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Yes, she was his angel. But can’t you guess, my love? She was his demon too. 

I received Inamorata through Amazon’s Kindle First program several months ago. I finally decided to read it, and it wasn’t quite what I expected.

In the summary, we’re told that Joseph and Sophie Hannigan flee to Venice to escape some terrible scandal and find fame. Once there, Joseph falls under the spell of the terrible and beautiful Odilé, who promises Joseph fame – if he’s willing to give up everything.

This is true enough, I suppose, but it leaves out a couple very important plot points that would have been better to know from the beginning:

1. This is more of a paranormal fantasy than anything else. It’s historical fiction only in the sense that it takes place mostly in 19th century Venice. I did not expect to find demons in this book.

2. The relationship between Sophie and Joseph is confusing at best, and at worst, there’s more than a hint of incest. But it’s important to remember that this is only hinted at, mostly by other characters’ observations. Nothing remotely sexual happens between Sophie and Joseph in the book, and why they behave the way they do is explained on multiple occasions.

I’ve seen many people describe this book as “sleazy” and “crass.” I would beg to disagree. This is not a book for children, and it doesn’t claim to be. Would I lend this book to a teenage cousin? No. Would I lend it to an adult? Sure. Odilé is a courtesan. This actually is in the description. A courtesan, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, is an upper class prostitute. There are a handful of sex scenes, but nothing too explicit. Certainly not what you might expect in a book about a prostitute.

So from my review and how I’ve defended Inamorata’s more controversial aspects, it probably sounds like I really liked this book, and you might wonder why I only gave it three stars. 

I really struggled through the first hundred pages. The story builds very slowly at the start, and I nearly abandoned it a couple times. I forced myself to keep reading, though, and I found that I started really liking it about halfway through. The ending, though, left a little bit to be desired. It wasn’t awful, but I feel like it could have ended better. I wanted a happy ending, and while the ending wasn’t sad, exactly, it wasn’t happy either.

I would also like to give a heads up to anyone planning to read this book: it begins with a main character slitting her wrists. Again, some warning would have been nice. There I was, expecting your typical historical fiction (because that’s what Amazon billed this as in their Kindle First newsletter), and instead finding a blood-soaked bathtub. It’s more or less irrelevant to the plot, so if you don’t want to read it, you could skip the first chapter without missing anything much.

When Inamorata is good, it’s really, really good. Those really good parts, mixed with the boring and slow parts, even out to about three stars.

Final rating: ★

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