This Most Amazing by Jenny Benjamin

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Dahlia couldn’t have fallen in love with Jonas at a more inconvenient time. Not only is she about to move from the US to Italy, her enigmatic dreams about an 18th-century Italian soldier are playing tricks on her mind. While her daily life is taken over by her turbulent relationship with Jonas, her dreams are dominated by an Italian soldier who lived more than 200 years ago… She enters a balancing act between dream and reality, in which she is thrown back and forth between the past and the future. What happens to Dahlia after she falls asleep? Will the two worlds she lives in eventually collide?

This work of literary fiction intertwines a contemporary romance with the concept of time travel. Go on a voyage to 18th-century Italy and accompany the charismatic Dahlia on her quest to love and enlightenment.

Publisher and Release Date: Armida Publications, May 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Modern Day / 18th Century Italy
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Francine Howarth

This is not so much a historical romance in the vein of heaving bosoms, palpitating hearts and racing pulses, as one might expect of the ubiquitous historical romance novel. This Most Amazing by Ms Benjamin is a romantic reflection of two people who are 200 years apart in life cycles, and yet, the story is not a time-slip novel as expected by ardent fans of the time-slip genre.

Perhaps Ms Benjamin’s own words convey the essence of its content better than any reviewer might pretend to understand when she says: “Are the people from our pasts truly inside of us, in one way or another?”

Well, strange as the above quote may seem, that is precisely what some notable neuroscientists are attempting to discover – whether aspects of memories are transferable by way of neurological DNA, which, perhaps, gives a whole new meaning to strange instances of déjà vu. Thus, the aforementioned might well give rise to Dahlia (of Italian origin) having a neurological link to an ancestor/s, and it would explain her strange sequences of out-of-body experiences. How else can she see, feel and smell every nuance of that which Vincenzo has experienced 200 years beforehand?

While Dahlia battles with dreams and visions of 1797 and that of Vincenzo’s desertion from Napoleon’s army, her 21st century existence has a dilemma all its own in the form of Jonas, an artist, who turns her world upside down and sets her heart alight with untold passion. But how is a girl to balance the pull of Vincenzo’s existence in her private thoughts and dreams, against the pull of a real-time lover? And what is the correlation between Dahlia, Vincenzo and Jonas, and can she – whilst in Italy on a one year job assignment – discover any past existence of Vincenzo, and if so, who and what is he, and is he an ancestor of hers?

This Most Amazing is a thoroughly enjoyable read, but it is more of a mainstream novel rather than an historical romance. Romantic elements do exist along with the unsavoury nuance of the Napoleonic wars as 1797 encroaches on the present day.

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