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Friday, May 15, 2015

ARC Review: Vanished in Venice by Stacey Joy Netzel

The end of the Italy Intrigue series is here. The last Sanders sibling gets her turn in the spotlight and it was one hell of an adventure!

Format: .mobi (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Publisher: Stacey Joy Netzel
Release Date: May 19, 2015

The cross is the key and hearts are on the line. But can love survive a double-cross when the mystery is unlocked?

One year after being shot in Italy, Rachel Sanders returns in search of the jeweled cross that triggered a heartbreaking family betrayal. Determined to keep the treasure from her mother’s greedy hands, she’s caught off guard by the interference of an irresistibly charming rival. His unexpected offer to help might be self serving, but she’s thrown into a precarious situation where she can’t refuse...and finds she doesn’t want to anyway.

Nick Marshall has a family legacy to recover and a score to settle. Anyone with the last name Sanders is fair game—until he meets Rachel. She’s gorgeous, smart, sexy, and doesn’t buy one word of his cover story. When their attraction combusts, each kiss makes his deception burn like acid, and he begins to question his end goal.

But they’re not the only ones after the cross. Ruthless players willing to do anything to recover the treasure first put Nick and Rachel’s lives on the line. Despite all the secrets and lies, lines quickly blur between the con and the real deal. Can love survive a double-cross when the mystery is unlocked?

A year after being shot, Rachel Sanders has returned to Italy. Determined to keep an ancient jeweled cross out of her greedy mother’s hands, Rachel must reconnect with her criminal past. Quickly discovering that she is in over her head, Rachel must reluctantly join forces with Nick Marshall, a man with a score to settle against her family and more secrets than the cross they’re looking for. Trust doesn’t come easy to Nick or Rachel but with others willing to do anything to get their hands on the cross, they don’t have much choice.

Hands down my favorite book in the series! The first two books were a wonderful combination of action, suspense and wry humor and I’m glad to see that author Stacey Joy Netzel continued that in this book. She saw great opportunities for humor and didn’t pass them up.

From the moment the book begins until its exciting conclusion, Vanished in Venice is all blood pounding chases, near misses with death and heart stopping romance. Even as Nick and Rachel are falling in love, they’re constantly looking over their shoulders for imminent danger. I loved that they were never really safe, and that they both had such huge trust issues with each other.

It was completely natural for Nick and Rachel not to trust each other, there’s a long standing family history between them, but they’re also accomplished liars so that didn’t help things between them. I loved that the internal conflicts they both had pushed them as individuals to overcome their distrust of one another and in Rachel’s case, helped her come to terms with her childhood and determine what she wanted from her life.

Rachel’s struggle with her past was interesting to me. As the oldest Sanders sibling, she retained the most memories of life alongside her con-artist parents. Those memories were brought back in full force whenever she had to utilize one of the many skills she learned from them. One of Rachel’s biggest hurdles that she had to overcome was the guilt she carried about her past role in her parent’s cons. Though she admitted that there were some elements of her life with her parents that she missed, it really put her at a crossroads. I loved how honest she was, at least with herself about her past and how vulnerable she was about her future. She had enough confidence and back bone to prevent her from being run over by a man like Nick but she also had an insecure side of her that kept her from coming off as invincible and cold.

I’m glad that the author chose Nick Marshall for Rachel. Though he had a few appearances in Run to Rome, he just had too many secrets and potential to be left as a minor character. My initial theory of who he was and why he was really after the cross was so wrong I’m embarrassed I even thought it. The truth is much more satisfying and cast Nick in a new light. He’s more than just an ordinary man with a grudge. He can be a relentless flirt but he can also be protective, gentle, kind and funny. Like Rachel though, he battles an endless amount of guilt that pushes him to make decisions that he never thought he’d have to make.

Vanished in Venice, while its own story did remind me of a modern Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade which isn’t a bad thing because that movie rocks! But what made this book stand out more to me was that Rachel wasn’t sidelined while Nick made out like a hero. She’s part of the action and danger; she’s actively contributing to the task. Rachel comes with her own set of skills that in the end prove invaluable. I’m always a fan of a true partnership between a couple and a mutual respect that Nick and Rachel have in abundance.

As much as I enjoyed Vanished in Venice, I was reluctant to read the last few pages because then I would have to accept that it was truly over. I’ve loved this series, these siblings and their background from the start. I definitely owe fellow blogger and friend Danielle (The Book Whore Blog) big time for introducing me to this series. The Sanders siblings will always be one of my favorite families.

Final Verdict: Do I have to say goodbye?

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