My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century + A Tale of Two Centuries (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2) - Rachel Harris

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I am captivated by the gypsy magic.

Disclaimer: This would be a long one. As this includes:

A short thought for My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, thoughts for A Tale of Two Centuries, and my somehow-jumbled-yet-coherent rantings about Lorenzo-Cat-Lucas.

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century - Rachel Harris
On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

Short thoughts for “My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century”:
“Caterina, a great adventure is in store for you. Be sure to keep your mind open to the lessons ahead.”

            For a debut novel and the first book in the series, and I have a word for it: Wonderful. In the very essence of: wonder and full (as in, sated). This story dwelt with history, family, love, romance and fun. It was an exciting read, with pinpoint details and writing style that was both witty and humorous!
            It was a wonder that it felt like I was transported to Renaissance Florence and enthralled with Cat’s journey. It felt like a get-away from everything, from her Dad, Mom and her soon-to-be stepmom. Transported to the 16th century and living with a true and whole family, finding more about her love with that century’s art, falling in love and being heartbroken, and finally, returning to her own time; Cat discovered more to life than she could imagine.
Let me share my favorite part: the reenactment of Snow White. That was pure joy in there.
            Also, just having that feeling of falling in love and that grief to let go for the best. Lorenzo was ready to drop every dream of being an artist, to follow his father to take Cat for marriage, everything just to be with her. But Cat knew what to do, as much as she loved Lorenzo, she would not be the hindrance for Lorenzo’s future. There was the point that both broke them: the choice to let go. Both needed to live even with the demise of their old love. The pain of hearts being shattered but with a new hope to love again.
            And darling, this book has a lot in store for a reader who seeks to be suck into the old world of surcoats, pleasantries, politeness, curtsies and illicit teen romance. Years before Romeo and Juliet, Patience (Cat) and Lorenzo were the ones that wanted to defy love and had failed to have their own happy ending.

Rating: 3.5 - 4 out of 5.
P.S. I was just really distraught about Lorenzo and Cat.
I just love them so and my heart breaks for their star-crossed love affair.

(I am not advertising but if you loved this story, you might want to check out: “Moments of Love”. It is a Filipino movie though, but somehow had the same concept with “My Super Sweet Sixteen” but with heavy drama).

A Tale of Two Centuries (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2) - Rachel Harris
Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?

My thoughts:
“Alessandra, the adventure that you seek is full of possibilities. But always remember where your real strength lies.”

            The second book started months (or years) after the end of the first book. It picked up where it left off, having Alessandra in the 21st century.
In the year of Alessandra, it had been two years when Cat left Renaissance Florence; it was little Less’ time to be of age, 16 and to marry soon. Less, had been in love – having secret escapades with Matteo (which is 11 years older than her) and had prepared herself to be a wife to him, unfortunately, Matteo wed himself to another woman; leaving Alessandra heartbroken and wishing to have her own gypsy adventure.

And a gypsy adventure indeed she had.

I have two-words for this book: Life-altering.
I was thinking if life-changing was the better one but I suppose, ‘altering’ was more suitable. Alessandra’s life was not entirely changed but altered. It was within her: the power to make or change everything. Her strength lies in her; it was just a matter of choice where the ‘real’ strength was.
And I fully support her decision. This made me a happy reader.
Yep, smile still etched on my face.

If you think you had your heart ripped for Lorenzo and Caterina, do not lose hope, Lucas comes to the rescue; and pick up “A Tale of Two Centuries”, because it proved that it was possible to have a happy ending. (And I know how wrong this is but this was so much better than the first book)

             For a sequel, this one made a continuous flow of the previous story and showed a spontaneous flow for the next focus, Alessandra. The author, Rachel Harris, did not disappoint, it was still well-written – details and especially the style where it was really written with words in the 16th century (formal and polite).

             Alessandra was such a lovely character, both in the 16th and 21st century concepts. She was expected to be feminine, demure; what a female in that era should project. But she needed to adapt with where she was now, and for that adventure she seeks to happen. Like what Reyna, the gypsy, had said, Alessandra craved adventure but was she strong enough? Alessandra does crave adventure but she was not much of a risk-taker; she was well-protected back in her days, since she was a woman and to submit with the demands of the society. But then again, she does not live in the 16th century anymore. And 21st century seemed a little dangerous than the past century, put Austin in the picture. And her life started to become truly altered.

