Thursday, April 29, 2010

IN REVIEW: Brava, Valentine

In Adriana Trigiani’s follow up to Very Valentine, Valentine Roncalli is back in Italy and attending her grandmother Teodora’s wedding. Teodora is planning on staying in Italy after the wedding and settling down with her new Italian husband. This means the family business that they share, the Angelini Shoe Company, is without its long-time manager. Valentine, as Teodora’s apprentice, was always expected to take over. When Teodora and Valentine meet to discuss the business’s future, Teodora shocks her granddaughter by including her grandson and Valentine’s almost-estranged brother Alfred as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer. Just last year, Alfred had tried to convince everyone that the best option for the shoe company was to sell it’s long term location in Greenwich Village and perhaps even shut down the not-so-profitable operation altogether. Valentine wonders as she and the rest of her family depart Italy how she could ever successfully work with her brother on a day-to-day basis.

Valentine has two things that are really bothering her. The first is Gianluca, her new step-grandfather’s son who tried to romance her the first time she came to Italy. It seems he hasn’t forgotten his intense attraction to her when they meet again. After a near-miss post-wedding, their mutual attraction still isn’t fulfilled and he takes center stage in Valentine’s thoughts. The other thing plaguing Valentine is the launch of her new economic shoe line, the Bella Rosa. As she prepares to look for manufacturers abroad, she uncovers a family secret. This secret takes her to the shores of Buenos Aires and to meet some extended family members she never knew existed. When Gianluca surprises her during her trip, things definitely heat up. But Valentine’s commitment to work starts to get in the way of her love affair very quickly. Will Valentine be able to resolve work and romance?

I enjoyed this book slightly more than Very Valentine. Many of the smaller elements really worked for me; Valentine's gay friend Gabriel moving into their Perry Street home, her sibling's affair, and the subplot with her renewed friendship with ex-boyfriend Bret. All this goes in the background while Valentine takes center stage, trying to move forward in both her professional and romantic life. While Valentine doesn't know what she wants in the latter, she definitely is a lot more focused with the Angelini Shoe Company in this tale; her focus made me like her more as a character. The loss of one of my favorite characters at the end is sad; it also helps propel the story to a new level. I really liked this story. I hope Valentine Roncalli comes back with her fabulous shoes again soon.

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