Traveling to Italy was Maria’s way of escaping her past and beginning a new life, which she had opened to the will of God.
It was while in Italy she met the man she had asked God to bless her with, seeing that all her choices in the past had led her to being used and treated as cheap.
Her happiness was almost jeopardized when someone from her past came to claim what he thought was his.
Maria Bradford can’t believe her luck when she’s granted the opportunity to volunteer at an orphanage for one year—in Italy. Although it’s a long way from her home in Jamaica, she is eager to explore the world. It doesn’t hurt that she’ll also have a chance to study piano with Signore Paul Mantago. Upon arriving in Italy, Maria stays with her close friend Mike. She knows that Mike is in love with her, but she doesn’t feel the same way about him.
Once she begins working at the orphanage, she forms an intense connection with Peter, a seven-year-old boy who has a limp. This slight disability prevents him from being adopted and Maria’s heart goes out to him.
During her first few days in Italy, Maria travels to the cathedral and prays, asking God to send her a man to share her life with. God answers her prayer months later in the form of a handsome artist- Marco Bertollini.
This is where the story began to fall flat. I could tell by the title, Predestined Love, that the hero and heroine would have a quick connection, aka “insta-love”. I’m ok with love at first sight stories, but they require a high level of chemistry between the characters in order to be believable. It was not the case for this novella. To me, Maria had with Marco, the same amount of chemistry she had with Mike. Which brings me to another point…
A lot of the characters in the story had similar names: Maria, Marco, Mike, Montago, Paul, Peter. It was hard to keep the characters straight because there weren’t any differences in speech patterns, language, or behaviors to help differentiate between them. Without the dialogue tags, I would’ve thought all the characters were one person.
The amount of exposition in the story slowed this novella down. Most of the dialogue came out in long monologues, resulting in conversations that felt unnatural. Instead of a character seamlessly weaving in their background, they would preface it by saying, “Do you want to hear the story about….”
It was explained that Maria went through a lot of conflict in her life, but I don’t feel like this point was shown well. The conflict as a whole could’ve been knocked up a couple notches. There were moments that could have used a higher level or tension, thus adding more Kool-Aid –flavor– to the story, but that didn’t happen. For example, Mike’s love for Maria had the potential to build tension, and create several subplots, but Maria quickly shut him down in the beginning of the book. Not only that, but once Marco and Mike had the chance to meet, they too became instant friends. Which made me feel there was no point in having Mike be in love with Maria in the first place.
I would like to have seen deeper emotions from all the characters. The story could have also used better descriptions of the settings and atmosphere.
Towards the end, Marco’s sweet gestures saved a bit of the story. He went out of his way to secure Maria’s happiness. And even though Paul had lived in an orphanage all his life, the author did a good job of capturing his childlike innocence despite his rough upbringing.
Predestined Love did well at showing unbreakable faith. All the characters had a reason to stop believing in God or turn their backs on their religion, but they never did. When faced with adversity they prayed and asked God for guidance.
This however, was not enough to make up for the other issues in the book. If you like short and simple love at first sight stories, pick up Predestined Love. If you’re like me and prefer your romance with a side of angst, passion, colorful description, and witty dialogue–this book is not for you.