LynneC’s review of Under the Brazilian Sun by Catherine George
Contemporary romance published by Mills and Boon Modern Romance 1 Aug 11
Catherine George has been writing for Mills and Boon for a long time. A very long time. But she doesn’t write as fast as some of the other authors, so we have to wait awhile for a new book from her. I’m a Catherine George fan, despite her more relaxed attitude to writing a romance. I find her a refreshing change from all the angst going on around her.
Roberto is an ex-racing driver, his career halted by family pressure and an accident that happened off the track. Katharine holds a doctorate and is working for an art dealer who is an old family friend. They meet when Roberto wants a picture he has recently bought investigated, so Katharine travels to his holiday home in Portugal, where he is recovering from a car accident which nearly ended his life.
She falls in love with him the moment she sees him, in one of those “anvil moments” that I enjoy, when they’re done properly. And this is. Katharine doesn’t hurtle into an affair with Roberto, he doesn’t blackmail her into his bed, and their attraction evolves. Both know the wisdom of getting to know each other first and reconciling their very different lifestyles. Although Roberto has given up the motor racing, he is a gaucho on the family ranch and lives half a world away in Brazil. When they part, Katharine goes back to her life in London, one she enjoys.
Katharine and Roberto don’t stop falling in love, but both are aware of the commitment inherent in marriage, and neither discuss it until they’re ready. One of the reasons I enjoyed the book was their mature attitude to that and to each other. Since Katharine is in her late twenties and Roberto his early thirties, this seems appropriate, far more so than some of the flouncing and snits characters in other books fall into. And I enjoyed this book so much because of the two central characters. Other characters were either too sweet or too sour or ciphers put in for the story.
George is not very good at the “evil” characters, the ones who might prove obstacles to the love of the central couple. There are three in this book, and all of them are ciphers. Two are women, one who causes the accident that damaged Roberto we don’t even meet and one is Katharine’s fiancé, a lawyer in London. None of them come across as anything but ciphers. They don’t really matter, they just help to cast a few obstacles in the way of the two main characters.
The plot doesn’t go anywhere. Occasionally a barrier will get thrown up to stop the inevitable conclusion of the story, but, in reality, what causes the main problems are that they both have fulfilling lives, and those lives take place half a world apart. I don’t really buy the conclusion, and it’s far too pat for my liking. I’d have liked something different that maybe involved much more travel or compromises on both parts, but it’s the only part of the character of Katharine that I find a bit unbelievable. Because as a restorer, authenticator and historian, it is vital to see the actual painting, not a reproduction, and it is usually impossible and a huge risk to transport valuable works of art so that the restorer usually goes to the work. For instance, when the Mona Lisa went to the USA for a special exhibition, the painting had to have round-the-clock security, special packing, and a plane of its own. Because, for insurance purposes, the Mona Lisa is priceless. All great paintings are. That’s because insurance works on the replacement value, and you can’t replace the Mona Lisa.
I do, however, find the backgrounds and the jobs of the two main characters well researched and convincing. Reading her biography, it appears that Ms. George has experience with both of the worlds she describes, and it really shows. Although she describes the gaucho way of life in idealised terms, it is, nevertheless, believable. Add flies, heat, and cow dung, and it’s probably spot on. I do have some experience in the art world myself, and nothing in this book jives with that. Maybe Katharine authenticates and cleans the painting too fast (of course she does), but she does emphasise that it’s not a restoration, and, hey, this is a romance, not a treatise on restorative techniques. In both worlds, there are enough details to intrigue and interest, but not enough to overwhelm, and I really appreciate that. I can say that I had an enjoyable and undemanding read in this book, and it went with my coffee perfectly. (No biscuits, I’m trying to lose a bit of weight!)
Beauty and the beast… Roberto de Sousa lived for the sound of crowds chanting his name. But now all he hears are thoughts of bitterness and regret. One look at his scarred face in the mirror and he’s back in his car as it crashes, his racing career destroyed. No one has tempted the reclusive champion out from his mansion, and Dr Katherine Lister is the only person to be invited in… She’s there to value a rare piece of art. But under Roberto’s sultry gaze she feels like a priceless jewel…
Read an excerpt.