Versatile author Lisa T. Bergren took a youthful turn last year with the release of her first YA romance,Waterfall, and within the space of a few months two more books in the River of Time series were born. This romantic and often humorous series follows the adventures of a modern archaeologist's daughters as they stumble upon a pair of handprints in an Italian tomb — and are transported back in time, landing right in the middle of a medieval battle.
In Cascade and Torrent, the two novels that follow Waterfall, Gabi and Lia Bettarini find danger, love, adventure — and three Italian knights who can steam up the room with just a smile. (Oh, yes, they can.) Forced to choose between reuniting with family members in the modern world and staying in the medieval Italy they've grown to love, the She-Wolves of Siena, as Gabi and Lia have come to be known, continue their adventure in Bergren's latest wrinkle in time: Bourne, a novella.
HERE'S THE SITCH!
With the help of a mysterious brotherhood, the Forelli knights have finally recaptured Castello Paratore for Siena, but peace with Firenze (Florence) is still very far away. Lord Marcello Forelli is gravely injured and it is up to his cousin Luca and their brothers-in-arms to keep Castello Forelli and its holdings safe.
A member of the brotherhood, now considered a traitor to his native Firenze, Lord Rodolfo Greco has taken refuge at Castello Forelli, but his colorful history with Gabriella makes things a bit … awkward (to say the least) in light of her new status at the castello. While wrestling with the fear that she could lose Marcello — the love worth traveling 700 years back in time to find — Gabi must deal with Luca's overprotective attention every time the very attractive — and equally dangerous — Lord Greco is about. But even though she has conflicting feelings toward Rodolfo, Gabi's love, duty and loyalty belong to Marcello and Castello Forelli. Though she longs to ride out and lend her own sword to the protection of those she loves, Gabi must stay behind.
But Gabriella isn't the only She-Wolf of Siena and, though two years younger, Lia is more than able to pick up the slack.
Firenze has sent its most elite force to destroy the mysterious brotherhood that threatens its hopes of eventual victory. En route to warn the other members of the brotherhood, Lia is separated from Luca and the rest of her knightly entourage.
Firenze doesn't know as much about the brotherhood as it would like Siena to believe, however. The assassins may soon discover that capturing a She-Wolf of Siena — and extracting that sensitive information — isn't as easy a proposition as they'd hoped.
HITS & MISSES
The first three books of the series star 17-year-old Gabi Bettarini as the lone narrator. Bourne begins through her eyes, as well, but adds younger sister Lia's voice shortly thereafter, flipping back and forth between the girls' points of view for the remainder of the novel. Being so familiar with Gabi's voice, I wondered at first how this would play out. But Bergren does an excellent job of making each young woman's first-person voice unique to her personality. My only disappointment with this book is that it ended. I want more.
Good news! On her blog, Lisa Bergren promises just that: more. I can hardly wait!
Keep in mind that Bourne is the fourth installment (officially numbered 3.1 by the author) in this series and, although there are enough back-story nuggets to allow a new reader to enjoy this novella, reading the preceding three books, in order, is recommended. Not only will you gain a better understanding of how these teens came to be in medieval Italy — and why they're still there! — but you will likely develop a serious-to-severe book crush on Bergren's super-swoon-worthy Italian knights.
Trust me on that one.
TO READ, OR NOT TO READ?
Whether you're still a teen or you've already joined the ranks of adults who love YA romance, the River of Time series is well worth reading in full. And Bourne, with its economic novella length, is a fitting and satisfying addition to the saga.
With rapier sharp wit and a thoroughly romantic cast, Lisa T. Bergren's exceptional story-weaving skills shimmer across the River of Time series. Capturing the same spirit of adventure found in the first three books,Bourne is an absolute gem — romantic fantasy at its addictive best.
(This review originally appeared at USA Today's romance fiction blog, HAPPY EVER AFTER)
Note to our readers: At this time, Bourne is available for purchase in e-book form only. You can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. The other three books in the River of Time series (if you haven't read them yet, make sure you read all three prior to reading Bourne to avoid the dreaded spoiler!) are available in both electronic and paperback form wherever AWESOME books are sold.