous credits. At the beginning he was a bit geekier what with all the research, the geeky profession as an IT-guy for a time-share and the planed live. Oh and he gets some points for his love of Kindle romance novels, with dubious historical correctness (Cleve read some aloud). Plus geek point for using face recognition software to find out about Cleve's (no normal guy would think of that!). Out of 5 geek points, for profession, behaviour, looks, hobbies and favorite references to movies/TV shows, this books scores 2 points.
Should You Read It? I think this is one of the books you either like or hate. I liked it, love the detailed description of Venice, it reminded me of my own stay there. The novel is well written and well researched, it's mostly fun and light, and an easy read for a train ride, a rainy day or for the beach. It's mostly plot driven, but the plot isn't exactly very complex. And you have to bring some sense of adventure into it. So Jeff's reactions and decision are not exactly what I would do, but they make for a great holiday adventure/ romance story.
|4 Pants Off|