Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book review: the Secrets of Bella Terra by author Christina Dodd

Review by Sarah

Romantic suspense, military

Published August 2011 by Signet Select


Back of the Book Blurb: The three dynamic DiLuca brothers are tormented by their memories of the past. Brooding and sexy Rafe DiLuca has returned home to his family's luxurious vineyard resort for one reason: to find out who attacked his beloved grandmother. His homecoming stirs up a long-ago feud, forcing him to work with Brooke Petersson, the woman he once seduced and betrayed....but never forgot.

As the danger escalates and their passion threatens to consume them both, Brooke fights her treacherous longing for a man who can never truly share his life. Remembering how his love once shattered her, she vows that Rafe may possess her body, but never again will she trust him with her fiercely guarded heart.

The peril they face will either bring them together or destroy them both...unless they uncover the secret that will change everything.

Review: This was my first Christina Dodd novel - I'm not sure how I've missed her before, as she has a lot of books in print. This if the first book of a new series featuring the DiLuca brothers, and I'm assuming each brother will get his own book. The brothers share the same father, and each has an exotic and dangerous backstory. Rafe's mother is an internationally famous actress and beauty, and he is also shockingly handsome. And tough - after the military he started his own security firm and now has secret, dangerous missions all over the world. Which is why he left the first and only love of his life, Brooke, back in Bella Terra.

Brooke has grown up since he left, becoming the concierge for the DiLuca brothers resort. And by concierge the author really means hotel manager, because Brooke seems to be in charge of the whole place and the staff, to include the hiring and firing. There were a few things about this book that irritated me to the point of distraction. The discrepancy between Brooke's job title and her actual duties was one. A second was the history of Brooke's mother, Kathy, a medically retired USAF helicopter pilot who ran secret government operations, and who seemingly lacks compassion for her daughter. The author explains this by stating "for a woman to thrive in the service, she had to let her grasp of the subtleties of human emotion slip away." (Quite the opposite - one MUST understand the human subtleties to be a good leader - showing compassion, however, could indeed be seen as a sign of weakness.) As a retired Army officer this was like a red flag of WTFness, made me question other claims in the book, and took me out of a mystery that I otherwise really enjoyed. I know this may seem nit picky to some, but it's my review, right? It's funny how one "off" detail can yank a reader right out of an otherwise well-constructed world - anyone else find that to be true?

So after Rafe's grandmother is attacked as the result of a decades long feud, Rafe is determined to investigate and needs Brooke's help. They both still love each other, but don't communicate well, so there is a lot of anger and resentment fueling their simmering passion. Pretty soon Brooke stumbles upon a horrific find, and while helping her deal with the shock, Rafe tenderly cleans corpse goo off Brooke in the shower. Before you know it they are having amazing shower sex on the hard tile floor, and Brooke is desperate, because after having one spasming/firework-seeing orgasm, she is still waiting for the "ultimate orgasm". The phrase "ultimate orgasm" is used three times on one page, so it must be good, right?

Anyway, I digress with my sarcastic self. The good points of this novel were many - a really interesting mystery, a nicely developed cast of characters who were believable and enriched the story, and a setting so well described I can still see it in my head. And the best part - I wasn't sure who did it until the end! The author is a great story-teller, and I would like to read the next book in the series, Revenge at Bella Terra.

3.5 out of 5 Modokker Book Pick Stars
For more information and a complete list of the author's novels, go to


  1. Ok Sarah--- you made me laugh and add a book to my list! I have problems with first in series books too sometimes for the same reasons!

  2. Yes as a matter of fact i do get it. When it's area you know a lot about it bothers you that something is inaccurate.

    You sarcastic thing you lol Good review. Sometimes you really have to tell it like you see it regardless.


  3. Hi Guys - this really was a fun, brain-candy kind of read, in spite of my sarcastic tone:-) It was a good escape from real life!