You have no idea how bummed I am that I didn't like this book. Christina Dodd is one of my go-to authors because her stories are interesting, the characters are solid and the endings are always satisfying.
In this third and final installment of Bella Terra the youngest brother, Noah, reunites with a past love, Penelope, while trying to solve the family mystery of the missing bottle of wine.
I tried to be vague, but I did hide any spoiler-y type comments just to be safe.The Love:
I didn't find this couple's rekindled love realistic at all. First, their prior relationship was never defined for us. The vague references to the past were short and didn't hint to a passionate or deep relationship. Second, We don't know how or why they broke up either. I kept waiting for the big why did you leave me like you did conversation, but it never came. Third, they have one conversation when Penelope gets back in town and then BAM, a couple days later he caveman drags her outside and is groping her against a tree without a "how do you do". Last, I think Noah and Penelope were probably together a total of 20 pages in the whole "courtship" part of the book before he asks her to marry him. There just wasn't enough of their relationship described to be a satisfying romance.The Family:
These were the best parts. As always Christina Dodd knows how to write family interactions. Grandma, the other brothers, the wives, and the friendships show through in the writing. I did have one concern near the end of the book when Penelope "slapped him on the side of the head" and then later pinches him hard. Maybe I misunderstood the context, but it didn't feel playful and personally I don't think relationships should consist of any physical violence. The Action:
I wish the whole part about the bomb collar would have gone away. One, I didn't believe he would put it on of his own volition. Two, I didn't believe that contraption to be realistic, as in that a video camera, voice recorder, timer and detonator could be conveniently rigged into a collar. All of those things need power and the dinky sized battery that would fit in a dog collar could not of sustained all that for two weeks. It just seem too contrived. Three, I didn't believe his mother's motivation to get him to wear it. Even the explanation at the end didn't convince me that this would be an option she would choose. What a mess!The Intrigue:
I feel like everybody who needed information got it way to easily. For example, the hotel owner, Adrianne Marino, creeped me out. She knew way too much of other people's business and stepped over all kinds of personal boundaries. Maybe if she would have said that she and Penelope's mother were really tight and she had promised to look out for Penelope I could have understood Adrianne's actions better. Another example is when the broken microphone magically gets fixed so the Propovs can learn about the betrayal. I say magically because Noah physically broke it and I don't think there is any computer hacking in the world that will repair a broken microphone remotely. Sorry, I couldn't buy it.
Even so, I enjoyed the last chapter and I'm glad I read the book to finish off the series.