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As an infant, Noah Di Luca was turned over to his paternal grandmother, Nonna, to be raised. He has two half-brothers, Rafe and Eli, each of whom have a different mother, although Noah did not know the identity of his mother, not until much later. Their father, Gavino, is a movie star, who delights in affairs with gorgeous women. With Noah, Nonna felt as if she had been given a second chance at motherhood, although she had a hand in raising his two half-brothers also. Ten years ago, after graduating from high school, Noah had taken a trip to Europe. There he had discovered the identity of his mother, who was the leader of a family of international thieves. He returned from Europe as a very different man, one who seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and refuses to confide in anyone. To his family, he tries to put on a carefree front, but inside he is tortured, knowing he has ruined his own life. Aware that his life is in danger, he has been afraid to fall in love. So Noah dates a bevy of women, refusing to fall in love with any of them…except for one. He had fallen hard for Penelope Alonso, but knowing he had no future with her, he had broken it off. Later, he heard that she had married and was relieved that she was beyond his reach. Now he manages the Bella Terra resort owned by the Di Lucas.
At the time of the birth of Noah’s grandfather Anthony, famous winemaker Massimo was known for giving families a bottle of his wine upon the birth of a son. But on the day of Anthony’s birth, there was another son born on the other side of town, Joseph. However, this is the time of Prohibition and revenuers have destroyed all of the winemaker’s cache, except for one bottle. With two rival families and only one bottle of wine, Massimo presents the bottle to Anthony and gives Joseph a silver rattle. Coveting the bottle of wine, Joseph had almost killed Anthony in his attempts to gain custody of the bottle, which is also suspected to contain some stolen pink diamonds, which had gone missing at about the same time. Noah’s family had been in possession of the bottle of wine at the death of his grandfather, who had hidden it before his death.
As a young woman, Penelope Alonso had fallen hard for Noah and had thought that he loved her too, until he cruelly broke up with her. Illegitimate, not knowing who her father was and growing up in a ghetto with her single mother, she had fought her way out, graduating with an interior decorator degree. She met Keith, who had been kind and helped bring her out of her shell again. So she married him, but he died in an automobile accident and shortly after that, she discovered that her mother was in the advanced stages of cancer. Losing her mother, she had felt all alone in the world.
Now nine years after her breakup with Noah, Penelope is back in Bella Terra, having discovered the identity of her father. After the death of her mother, Penelope received word that her father was Joseph Bianchin, and she is determined to confront him. So she returns, knowing she stands the risk of running into Noah again, but she never expected to run into him on her first day back in town.
But she is not the only new arrival in town. Noah’s mother has kidnapped Joseph, keeping him a prisoner in his own home and has forced her son Noah to wear a collar, which will detonate if he does not find the bottle of wine with the diamonds within eight days. Noah does not let anyone else know for fear that anyone he confides in will lose their lives. With time running out, Noah finds that his feelings for Penelope have not changed. Can he find the bottle of wine before his time runs out, or will he forfeit his life and lose the chance of a life with Penelope?
An exhilarating read, BETRAYAL, the third novel in award winning author Christina Dodd’s BELLA TERRA DECEPTION series, is an exciting, action-packed contemporary romantic suspense. Although I had not read the first two books in this series, I had no problem reading this one as a standalone. At no time was I left confused, as I zipped through this story. With this said, I have to admit that I look forward to reading the first two books; REVENGE AT BELLA TERRA, Rafe and Brooke’s story, and SECRETS AT BELLA TERRA, Eli and Chloe’s story. Filled with intrigue, evil villains, family dynamics, suspense, witty repartee, life threatening danger, passion, romance and a once-in-a-lifetime love, this is a story you will remember long after the last page is read and the book is closed. A definite keeper! Do not miss Ms. Dodd's latest adrenaline-charged novel, BETRAYAL
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