Gladly Beyond by Nichole Van
An ancient curse, fractured at the birth of three brothers.
Two strangers helplessly drawn to each other.
A love story two hundred years in the making.
Claire Raythorn arrives in Florence, Italy, shattered, alone, and anxious to rebuild her life—preferably one without men. But she soon finds herself hunted and haunted— literally—when a mysterious stalker dressed like Mr. Darcy from BBC central casting appears in her photos. And only her photos. Who is this man? And what does his ghostly presence mean?
Dante D’Angelo simply wants to safeguard his brothers, despite the family curse that hounds his vision. But then Claire Raythorn walks into his life, untouched somehow by his curse. Soon, everything Dante thought he knew about himself starts to unravel, dragging Claire down with him.
Set against the lush backdrop of Florence, Italy—both past and present—Claire and Dante fight for a future together. But, first, they must uncover their shared past . . .
The thing I like about Van’s writing is that she builds up the love between hero and heroine in plausible increments. I think that’s why I always end up reading her novels in one sitting until the early morning hours; I know that in the NEXT scene the characters are going to finally realize their love. But then you get to the next scene and you simply want more and more. And I mean that in the best possible way.
I’ve always thought Italian cities are like guys I knew in college:
Rome—the hot frat boy I was dying to go out with (and I did, and it was awesome). But, turns out, everyone dated Rome.
Naples—Rome’s frat house roommate. The guy on no sleep and his tenth can of Red Bull. No one messed with him cause he knew people who knew people . . . catch my drift . . .
Venice—the dreamily gorgeous philosophy major. Brilliantly eccentric but exotic enough that no one quite knew what to make of him.
Milan—the second-year MBA student who was big on power-ties and power-lunches. Basically, the organized guy who held everyone else together.
And then there was Florence.
Firenze, to those who knew him.
Quiet and unassuming. When we first met, I wondered what all the fuss was about.
But Firenze . . . he was a subtle seducer. If I asked, he could talk for hours about art and history. But, generally, Firenze simply listened. Peaceful. Steady. Ready to shoulder my sorrows.
Firenze is the guy I never got out of my system.
I hit the ground floor and took two steps toward the large wooden front door.
How would the next few weeks play out? Like being a contestant on Survivor? The Great Race?
A male voice stopped me. “Just the person I was waiting for.”
I closed my eyes.
Nope. Things were shaping up to be The Bachelorette.
Pasting on my polite grin, which truthfully was more of a grimace by this point, I turned around.
“Dante, please.” He stepped out of the shadows at the base of the stairs. A window in the stairwell illuminated half of him. Even that half was huge.
Whereas I looked down on Pierce and was eye-level with the Colonel, I had to look up, up at Dante. At five ten myself, it takes a lot to make me feel short. But he somehow managed it. He had to be at least six four and linebacker-wide. Did he play football in high school?
His dark, wavy hair had been smoothly slicked back when he arrived earlier. But I had watched it creep forward as the morning went along until a section of it came loose, swinging down to kiss his jaw. My fingers itched to brush it back.
Dante was the type of man I had always had a sweet tooth for. Until I learned, oh-so-painfully, how bad for my health they could be.
Love’s Shadow by Nichole Van
Branwell D’Angelo . . .
Six years ago, I fell in love with Lucy—my brother’s girlfriend. Stupid of me, I know, but sometimes the heart doesn’t listen to reason.
Six years, I’ve lived on the sidelines. Seeing him love her, be with her, bask in her sunshine . . .
I watched her break his heart and then cleaned up the shattered pieces of him she left behind.
She’s the one woman I can’t have but still the only one my soul wants.
Now she’s back in our lives and needs the unique help only us D’Angelos can give.
He’s not emotionally strong enough to face her. So he’s sending me instead . . .
When tragedy strikes Lucy Snow on a visit to Italy, she can’t bring herself to call any of the D’Angelo brothers for help. There are consequences for falling in love with your ex-boyfriend’s brother. But Lucy desperately needs Branwell’s paranormal skills and his gift of Sight. And if seeing him will negate at least three years of therapy? Well, it’s a price she is willing to pay.
Thrown together in a desperate bid to save an innocent life, Branwell and Lucy struggle against their shared past, only to realize that something even more dangerous is reaching through the weight of time to stalk their every move . . .
Oh. My. Gosh! The feels! The feels are real my fellow bookworms! My emotions were all over the place while reading this book! I laughed, I yelled, I got teary eyed, I growled in frustration, I let out little dreamy sighs and fell in love right along with Branwell and Lucy. I can’t even begin to describe the amazingness of this book! One of my favorite parts of this book are the sour “punny” bears! *giggles* Oh! I can’t forget about that epilogue! Love… love… LOVE! And talk about swoony! *dreamy sigh* I had the hardest time putting this book down! I have discovered a love/hate relationship with real life. Haha.
“Wait, wait. Don’t move,” a woman’s voice said.
I froze, fork hovered over a particularly decadent piece of strawberry laden gooey-ness.
