Monday, September 15, 2008

A Little Slice of Heaven by Gina Ardito

TITLE: A Little Slice of Heaven
AUTHOR: Gina Ardito
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 61k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $6.00

Gianna Randazzo has a soft heart, rescuing strays and helping anybody she can. The homeless man hanging around the dumpster of her family’s pizzeria, however, isn’t quite as destitute as she’s used to. Kyle Hayden has the looks and manners of the upper class, but when it comes down to it, he’s still a man in need. She offers him a job as a busboy, only to be thrown for a loop when he cleans up into one of the most gorgeous men she’s ever seen. In fact, he just might be the perfect guy to pose as her doting boyfriend at her ex’s approaching wedding. Too bad Kyle’s got secrets of his own…

There is something refreshing about finding an everyday heroine that not only I can relate to, but that I actually like. Gianna Randazzo is twenty-nine, a teacher, and single, with a soft heart and a strong work ethic that resembles many of the women I know. Her lack of attachment stems from a recent break-up, when the man she was dating – a teacher at the same elementary she worked at – walked into her kindergarten class, got down on one knee, and promptly proposed to her assistant. Gianna did the only thing she could in the face of the humiliation and gossip – she finished out the school year and then quit, deciding to pursue her dream to open her own daycare. I loved that she had the gumption and pride to stick it out, but that she was realistic enough to be so hurt that she had to quit in order not to face those two on a daily basis. In fact, throughout most of the story, she acts with this same sense of honor and smarts, and it doesn’t take long at all before I start thinking this is someone I’d easily be friends with.

Now, granted, her decision to give a homeless man a job is just a tad too altruistic for the real world, but then again, Kyle’s not your average homeless man. Even without having bathed in over a week and in clearly soiled clothing, he stands out. I actually liked him quite a lot until I got into his perspective. Though the details aren’t shared, enough is said early on for me to say he’s only temporarily destitute. There is a countdown to when he can return to Central Park West and his previous existence, which he uses more than once on himself to keep Gianna at arms’ length. The downside to learning these scanty details, however, is I was then exposed to his entire upper crust attitude. He comes across as very snide and superior in his internal monologues through the first half of the book. More than once, I wished Gianna would get over how good-looking and well-mannered he was. Kyle eventually makes up for that early snobbery – and honestly, I do realize this is done purely to show how Gianna has changed him – but I never love him the way I do her.

The supporting cast of characters is well-developed, and I have to admit, I liked the fact that Kyle’s honest reaction to Hayley, Gianna’s best friend, was annoyance and mild dislike instead of instant friendship. Considering the characterization, it was a real reaction, as were most of the reactions throughout the story. That’s where the story thrives. It created an environment that felt like someplace I’d hang out in real life, complete with people I would witness interacting. Gianna and Hayley could be any number of people I know, as could Claudio, Gianna’s godfather, or Bethany, the teenaged Goth girl who hangs out at the pizzeria. The story isn’t perfect – the prose has a tendency to be overwritten for my tastes, and the ending is rushed and not as believable as the rest of it – but then neither are these people. In the end, I want to spend time with them, regardless of their flaws, because the story is warm, humorous, and heartfelt.

On a completely separate note, I sincerely hope the publisher corrects the author’s name for future sales. According to the title page, bio, and website, the author’s last name is Ardito. However, in the header at the top of every single page in my PDF file, it says, by Gina Hardtop. I don’t know about the author, but I think Ardito sounds infinitely better.

Readability

8/10 – Occasionally over the top prose and very mild headhopping in the beginning are the only things that hold this back.

Hero

6/10 – His arrogance in the sections in his POV makes it very hard to like him, though thankfully his actions speak louder than words.

Heroine

9/10 – Spunky and wonderful

Entertainment value

8/10 – The ending is too rushed, and Kyle leaves a little to be desired, but I zipped through this, hoping for a happy ending.

World building

7/10 – The lack of information regarding Kyle’s real life was frustrating, though I knew why I didn’t get it.

TOTAL:

38/50

1 comment:

Gina Ardito said...

Wanted to stop by and say thank you for your review. I appreciate your honesty regarding what you liked and...more importantly...what you didn't like.

Most of all, a great big squishy thank you for your heads-up on Gina Hardtop, which I forwarded to my editor! That would be an extremely hard nickname to live down.

Have a great day!
Gina Ardito