Estelle: Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole
Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole ( website | tweet )
Publication Date: June 24, 2012
Publisher: Lakehouse Press
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: royalty, Greece, complicated relationships
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Reece’s usual summer vacation in London visiting her father takes an unexpected turn when a serious attack closes all airports, and she is whisked away to beautiful Greece with a gorgeous boy who just happens to be the son of the Prime Minister of Caberra.
Reece is a small town girl who is afraid of flying, and Dante is just about her exact opposite. In the style of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the two bump into each other in the airport and later find themselves seated next to each other on the plane. Although unlike STAT, their plane never lifts off after a horrific explosion kills all the passengers on a nearby flight. Immediately, security whisks Dante away from the attack and he takes Reese with him.
For such a traumatic beginning, it is completely forgotten when Reese and Dante land in Caberra, a small (made up) island in Greece, where Dante’s father is Prime Minister. She is instantly attracted to him, and can’t believe her luck – spending a few days in Dante’s house, meeting his friends, and only having one outfit to her name! (Oh no.) I’ll admit I got pretty swept up in their romance and this mystery surrounding Dante, but it seems pretty unlikely that a big event like the first one would be forgotten so easily right? I, for one, would have been pretty obsessed and affected by it.
But Greece is beautiful and Reece is really having the time of her life, especially when she is given the opportunity to stay for the rest of the summer… which means more staring at Dante, thinking about Dante, and well, being with Dante. I understand what she sees in him… he’s beautiful (as she mentions a bunch of times) and is extremely Prince Charming-like. But a few events that occur during this novel feel forced, and the special moments where they get to know each other are too easily glossed over. (Doesn’t everyone know that’s the best part?) Even their dialogue feels inconsistent… Reese alternates between sounding her age and also like a much older person (which doesn’t make sense judging from her insecurities and high dramatics).
With a little finesse, the author could have bridged the gap between this light, summery romance and the dangerous sub-plot that kept popping up. Instead the darker moments are flippantly disregarded by the characters, while the story climaxes into a major fairy tale (completely with the typical good vs. evil conflict). It feels unsettling. Despite the unbalanced plot, there are elements I enjoyed: Reece’s budding friendship with Mia (who desperately needed a solid friendship), the vineyard setting that felt like it was straight out of a movie (Letters to Juliet, maybe?), and a few Cinderella moments that straight out of a Disney Channel flick.
If you are prepared to embrace the drama, Dante’s Girl is worth giving a shot. It’s fast paced (I read it in a day), the chemistry is spot-on, and it is very easy to get lost in the majesty of Greece.