As a little boy, Luca Minaldi was told he was a monster. As an adult, he knows it is true. He lives in Malta, a fairytale-like place filled with sunshine and sea, beauty and secrets. And Luca’s darkest of secrets is the best kept of them all.
Eva Talbot arrives in Malta for the summer to finish up her doctoral dissertation. When she meets Luca, a mysterious and handsome shipping tycoon, there is an instant attraction, a disturbing and beautiful energy that she has never felt before. But she senses the darkness that lives within him.
Eva is hired to care for his mother, who suffers from dementia, but it is Luca who Eva will eventually risk everything to save. Her life becomes a swirling chaos of darkness and romance, of secrets and mystery. And the question that emerges will become the most important answer of all.
Can she save Luca from the darkness that plagues him without losing herself?
The answer is a matter of life or death.
Of Blood and Bone is Courtney Coles first non-Young Adult novel, with adult themes, a dark story, and some very sexy adventures within. As soon as she asked if I would like an ARC to read and review, I certainly couldn’t say no. Of Blood and Bone is based in a beautiful place known as Malta, where Eva Talbot has went to finish her doctoral dissertation based on first impressions and initial meetings. With each person she meets, the cheerful and very analytical Eva immediately begins developing a list of attributes she’s believing they have, based only on their first meeting. When an unlikely encounter with a creepy spider leads her to being saved by the resident wealthy bachelor of Malta (man, if only I would scream spider and a hot sexy man would come squish it for me…instead I scream and get two dogs who’d rather sniff it and roll it around than actually kill it) Eva’s list takes a slight change. She’s met the darkly handsome and wealthy Luca Minaldi and she can’t help but to have just a teensy weeny little crush on him. I personally can’t blame her.
Not long after Eva meets Luca, she learns that the island of Malta has had several strange and unsolved murders happen recently. Luckily for her, she stumbles across Luca again, though this time he’s less than amiable and is desperate for someone to come help with his mother, who is afflicted with dementia. After a bit of pleading on his part, Eva comes to stay in his home to help his mother, who’s lately taken a dark turn in her sickness, and who’s current physician is out of town for an extended period of time. Eva, is of course, like any warm blooded woman, quite excited to find herself with just a little more one on one time with Luca, but at the same time she’s deeply troubled by his mother’s strange state of mind. Sometimes she seems so lucid and coherent, that Eva finds dementia to be an odd diagnosis, and then at times Mrs. Minaldi’s mad ravings and suicidal, desperate thoughts prove to Eva that there is something wrong. As she looks closer into the situation, she finds herself unraveling a very dark and alluring mystery.
Of Blood and Bone is quite a step away from Cole’s normal works. Her last book I read was the very light and happy Dante’s Girl, and prior to that were the YA greek mythology novels from the Bloodstone Saga. Of Blood and Bone is a dark, and at times, chilling look into the human psyche with some pretty angst ridden, and in some cases, exceptionally violent scenes. The love between the two main characters isn’t a traditional love, and I feel that some readers would be put off by it, because it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Luca is, at times, a very disturbed individual who has an incredibly dark secret and Eva is a strong willed woman who’s determined to unearth the truth. This leads to some pretty angry scenes between the two, but to me, this made it more real and made the budding love between them more poignant. The characters in this book, far more so than any other characters I’ve read from Cole, have reason to be haunted and broken. Eva is a light to Luca’s darkness, and I feel that if Cole hadn’t made her such a bright character, she would have easily become overshadowed by Luca’s darkness, and then the outcome of the book, or the general plot, wouldn’t have been nearly as believable.
As far as the plot went, I loved this dark style. The adult romance within the novel was spicy, and the chemistry between Eva and Luca was palpable. It was refreshing to see Cole write a love scene in detail, in previous novels it had been glossed over due to the YA content, but in this book, for the first time, readers get a real love scene, and though a few of the scenes are dark and uncomfortable, they’re a glimpse into a very intimate moment between the characters, that builds on the plots and the development of those characters.
In regards to writing style, I feel like Cole changed things up a bit with this book. The descriptions seemed less flowery and more matter of fact, and the conversations between characters seemed to be heavily based off of the internal turmoil of the characters, where as in previous books Cole has been more apt to use lengthy prose and vivid description. I liked the change, it fit with the book and the plot, and I found that in many of the darker scenes, I was very thankful for the slightly less descriptive nature of her writing, it kept some of the heavy scenes from going into over kill mode and I feel it really, in the end, pulled the book together just right.
All in all, I think Courtney Cole did a fabulous job with this first step into adult territory, the plot was fabulous, it kept me on my toes and I never in a million years expected the ending I received. She blew my mind with that plot twist, to be honest. I loved the characters, and the writing style, and I absolutely cannot wait for another installment of this series.