Saturday, August 17, 2013

Romance in the Renaissance: A Review of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

I'm not the biggest fan of reading historical fiction. I mean, I like it because I absolutely love history. But, unless it's actual fiction besides the obvious historical elements, I don't like it and find it boring. So when I heard about this time-traveling novel set in Renaissance Firenze (more commonly known as Florence), I knew I had to read it. Not only because I love history and I love unexpected romances in different time periods, but because I love fantasy. And fantasy + history = one amazing combo. <3

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was beautifully written, a well-researched and stunningly detailed novel set in the Renaissance. It had the romance; it had the history. And it had the uniquely cool concept of time-traveling, strongly developed characters, and a whole lot of love.

Rating: 4 stars!
When we meet our young main character, Cat, she's on a plane to Florence, Italy. Her father is engaged to a woman Cat doesn't like, and her mother is a no-show in her life and considered the slut of Hollywood. Her future step-mother is throwing her this huge Sweet Sixteen in a few months, and Cat is not happy. Her attitude toward the party could easily have come off as stuck-up and spoiled, a brat who is just lashing out because she doesn't want daddy dearest to marry this woman named Jenna. But she's not like that. Her dad may be this big director in Hollywood, but he's always tried to make her life seem normal. Cat is an artist who is very down-to-earth and doesn't take her famous and wealthy status to heart. She just wants to be out of the spotlight so she can be who she wants to be without being judged, ridiculed, and compared to her mother's less than stellar reputation. 

Cat is hilarious! I loved her character and personality. She's sarcastic and bold, passionate and vibrant. Her down-to-earth persona is endearing, while her quick wit is charming. "A man had to invent this. No woman would do this to herself." Here, Cat is talking about corsets and unleashing her thoughts about that piece of fashion that most women would probably wholeheartedly agree on. (I've always actually wanted to put on a corset, just to see what it is like. Weird, I know). Anyway, I thought her character was strongly developed and had a personal quality that made me connect with her and like her instantly.

As a birthday present, her dad takes her to Florence, a place she's been wanting to visit ever since she fell in love with the Renaissance period in Italy's history. And it's also the place where her ancestors came from, the only good thing she feels came from her mother. When Cat wanders off alone, she finds this tent in the middle of a marketplace. Why she felt the need to step into the tent is lost to her when she meets Reyna. The person responsible for sending her back in time to when the era of the Renaissance was taking over Florence. 1505.

Well aware that she's lost in a different era, Cat takes the identity of Patience D'Angeli. But what she doesn't know is that Patience is actually her ancestor and that the people she's going to live with are her cousins far-far-far-far-far-far-far... removed. Alessandra and Cipriano, as well as her aunt and uncle, quickly take her in, having no idea that she's just traveled over 500 years back in time. This strong family dynamic is one of my favorite aspects of the book. All of them love fiercely and forgive quickly. As much as Cat tries to distance herself from them, they steal their way into her heart. Her aunt is a motherly presence, Alessandra the sister she never had, and Cipriano the overprotective brother. Aside from her father, no one's ever cared about her like they do, and she's never known what else she was missing in her life until she met them. 
Lorenzo. Alessandra, Cipriano, my aunt and uncle... Loving each of them is like an earthquake—I can feel it now; I know the destruction it'll leave behind and have witnessed previous aftermaths, but I'm powerless to stop it. And the worst part is, I don't really want to.
Cat knows that her time with them is short. It makes every moment, every second with them matter. She savors her time there, savors the relationships she's made with her relatives, and savors the romantic history of the Renaissance. It's in this place that she finds herself, where she learns how to open up her heart and discover all that she'd been hoping to find. 

Cat never thought she'd find the kind of passionate love fairytales are made of in the Renaissance. She didn't know what she was missing out on until she met Lorenzo Cappelli. Ohhhh, Lorenzo.  
"When we first met, I thought you could never be more beautifulbut I was wrong. Tonight, you shine brighter than any diamond."  
*swoons* He's the type of starry-eyed romantic dreamer I love reading about. He's an aspiring artist, childhood friends with Cip and Less, and so full of life and love and passion. Oh, and did I mention he's unbelievably sexy? I mean, it goes without saying, but I just thought I'd throw that out there. Lorenzo may be a Renaissance player, but he's kind and honest and good. And he falls in love with the intriguing Cat. 

It's a sweet romance, one filled with desperate kisses and stolen moments. But these two have more obstacles than the obvious fact that she's from the 21st century and he's from the 16th century. Cat finds herself with more trouble than she bargained for when she learns the truth behind Niccolo's fascination with her. It sets this independent woman's fiery temper loose and she struggles to change the outcome of her stay. While Lorenzo's offer is quite tempting, Cat knows she can't go through with it. And she knows that she can no longer keep up the ruse of Patience. With Reyna's help, Cat discovers the reason why she was sent back in time. But she's ready to go home.

I can't help but feel slightly disappointed with the ending. Or, more specifically, the last few chapters. It's bittersweet; a mixture of sadness and happiness. It makes me wonder about what will happen in the future for these characters, but makes me sad the present is not at all what I expected. I was hoping for a different outcome, that's for sure. But it doesn't take away from the story, because I truly loved this book. From the moment Cat steps foot in 21st century Florence to when she lands in the Renaissance, I was undeniably pulled along in her journey of self-discovery, learning the meaning of family, and finding the absolute beauty in love.

4 comments:

  1. Nice review! You'd probably like Venom by Fiona Paul, it's historical fiction with some paranormal elements and it's set in Venice. It totally surprised me how much I liked it!

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    1. Ooh, thanks for the recommendation! I have Venom sitting on my TBR list, and I've been wanting to read it! :)

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  2. I have been waiting to read this. At least now I feel like I have something to look forward to! Great review!

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    1. Thanks! This book is pretty amazing. :)

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