I lifted my head and encountered the most amazing eyes. Blue-green and wide-set. The smell of lemon-verbena and sunshine drifted over me. That fiery red hair tumbled around the gentle curve of her jaw. Window-light sculpted the arch of her rosebud lips.
Freckles. Freckles everywhere. Stars dotting her skin.
She was . . . stunning. Magnificent. Breathtaking in an unconventional way.
Maybe it was the jet lag, or the sugar and caffeine hitting my system in a knockout one-two punch.
But . . . it jolted me hard. That bolt of lightning.
This girl . . . woman . . .
Something about her tugged at me. A siren call of wedding bells and growing old hand-in-hand.
Then I noticed her t-shirt—The Empurr Strikes Back scrawled underneath Star Wars-themed, anime kittens.
Yep. That sealed the deal.
I was going to fall in love with her. So hard. So fast.
“So what’s your brand of crazy?” she asked.
After a pause, I went with, “I won’t eat anything green unless it’s a vegetable.”
She cocked her head, processing.
“Green M&M’s? Skittles? Gummy bears?” she asked.
“Nope. Leave ‘em all in the bag.”
“Green frosting? Sprinkles? Mold?”
“Nope. Nada. And please, no.”
“So why no green?” she asked, genuine, sincere.
I pondered options and then went with, “Non-vegetal green things are the charlatans of the food world.”
“That’s about the best sentence I’ve heard all week.” She gave that giggly, wispy laugh of hers. “What about avocados? I mean, they act like a vegetable, but they’re really a fruit.”
“Masquerading vegetables get a pass. So do herbs.”
“What about kiwi?”
“The jury is still out on kiwi. They’re something of a Franken-fruit, to be honest . . . all that fuzzy hair and the tiny, crunchy seeds.”
She laughed again. “Please tell me you have no Irish heritage. You would destroy any St. Patty’s Day celebration.”
“None.” I smiled, shaking my head. “Though, I did have an Irish roommate once. He thought I was, and I quote, ‘A wee bit mad.’”
Lightning Struck by Nichole Van
Chiara doesn’t like Jack. Jack doesn’t like Chiara.
The story should end there.
Except . . . maybe Chiara finds herself daydreaming far too often about Jack. And maybe Jack finds Chiara aggravating in an adorable sorta way.
Maybe Jack and Chiara find themselves falling in love.
The problem, of course, remains.
Jack is a ghost.
And Chiara is not.
Jack Knight-Snow has had a bad year for losing things. So far he has lost a ship full of ancient treasure, his family, his friends, his title, his lands and money, his fiancé, the century into which he was born . . . oh, and his physical body. Worse, feisty Chiara D’Angelo might just finish the job and make him lose his mind.
For her part, Chiara simply wants to help Jack get his body back and move on with his life. She doesn’t want to like his snarky humor or his gorgeous eyes or the way he accepts her exactly as she is. She’s a hot mess when it comes to romantic relationships. Case in point . . . she’s developing feelings for a ghost.
But tackling the problem of Jack’s ghostliness is not straightforward. Soon, Jack and Chiara find themselves embroiled in a mystery which creates more questions about the D’Angelo brothers’ gifts of Second Sight. Set against the backdrop of Tuscany, Italy, Jack and Chiara race to uncover answers about the past before becoming history themselves.
Nichole Van has hit paydirt yet again with this latest Brothers Maledetti book! Chiara’s story has swoonworthy romance that is 100% clean, as well as laugh out loud humor and superb storytelling to make up this amazing, unputdownable book! Although you don’t have to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one, I’d highly recommend reading them to get further backstory on the D’Angelo family and their talents. Nichole Van is one of the few authors on my “instant-buy” list and this latest installment is another reminder why. Five stars just don’t seem enough.
“Jack, we’re all concerned about you,” I said the words carefully, keeping my tone flat and not screechy like I felt. “We’ve been concentrating on trying to find answers for your ghost-like state, but I think the constant focus is hurting more than it’s helping. It’s like picking at a scab over and over, never allowing it to heal. Maybe it’s time to take a step back from our research.”
Jack paused, giving me his best Regency-era, Lord Knight stare.
I had a love/hate relationship with that stare—I hated that I kinda loved it. It was snooty with an edge of dry sardonic humor, and it challenged every womanly impulse in my body to kiss it off his face.
Not that I would do that, of course, even if it were possible. But the urge was there.
“Would you prefer me to continue my exploration of modern names?” he asked.
I bit my lip, unsure how to reply. It was a decent threat.
Jack had gone through this whole phase where he mocked contemporary celebrity names.
Example: Brittany Spears.
It had been days of, ‘Pardon Siri, but who are the Spears of Brittany?’ and ‘Are Brittany Spears similar to Celtic weaponry from northern France?’
“I have yet to understand why Ryan cares so much about goslings,” Jack continued. “Does he have a fetish for young poultry?”
Nichole Van is a writer, photographer, designer and generally disorganized crazy person. Though originally from Utah, she currently lives on the coast of Scotland with three similarly crazy children and one sane, very patient husband who puts up with all of them. In her free time, she enjoys long walks along the Scottish lochs and braes. She does not, however, enjoy haggis.
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