Nina is an Art History graduate student spending a month abroad in Italy for her program. Whilst touring a historic mansion one day, she becomes obsessed with its owner, Arlo Carini. Convinced he wants her too, she relentlessly pursues him, refusing to give up until she gets what she wants.
This is a prequel to what I imagine will be Nina’s true ‘dark romance’ experience, so it’s not very ‘dark’, but it still managed to churn my stomach.
The writing is spotless and the plot is unique, but for personal reasons, I couldn’t connect with this book.
Nina has a serious problem, and thanks to that problem, she’s not as strong or smart as I’d like, but I appreciate that she doesn’t fit the trope of poor, little innocent girl. Her problem? She gets obsessed with men to the point where if she doesn’t sleep with them, she stops functioning normally. Too bad she wants Arlo, because he’s one of the hardest to like heroes I’ve come across. He’s beyond cruel to her and he apparently has his reasons for treating her in such a way, but I still don’t know what they are.
This is my issue with the story: In romance, I don’t like the H/h actively having sex with OM/OW and using sex to make someone jealous or to prove a point is a trigger of mine. So, *Mild SPOILER* when Arlo locks Nina in a bathroom while he has sex with multiple women, multiple times, being as loud as possible to make sure she hears, it bothers me. There are countless ways he could’ve tried to scare her away, but that was a little too humiliating for my liking. *End Spoiler* After the end of the book, I vaguely understand why he did it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to like him after that.
After all of Arlo’s attempts to scare Nina away, I finally got his ambiguous insight that he actually cares for Nina, but I wasn’t convinced. Not just because of how he treated her, but because she doesn’t have many likable characteristics, either.
Maybe if the story didn’t end when it did and more reasons were given for me to like the characters I’d rate this higher, because even in the darker stories I need something or someone to connect with and care about, and I didn’t find that in this story.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.