Satin Romance (2021)
Reviewed by Diana Coyle for Reader Views (01/2022)
In “Maestro” by Melissa Rea, readers meet Maria Gabriella Constanzi, “Gabriella,” as she’s standing on the gallows one day before her 19th birthday in 1718. As she recalls her life to the crowd standing before her, she has to wonder if she hadn’t gotten pregnant and sent away to the special convent school in Ospedale della Pieta in Venice, Italy, how differently things might have turned out. If she hadn’t given into her carnal desires would she still be standing on the gallows before she reached her 19th birthday?
“Maestro” is a novel like none other than I have ever read. I was taken on a remarkable journey of Gabriella’s life. Born to the Count and Countess of Pompeii, growing up of a noble life should have kept Gabriella on the straight and narrow, but being a curious teen, she makes ill-advised choices. On the verge of an arranged marriage, Gabriella has disgraced herself and her family by carrying another man’s child.
As I turned the pages, I found myself being extremely critical of Gabriella and her actions because her choices changed her life so completely. Once she was sent away to the convent for orphan children, life was nowhere close to the noble upbringing she was accustomed to. The one benefit for her though was the convent specialized in teaching music, which gave her the opportunity to teach and continue her love of making music. Fast forward to just shy of her 19th birthday, Gabriella stood on the gallows worrying if she would have her life taken from her because she now had also found herself accused of murder. As I read, all I could think was that Gabriella had a tough go at bad luck for many years even though she was so young. Regrettably though, a lot of her misfortune was brought on by her own naïve actions that drastically altered her life in the end.
Ms. Rea successfully told the story of Gabriella, which in turn made her readers sympathize with her main female character because of the ongoing string of misfortunes that seemed to follow Gabriella to Venice as well. It took me a little time to warm up to Gabriella only because she seemed like a spoiled noble child that should have been more responsible than she was. I admit, as I continued reading, I warmed up to Gabriella and began feeling all her emotions no matter what the circumstance was that brought her to that moment. Although Gabriella was the main character in the story, the author did a wonderful job developing all her characters, which aided in telling Gabriella’s story. Each character’s part in the book helped tell us of the trials and tribulations that Gabriella was going through.
Overall, this was an enjoyable historical romance. Along with the engaging characters, the storyline flowed very smoothly and the settings are divinely portrayed. It’s an exquisite look into the lives of women in the 18th century. 5 stars!