All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Secret Santo – Carla Caruso

on December 2, 2014

Secret SantoSecret Santo
Carla Caruso
Destiny Romance
2014, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Holly is a bookseller by day but her alter ego Sultry Scarlet reviews books, particularly romance novels. Armed with an invitation to an exclusive publisher Christmas party, Holly is determined that she will meet her hero, author AJ Ruffo. Not much is known about the mysterious man, who writes under a pseudonym but Holly is pretty convinced that he’ll be tall, dark and handsome.

At the party, Holly is saved from falling by Santo Randolfi and he definitely fits the bill of what Holly assumes AJ Ruffo will look like. He’s tall, dark (Meditteranean of course!) and very handsome. And he’s admitted to her that he writes under a pseudonym. To Holly’s disappointment though, he denies being AJ Ruffo, instead hinting that he’s a romance writer, perhaps the author behind the book that Holly just wrote a scathing review of on her site….

Well it’s hard to believe, but it’s December already! I couldn’t believe it when I began scheduling reviews for this week and had to change to December in the drop down menu. I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. December means Christmas novellas and there’s a cute little one here from Carla Caruso. It’s very short, much shorter than I actually thought it was going to be when I requested it but there’s lots to enjoy.

For a start, our heroine is both a book seller and a blogger! But she writes her reviews under a pseudonym, using Sultry Scarlet to post reviews of mostly romance novels but also some other types of books, especially those by her literary crush, AJ Ruffo. Holly was relying on her more outgoing work colleague and friend to accompany her to the party but she begs off at the last minute, leaving Holly alone. Holly meets Santo Randolfi almost immediately when he saves her from falling and the two of them spend most of the party together. Holly is determined to discover the real identity of AJ Ruffo and when she meets Santo she’s certain that he’s the man behind some of her favourite books.

Although this book is very cute, it’s super short and so therefore I don’t think either of the characters are as fleshed out as they could be. We do get a bit of an idea about Holly but I’d have liked to know more about her background, particularly her relationship with her mother and how it has affected her. I do think it’s interesting the way she created this image of AJ Ruffo in her head and was clearly fascinated with him – but was it the man or the persona? In this day and age of blogs, facebook and twitter, it’s possible to access authors pretty easily so it’s feasible the mystery of a pseudonym drew Holly in just as much as the books she was reading. We learn less about Santo – only really get the bare minimum there, which makes him a bit two dimensional. I think this book would’ve actually been much more interesting if it had played out the way Santo suggested, not the way Holly assumed in the beginning. In fact, I really hoped it would.

If you’re looking for something really short and sweet to put you in the mood for Christmas then this book is a pretty good way to do that. I had to let a few things slide to enjoy the story and this one kind of reminded me why short stories and novellas aren’t always my thing. I need more usually – more information, more backstory, more between the hero and heroine, more chemistry. I think this book could’ve gone several different ways and that there was a really strong story to support any of those ways, if it had just been a little bit longer and a little bit more in depth. I like Carla Caruso’s writing though it’s just I prefer longer stories, so I can get to know the characters more and involve myself in their conflicts and resolutions. This is a nice read but I wanted more.


Book #248 of 2014

AWWW2014Secret Santo is book #90 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014



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