Where does one even begin? The Devil and Via by Marie Treanor started off sooooo well but towards the end, the story completely fell apart. I advise to not read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled. I hold nothing back and it isn’t pretty.
The story opens with a Satanist ritual. Our heroine, Via, is the unlucky victim, leading her pursuers to a foot chase through the woods. Luck her, she finally reaches the road and spots a car coming down the road. She flags the driver, it turns out to be a taxi that starts to pass her up but decides to come back and give her a lift.
Her savior is Giancarlo di Rioli. He is the Good Samaritan who takes her to the Pisa hotel so that she can gather her things and flee. Via was in Italy for a job opportunity. An Italian businessman friend of her neighbor’s needed a native English-speaker to brush up on their son’s conversation before attending University. Via had been sacked from her whisky bottling job in Scotland and the opportunity was timely. However, things didn’t stay happy long. After a couple of weeks of teaching, she gets kidnapped and is the sacrificial lamb for the local devil worshipping group.
Via gets attached to Giancarlo because he saved her life. Her dependency on him is understandable. He seems to be concerned for safety and more than willing to help. He eventually gets Via to talk to him after her shock wears off; she tells him about her kidnapping;he confirms to her that Italy has it’s share of local crime including devil worshipping. It’s been rampant lately with one murder that they know about and previous kidnappings in the area. After Via is safely established and tucked away in another part of the city, she decides to stays in Pisa. You’d think after being kidnapped and nearly losing her life, she’d fly back home to Scotland? Uh. No. Not this girl.
Via does file a police report with the Carabinieri police and considers the matter closed. The Carabineiri seems to know the people who kidnapped Via or at least suspect them of devil worshiping. All they need is to catch the elusive leader of the cult. Since Via has no plans to go home and has been touring the city and enjoying the sights of Italy and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, she meets up with Giancarlo again and he talks her into working with the police to catch the people who kidnapped her. Offers her to be bait–of course with protection and a possible romance. She reluctantly accepts the offer.
The people the police are after are Marinuzzi Senior and his two sons. Via was able to recognize from voice alone that it was Marinuzzi Senior dressed in the ritual robes and about to sacrifice her to the devil. His accomplices were his two teenage sons along with more locals in the area. After Via identifies the two boys to the police, they are soon arrested but without any evidence against the father, he is allowed to stay free. This was never clear to me. After the failed attempt to kidnap and sacrifice Via, the Marinuzzi family decided to let her go. Cut their losses. After all, they are a well respected family in Italy. What would the world think if they knew that they worshipped the devil?
That’s the suspense part of the plot. Now for the romance. The romance started off so nice. The flirting and talking; the chemistry was really, really nice. Giancarlo has secrets and boundaries around himself and for good reason. He’s reluctant to start anything while Via seems to be a cat in heat. The problem started for me with Via’s mental lusting. Constant mental lusting over Giancarlo. It was always–what can she do to get him to sleep with her? Should I wear this? Move like this? It’s always in the forefront of her freaking brain. Then there’s Giancarlo’s teasing and then his abrupt refusal to sleep with her after his friends leaks something very personal about him. He closes off completely.
The romance had so much potential–I just got tired of Via’s being a bitch in heat. Giancarlo is a great hero however. I found him a very interesting character, very well characterized. He’s described as having a bald head with tattoos snaking up his arm. Sounds like an unsavory character but he has a few secrets up his sleeve. He is not what you might think. Unfortunately, his character couldn’t save this story. Giancarlo deserved much better than what he got. I wish I could have just erased Via from the picture. And some parts of this story with it.
Yeah. It was that bad.
What made me so mad was the drastic turn of events as the plot progressed—this was after the romance went sour for me. After Via is set up as bait for Marinuzzi’s devil worshiping gang, she simply becomes TSTL. Talk about exasperated. I just had to shake my head as I continued to read. Via is set up as bait. She goes home with Giancarlo to the Tuscon coast with his family since it is closest to where Marinuzzi seems to live and hang out. The goal is to get his attention. Once his attention is caught he decides to go for Via again. Amazing. It seems that Via is too good a catch to pass up. Why? Because she is the seventh child of a seventh child. Want to say that three times? She seems to have “gifts” of telepathy, insight, things. These “gifts” seem to elude her, however, but they spring up into full action at the wrong fucking time.
Case and point: Giancarlo has already got Marinuzzi’s attention with Via. So, towards the end of the story, Giancarlo leaves and tells Via that he has an errand to run. It’s the middle of the fucking night and he tells her to stay in the house. Do you think she listens? Uh. No. Via has had doubts that she has telepathy, doesn’t think she has “the gift” that Marinuzzi Senior wants from her but a couple of times she has heard him in her head. Is she crazy? That would be a yes from me but nobody asked me but I digress.
So, when Giancarlo leaves the house, Via starts getting these telepathic messages from Marinuzzi Senior. She’s startled but then she starts really letting him into her head and the funny thing is that he starts answering back. No explanation on how he got his telepathic power—oh, wait– he’s sacrificed others for their “gifts” so I’m sure that we are to assume that he is using these gifts now to sucker Via out of the house. It doesn’t take much convincing or even proof. He threatens her with Giancarlo’s life, telepathing messages saying that he will kill him if she doesn’t meet him at a designated place. Problem: she telepaths back that she can’t drive. WTF. He then proceeds to tell Via telepathically that he will drive for her.
Anyway, Via proceeds to make some stupid assumptions and also some stupid decisions. She decides to believe this idiot in thinking that he has the power to kill Giancarlo never proving to her that he has Giancarlo hostage. Then Via starts thinking that maybe her own life sacrificed for another is the greatest gift ever. She thinks that she is saving Giancarlo’s life by agreeing to meet the leader of the Satanic cult in the middle of the fucking night. I must admit, Marinuzzi did say he’d have her come to him.
The funny part is when she gets there, she asks where Giancarlo is at and Marinuzzi tells her he hasn’t the slight clue. Oh shit! screams our heroine. I did stupid. You dumb bitch. That’s exactly what I thought. I was so mad that this story went from good to bad. It really does bother me as the romance and the suspense had great potential from the start but I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. I just couldn’t believe this book turned out to be this bad. It was a nightmare.
As I was reading the beginning of the book, I thought, I’m giving this book an A. The hero is nice, you have an excellent setting, great beginning, great writing, great chemistry. However the plot turned ridiculous and the characters (Via) lost me altogether. I ended up skimming the last 30 odd pages. I found much of the stuff laughable in places that the author was not aiming for, I’m sure. This is a D+ for the ridiculous plotting in the last 3rd of the book and for Via being a secret virgin horny as hell and being TSTL. I’m thinking a D+ since I was mostly entertained before the problems cropped up. In the end, I did skim just to save my sanity.
Added note: I will try Ms. Treanor again as I do enjoy her voice very much. I’ve enjoyed a previous ebook by her, Undead Men Wear Plaid that was really good. I just think this ebook was a mistep here and hope that she gets back on the right track.