Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Portrait of My Love - a romance through a Dystopian lens

You should know by now that I have a very grim view of humanity. I hope to demonstrate that even a hardened cynic can enjoy a romance novel. Obviously, a reader like myself is going to get something entirely different from someone who gulps romance at face value. So today I am reviewing a romance novel from a Dystopian point of view. A few months ago I reviewed a murder mystery by the same author, Jennifer Young. Today I am reviewing A Portrait of My Love, Book #1 in her Lake Garda Series.

Terrified of commitment, Skye Ashton ditches her artist boyfriend, Zack, and disappears off to Italy with her best friend, the fascinating and fabulously wealthy Leona Castellano. When Zack turns up, Skye realises how much she really cares for him. But she has a fight on her hands, because Leona has taken an instant fancy to him, and she’s used to getting what she wants.

When Leona sets out to uncover the true story behind an old family feud, she puts herself in danger, and Zack finds himself drawn into an attempt to save her.

Will his intervention in Leona’s life lead to him losing Skye, the girl he really loves?
My thoughts:
I confess that before reading "A Portrait of My Love" I had to deprogram my brain a little. This book is totally outside the scope of my usual reading material. Normally I get a lot of twisted pleasure out of reading truly cerebral, warped, darkly comical fiction. Hence, I am not going to judge "A Portrait of My Love" it according to my regular guidelines. On a personal level, what intrigued me is that the love triangle reminds me of my own story. 17 years ago, while still in college, I successfully stole a man from a commitaphobic "friend". She was also "taking a break from the relationship" to "do some soul-searcing". Well, I didn't waste much time and moved right in. So I have a sadistic soft spot for love triangles like that. I have another sadistic soft spot for decadent Americans - or Brits - running away to do soul-searching in Italy. A prospective threesome in Italy ... Hm... Wings of the Dove, here I fly!

Now we are getting to the most delectable part - the protagonist, Skye Ashton. The author does a marvelous job creating a whiny, entitled, neurotic, impulsive, wishy-washy heroine trapped in the rinse cycle of first world problems, who fancies herself a free-spirit and a citizen of the universe yet agonizes over whom to call, her best friend or her boyfriend, or what flavor creamer to put in her coffee. In short, Skye is someone you want to see ambushed in a dark alley, murdered in a gruesome way and chopped up into pieces, just to stop hearing her high-pitched voice. Her redhead frenemy with a very telling name Leona is made essentially of the same raw materials. The differences are cosmetic. The object of their rivalry Zach is a glassy-eyed anemic dreamer who doodles Celtic knots. Essentially, what we end up with is a cast of hedonistic, spiritually bereft individuals taking a stab at the concept of Love. Ironically, "Love" is in the title of the novel. In reality, these people would not know Love if it fell into their cocktail glasses.

As a parody of 21st century Western World Womanhood, A Portrait of My Love is unparallelled. 

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