Book Review – Ardent by Heloise West


Publisher: Manifold Press
Pages: 209
Characters: Morello/Benedetto
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Historical

Blurb:
In the village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has created a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno, from strife-ridden Medici Florence, tells him the color gives him a competitive advantage – but Morello must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets.

As they work together in Torrenta, Morello falls hard for Zeno’s assistant, Benedetto Tagliaferro, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence. Benedetto is still fixed on his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, and cannot return Morello’s affections.

But when Leo dies in a terrible accident, it’s to Morello that Zeno and Benedetto turn for help. And Morello soon finds that in Florence, every surface hides layers of intrigue.

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Review

Ardent is very well researched and it shows. I loved the descriptions of the settings—they were very easy to visualize and made me feel as though I was there watching everything going on as I was reading. I enjoyed learning about the artists’ process, and especially the day to day life of the masters and their apprentices in the workshops of the time. I also appreciated that the two main characters couldn’t be openly together, and that the risk of discovery was never far from their minds as this added another layer of realism to the story. I loved the descriptive language and thought it suited the time period of the story well.

Morello and Benedetto are interesting characters with quite different personalities. I liked the way their pasts impacted on the decisions they made, and how they see themselves. The supporting ‘cast’ is made up of diverse characters with their own backstories, and I’d love to read more about them, especially Dea, an old friend of Leo’s.

I thought the mystery was well written, with several red herrings, and I liked the politics that played into it. Some of the revelations were obvious, others I had to go back and re-read because I was sure I’d missed something, although I must admit I scratched my head over one bit, as I would have thought that one of the POVs would have mentioned it before the other character—and the readers—find out about it, considering the guilt attached to the action. As the story progresses and the stakes rise, the action picks up its pace. I particularly loved the ending, and thought the paint on—read the book to find out!—hand was a nice touch. I’d comment more about that but don’t want to give away any spoilers.

I’d recommend Ardent to readers who enjoy a well researched historical with lush descriptions, interesting characters, and a murder mystery. 4 out of 5 stars.

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About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning. In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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One Response to Book Review – Ardent by Heloise West

  1. Pingback: ARDENT | Manifold Press

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