Dante's Flame

Jannine Corti-Petska
Dante's Flame
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The Wild Rose Press; Historical English Tea Rose books
Release Date
July 2012
Historical Romance

Alessandra Podesta writes illicit tales unsuitable for a young lady. Exasperated, her father sends her to visit relatives in Naples to curb her wild imagination. But in her undying need for adventure, she toys with the affections of her tutor and is forced to marry him. When she unknowingly falls into a dangerous game of supremacy between two countries, she trusts the wrong people and endangers her life.

French tutor Dante Santangelo is secretly aiding the French in maintaining their rule over Naples. When he is manipulated into marrying the visiting cousin of the Valente Family, he seizes upon the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the family, who are under suspicion of helping the Spanish.

When Alessandra's life is in jeopardy Dante must choose between love and duty. Will he offer up his life to save Alessandra? Or remain duty-bound to the French?

Book Review by Victoria Lane (reviewer)
Oct 14, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
95 people found the following review helpful
DANTE'S FLAME by Jannine Corti-Petska takes readers into the quagmire of politics existing outside castle walls. We know the facts as revealed by history, but DANTE'S FLAME shows us the human lives behind the scenes. I give this Italian tale three stars for its imagery and dialogue.

DANTE'S FLAME tells the medieval tale of Alessandra Podesta, a 19-year-old Venetian lady, who has pushed the boundaries of her father's patience by writing lascivious stories. She is sent to live in French-controlled Naples with the Valentes, relatives who are dominated by her violent older cousin. Alessa's penchant for wandering unescorted through the city and sneaking out at night lands her in hot water with her uncle, who determines that she needs a husband to help control her.

Alessa's uncle marries her off to her French tutor, Dante Santangelo, who is secretly working with the French to maintain their rule over Naples. Dante initially uses his tutoring position, and then later his marriage to Alessandra, to uncover evidence of the family's aiding of the Spanish. Alessa stumbles across dangerous information, including a plot to assassinate Queen Isabella, the French regent of Naples. In attempting to get help, she trusts the wrong people and endangers her life, and Dante must choose between his wife and his queen.

The key to enjoying this book is to keep in mind what life was like for young women in medieval times; they had very little freedom, and regardless of education, they were often kept ignorant of the world at large. So when Alessandra makes some really bone-headed moves, it is more understandable. My favorite lines that illustrate this aspect of the story are when he asks her, "Are you so addle-minded, you cannot learn from experience?" and Alessa's responds, "I am not addle-minded. I simply have a need to…to seek answers to appease my curiosity." While Alessa may seem ditzy, if you put yourself in her shoes, you can easily see how she is just amazed and intrigued by the world around her.

The rest of the dialogue in the book is well crafted to help the reader stay in medieval times. I wasn't distracted by modern colloquialisms, and the descriptions of the city were quintessential Italy. I've been lost in the maze of narrow streets and alleyways before, and it's not easy to find your way back home, even with a map!

After a great start, the storyline got a bit muddled in the middle when, after getting married, Dante can't decide whether to sleep with Alessandra or not. Perhaps a bit more time could have been spent developing their relationship through dialogue and time spent together. The "I love you's" didn't seem very credible under the circumstances. It was obvious Dante is amused by Alessandra and that she is enamored of him, but that they had fallen in love with each other was a bit of a stretch for me. There was a moment when I thought the novel might veer off into the BDSM genre, but I was greatly relieved to see Dante act according to his character's paradigm. Thinking back about the scene, it probably wasn't so scandalous when considered in historical context. Perhaps my qualms with the romantic element here exist because falling in love was much different in medieval times than what we expect today.

What was most interesting to me was the political intrigue, and the conclusion of the book was my favorite part. As a fan of history, I love how fiction can bring history alive. DANTE'S FLAME definitely puts human faces to the conflict in Italy at that time, and there were parts of the novel where I couldn't put it down, especially the conclusion. The end of the story is fraught with peril and suspense, and easily could have been cut from a major motion picture. No spoilers here, though! You'll just have to read it yourself.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed DANTE'S FLAME, and recommend it to any lovers of historical fiction.
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