Reading Assignment Challenge: All I Believe by Alexa Land
Nico Dombruso has learned to keep the world at arm's length after being badly burned by his last relationship. Even so, he decides to let himself enjoy a summer fling while on vacation in Italy. It's just sex after all, so what's the harm?
He gets so much more than he bargained for when he meets gorgeous, mysterious, art dealer Luca Caruso. The
connection between them is undeniable, and for the first time in years, Nico starts to consider the possibility of trusting his tattered heart to someone again.
But when a secret is revealed that shakes him to his core and threatens to tear his family apart, Nico runs so far and so fast that no one, not even the man who was making him believe he could love again, might ever be able to reach him.
This book has one of the hands-down best beginnings to a book I have ever read...from Nana in the airport playing keep away with the vegan bacon lube (the majority of which Nico ends up wearing) to the stripper outfits she gets him to wear when his luggage is lost to the dogs who literally tear Nico's pants off on his first day in Italy...all of it kept me in stitches. And then Luca shows up with his sexy suits and incredibly caring ways and my heart melted. Learning about Nico's first kiss by the fountain and then discovering the amazing connection to his current situation, all of it was beautiful. And that was just the first chapter or two...
Watching Nico, who has been horribly burned by a previous lover, slowly trusting Luca who clearly is keeping something secret kept me on the edge of my seat. Spending time with them on their own as well as together with Nana, Jessie, and the Italian branch of the Dombruso family allows me to see so many different facets of themselves and both Nico and Luca were able to escape the self-imposed restrictions they had placed on themselves for various reasons. There were times when they had to be apart but those only allowed us to dig deeper into Nico's psyche and watch him as he played caretaker to those he cared about--which is a rather large circle of people. When he and Luca reconnect, their bone-deep relief at not being alone anymore, at finally being with the one person truly meant to be their own, was powerful, but in Alexa Land's hands it never crossed the line into maudlin--she can walk the tightrope of just enough without ever tipping over into too much better than any other author I know.
And then a rather large bombshell is dropped and as bombs tend to do, it obliterated what was there and caused a lot of damage--the process of putting things to rights again had some very far-reaching consequences--things actually went quite a bit further than I expected them to do with ripples that might have quite an impact of future books. Getting Nico and Luca back together required quite a bit of fancy footwork and a lot of people had to work together to pull it off, but luckily there were plenty of people willing to do whatever it took to see these two get their happy-ever-after. I also loved that Nana meets someone perfect for her as well--after all the love she has showered on her loved ones, it was beautiful (and hilarious) to see her getting to join in the love-fest.
All in all, another amazing entry in the Firsts and Forevers series. Having read three of these books this month I have gotten rather spoiled with the hilarity that is Nana and her clan, as well as the romantic wonderfulness involved when two men who are utterly perfect for each other come together. I am lucky enough to still have Hitman's Holiday to read but then I will have to wait until Jesse's story to come out and I am not sure how I will be able to do so...His character has been quietly burrowing into my heart over the course of the last several books and while I absolutely trust that Alexa Land will write the perfect book and the perfect partner for him, I am not ashamed to admit that the wait might very seriously kill me.