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Book Review: Caravaggio’s Angel, by Chris Quinton

COVER IDEAS 3

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When Paul Calleja learns that his great-uncle has passed away, he drops everything and travels half-way round the world to deal with his estate. Arriving in Malta he begins to find out how much he didn’t know about Larry in his lifetime, and meets and is attracted to Angelo – a local handyman and artist’s model – who seems to be concealing some extraordinary secret. It’s not long before Paul and Angelo are plunged into complications which will have a profound effect on both their lives – and also on their chances of a future life together …

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Book – Caravaggio’s Angel

Author – Chris Quinton

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 191

Cover – Kind of haunting

POV – 3rd person, past tense

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Paranormal

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

Sadly, my Kindle ate all my notes when I was about 11% into the story. So there’s a really cute quote that I’d highlighted and some notes I’ve lost. Luckily, that was only a small portion of the overall story and it’s a memorable part.

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Caravaggio’s Angel is a beautiful story of self discovery. It also explores the pain and separation caused by homophobia and the constraints of religion within a family. For me, the growth of the characters relationships were the most important aspect of the story – and though I include the romance, I don’t necessarily mean that’s the biggest aspect.

This story is as much about Paul and his family, as it is about Angelo and Caravaggio’s Angel. However, the progression of Paul’s friendship with Angelo – mostly borne through a sense of knowing each other and their shared history with Uncle Larry – was beautifully done. I never felt as though it was rushed or forced; regardless of how quickly or slowly it happened, Paul’s thought process and personality made it plausible.

Paul was a great main character to follow. He was so intriguing and the way he developed from a workaholic to a snap decision, trusting kind of person was really indicative of how much Malta had an effect on it. It wasn’t about Angelo changing him into someone else, but returning to his roots in Malta and rediscovering the care free guy he used to be, who loved to sit and capture a moment in time, to explore his homeland and just trust in his instincts. As if that wasn’t enough, the author so cleverly gave him a healthy dose of scepticism. When he first meets Angelo and makes the connection, he dismisses it as fanciful, ridiculous and his imagination. Then he looks for a logical and reasonable explanation, researching schizophrenia and even thinking up other reasons to explain away the only conclusion he keeps coming back to. Genius!

Similarly, I really liked Rogier and – although not alive during the book – Uncle Larry. They were both such characters and really supportive of Paul, through all the hard times. I even liked Charles Zammit, who tried to put Paul at ease, while dealing with the necessary evils of estate business, after a death. Other than his own family, I had a real sense that Paul was being taken care of, during the difficult time of losing his Uncle. And, although his father hadn’t long died, I understood the way he felt, harbouring more feelings for his Great-Uncle than for his own father. The reasons for that were well clarified, when and where necessary.

As for Calvin and Nico – boy were they a piece of work. Calvin is a really sick SOB, considering some of the things he said about Paul and Uncle Larry. Though, I have to admit that a part of me liked evil little Nico. He was interesting. I also really liked how he was introduced slowly, through hints and suggestions, before the big reveal. It made me interested in him.

Katie, on the other hand, was amazing! I loved how she just popped into the story (in a way that made total sense) but suddenly managed to tame the beast that is Calvin and handle all those boys at a dinner party, without batting an eyelash. Katie is my kind of girl and – can I just say – I LOVE the fact that there is a positive female character included in this story. Well, positive other than Nona and Paul’s mum, both of whom stuck by him. Because, all too often in MM books, the girls are either fag-hags or bimbos and I’m so happy to see one that is neither. Katie is a normal, excitable, level headed woman who is more than capable of handling the boys.

As I said before, the progression of relationships was fantastic. From Paul and Calvin’s relationship, the flashbacks to Paul’s relationship with Uncle Larry, and his actual relationship with Angelo, everything was handled with care. There was a consistent level of chemistry between Paul and Angelo, from even before they met and there were times when I wondered where everything would lead, as we were drip fed interesting little titbits along the way.

Honestly, I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t rushed or lazy. Everything happened just when it should have, both for the characters and the plot progression.

The writing style is a little different, because a lot happens at the start of the book, without much conversation. Mostly, Paul is having to mentally deal with two deaths at once – one that doesn’t matter much and the other that is sudden but crushing. So the mostly descriptive beginning of the story makes a lot of sense and is necessary.

The attention to detail – with the painting and the scenery – was so well done that I actually felt as I was there. I’ve been a big fan of Caravaggio ever since watching a documentary about his lost painting ‘The Nativity’ and I had high expectations for historical accuracy. I wasn’t disappointed. I could feel myself walking the streets of Malta, viewing the paintings through Paul’s eyes and seeing the artistry and history in each stroke.

Yes, there is some explicit sex – oh my! That thunder storm! – but it’s all appropriate and relevant to the story. A lot of the scenes are fade to black or behind closed doors, when it won’t progress the action story, which is great, because there’s no repeat bedroom antics. The stuff we see is stuff that’s important and HAWT as heck!

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Overall, this was a beautiful story of love, life and self discovery. Paul had one incredible journey and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more.

The Caravaggio art work, history and the man himself were treated with great respect and care. The research was both well done and nicely twisted to fit the story. Fantastic!

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Favourite Quote

It seemed Angelo didn’t need to work on all of Paul’s tortured muscles to unravel the knots. They just surrendered. Paul could sympathize.”

I’m here, he wanted to say, for as long as you need me to be. And that was when Paul knew he would be staying on Malta for the rest of his life, because even if Angelo disappeared in the next few seconds the memories of him would keep Paul tethered to the island.”

““Then let me inspect your dude.” Rogier surveyed Angelo from head to toes. “Tall, check. Dark, check. Handsome, yeah, I guess so. Okay, Angel-babe, you pass muster so far. Just don’t mess with my boy or you’ll find this sweet, adorable exterior of mine has a devil-bitch inside.”

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