Bella Cigna by Wendi Dass

Bella Cigna by Wendi Dass
Foreign Endearments, Book 1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Devastated by personal loss, Sarah Flynn escapes to Rome where she finds a job teaching English. Only the girls’ school is like a nunnery and she’s expected to speak fluent Italian overnight. What has she gotten herself into? While the beautiful sights rekindle her interest in art, not even her brush finding canvas can heal all the wounds she carries. She’ll need the help of a meddling nun, a nutty mathematician, and a handsome Italian admirer. Can Sarah overcome the insecurities born of a shattered marriage? Will she again take a chance on love?

This is a character driven, drama-infused novel of a very flawed woman trying to find her way back from the betrayal of her husband, someone she trusted implicitly. His leaving Sarah like she was nothing to him was traumatic and sent the heroine into an emotional quagmire.

Sarah’s friend, Meredith, is crucial in not only supporting the heroine, but giving her advice and a shoulder to cry on when needed. She also acts as a sounding board on and off throughout the novel. Another person that interacts with Sarah is her mother. The relationship is very similar to real life – a relationship that bounces between love, annoyance, impatience, gratefulness, supportiveness and every other quirk that can exist between a mother and a daughter. There are quite a number of interpersonal relationships sprinkled throughout the book – not all of them are benign. Then there’s Anna. I liked her. She is a young, quirky and energetic young woman who ends up taking the older Sarah under her wing. It’s up to the reader to decide if that is a good or bad thing. I think Anna was a good-hearted young lady who was still maturing during the course of the novel. Sister Maria is another secondary character that I felt was crucial to the romance’s success.

When I said that Sarah was flawed; that’s an understatement. Lying by omission comes back to haunt her. Going against her better judgement and drinking to excess in a foreign country also comes into play as a plot conflict. Her lack of self-esteem, her lack of confidence in herself as a woman, courtesy of her ex-husband, messes with her decision-making skills and she makes some bad ones. Repeatedly. Then she comes up against a sexual predator, so that may be a trigger for some readers. Sarah goes through so many ups and downs, it made me dizzy. Eventually things even out and a reader can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the hints of an HEA become realized.

This is ultimately a romance story, and Eduardo and his daughter are the bright spots that made this novel enjoyable. I really adored every interaction between Sarah and Lucia, Eduardo’s daughter. I felt they were the most beautiful exchanges in the whole book. Eduardo is a very nice guy, handsome and rich, but he can be very emotional and easily hurt. But he is also very forgiving, and that part of his nature is key in the success of the romance.

The happy ever after is hard won but satisfying in the end. Actually, it’s a very happy HEA and I was thrilled for Sarah. After everything she went through, she deserved to be happy. Bella Cigna is not an easy read but it’s a good story with a nice romance between two people that sound like someone you could meet in real life.

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