The Visconti Devils
by Ria Dimitra
Aventine Press

"Promise me you will not dumb yourself down, you will not belittle yourself… I’m not afraid of intelligent women."

When Maggie and Michael meet and fall in love, their quick courtship seems almost perfect. Not only do their temperaments and chemistries match, but they share a passion for art history, specifically for a rare set of Renaissance-era tarot cards, the pursuit of which leads them to Milan, Italy. There, they are swept into a quest that takes on a mystical significance far deeper and more enduring than their own lives and artistic interests.

This book is a suspenseful love story that blends elements of romance, fantasy, art history, and theology. It also knows a little something about people, timing, and age. The novel suggests that, for a woman, love and courtship look different at age 37 than at 22. The subtlety of time and what it means for an ingenue to find herself nearing 40 and admitting to feelings like lust and independence are keys to Maggie and her courtship with Michael. This is a man who sees her lash-batting act, her smooth sidestepping of intellectual topics, and who tells her to cut the crap—he’s looking for a grown woman who thinks for herself. That Michael’s life experience goes deeper than Maggie could have imagined is part of the unexpected and admittedly odd journey the couple takes together.

The book provides adequate foreshadowing and suspense to keep the pages turning, but the denouement of the story and of Maggie’s full intellectual glory explode with uneven pacing. From first date etiquette to theological debate and paranormal phenomena is a long way to go in a brief courtship. Still, perhaps the author knows that a 37-year-old woman who wants a husband and children and who believes she has found her perfect man is no woman to trifle with. Angels and demons, step aside. Maggie has found her man.

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