Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: 'The Angel of Soriano' by Stella Marie Alden

New Jersey author Stella Marie Alden, often teamed with Canadian author Chantel Seabrook, steps out on her own to offer this Renaissance tale, rich in adventure, romance and erotica. It aims to satisfy the Chick Lit group as well as the young male heavy breathing clan!

Stella Marie’s writing becomes ever more eloquent in this novel, perhaps because of the innate eloquence of the period. But catch the Renaissance glow in her opening paragraphs – ‘Rome, late summer 1489. The sun lowered through the west window, bathing a corner in yellow light. Time stood still as a dazzling, ivory-skinned angel stepped out of the shadows with hair so blond, it could be white. Thick lashes lowered to the tops of pink cheeks and demure eyes stared at the floor. Stunned by her beauty, every thought in Bernardo’s head vanished except for those in the little head below his navel. The palest blue eyes he’d ever seen met his and he gasped, unwilling to move for fear the heavenly vision would disappear. A slight smile played upon her heart shaped lips below a pert nose.’

The author distills the action of this Renaissance tale, making the sprawling story make sense for the readers new to the genre. But first she offers some notes – ‘The story is inspired by a true story in the fifteenth century of how a woman saved the village Soriano by sounding an alarm. Each year, even to the present, the town celebrates with a huge hazelnut festival and Renaissance fair. In my story, our heroine is not old, rather too beautiful. She disguises herself as a doctor, a young man, and even a nun. No matter what, men lust after her. Our hero is smitten but has many responsibilities to his family, including an engagement to a whining thirteen year old. There are moments of passion, of war, and finally, of succumbing to their ultimate destiny. The synopsis pulls it together: ‘Tonight, Aurelia's uncle plans to steal Soriano away from Rodrigo Borgia. Although she doesn't give a fig who owns the town that nearly stoned her to death, her handsome captain is behind bars. She should never have agreed to marry him, especially not upside down and over his shoulder. What is it about Bernardo's new wife? The beautiful angel refuses to trust him, not even after he weds her without a dowry. She wields a firearm like a pirate, disguises herself as a male doctor, and nearly drives him mad. And yet he can't go on without her. How can a mere man convince a woman like that to come home?’

Few authors could get away with an erotica affairs tied into the tropes of the Renaissance – the pope, the Borgia types, the philosopher doctors, etc - but Stella Marie makes that additive to the story. On her website (a great one!) she offers some of her philosophy for her stories about strong, savvy, sexy heroines; ‘How does a person like me throw back good karma into the world? I do it with my stories. When I started writing, I vowed I would write about strong heroines facing adversity, and overcoming. Why? Because I truly believe that we become what we think about. If we dream about having someone dominate us, that is no doubt what we will attract. I’m not saying don’t ever read those fun books, I’m suggesting to balance your reading. Dream about being strong.’ And with that bit of insight we can better understand why her books are such successes – great stories by a woman who cares. And the steam she creates will satisfy the most eager erotica admirers! Grady Harp, September 16

This book was a gift from the author for an unbiased review

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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