              Austin was the school’s bad boy. He was once the golden boy – excelled in sports, student council and the son of a senator; but when his mother was dying and unfortunately died, his eyes were open to what his father was and had become a delinquent in the eyes of many people. Yet he was a loving brother to Jamie, it was like them against the world. But then, Alessandra came into his life; his challenge to make her fit in made this a way for them to have their own romance. It would be blasphemy not to speak of this handsome boy, his love for surf (yeah, include the hot tan-and-toned surfer body), his intelligence, his charms (the devious smile, the wooing), I mean, hello, the golden-boy-turns-bad-boy-persona? But then the most important, this guy knew how to kiss. I apologize, Lorenzo, yours was sweet-illicit-thrilling-passionate kisses but Austin knew how to claim. And claim he did —so as devour and ravish to top that passionate kiss. *over-the-top wink*

             Oh my, can I just tell how I love Austin? There a lot to be said but the top three in my head were:
1.       Jet Ski – OMG. Can I be Less in that moment? Just fudging hugged him (even on a wet suit)?!
2.       Surfing – there were two amazing parts here (I am squealing here, Gods, help me, I am remembering the moments)
3.       When he knew the truth – the most amazing sentence he said was there. Yep, if Less couldn’t believe what she heard. I repeatedly read it to not miss every word he uttered.
Wait, I know I said 3 but just 1 more wouldn’t hurt, right?
4.       Those times when he called Alessandra: Princess (not the sarcastic one) and Baby!

*takes a huge deep breath because I am currently hyperventilating*

             So, as for Austin and Alessandra’s romance, it was there. Well, it was hate at first but we all know that sometimes hate do turn into such fervent love. It was not as if Alessandra detested Austin too much, it was in the likes of Austin knew how to push-the-buttons of dear innocent Alessandra that would make her explode. I enjoyed the two of them and how they helped each other. Alessandra found herself through the incessant Austin-filled challenges and learned how to be strong and be a risk-taker for once. Alessandra also found her passion, theater. This reader here *points to self* is a theater-bias, so I fell more in love with the story. There was a connection with Alessandra and the stage; and she owned it. I amazed how the story felt real in its part, there was a real connection on how it was written, it was easy to grasp. Like how Austin and Alessandra did not fall in love with a snap, even with the short time, the author made a link between them and took little steps before jumping into a relationship. There really was ‘love’ between the two, not the faux-nor-forced couple just for the sake of having romance in it. There were just many moments between the couple that I love every bit of it. I was greedy to have their time together. The genuine romance in the story, the time-travel warp, the adventures *girlish giggle insert here*, the theater, the surfing, the friendship and most importantly, defying whatever force of nature there is out there. I am still blissful until now *genuine smile plastered, check*.

             And Cat was there too, at least it showed that Cat had her happily-ever-after. As heart breaking as it was for me, I mean, I felt like I betrayed Lorenzo for cheering for Lucas to be with Cat, but they (Cat and Lucas) deserved to be with each other. Life just had their own twisted way to make them end up together. When Lucas professed his love to Cat, oh dear Signore (yeah, let’s have a little Italian expression),  I was dying of happiness at that moment, and let me tell you, my pillow was not happy on how I murdered such fluffy-comforting goodness.

Meanwhile, I was overjoyed that the Reyna, the gypsy, was talkative here. At least, she was not as creepy as before, right? I mean, the ‘creeptastic’ feel was still there but a tad controlled. She told her story on the first book but she showed her character more in this book. I had admired her character before and how powerful she was. Yet she proved what she was capable here. Another shocker was that, she set a deadline – she had these hints, which, quite frankly, Alessandra would know when her time to go will come. Also I must note Reyna was an underrated character that possessed a main spot. She was like a life-coach and an eye-opener which guided you to your destiny. So, cheers to dear gypsy!

I always love a title which correlates with a story, like this one. A Tale of Two Centuries, Alessandra from 16th century and Austin from the 21st century; but then there was the word, ‘tale’. It made sense in the end. And the ending was somehow predicted (not entirely) but they made it possible. I mean, I thought it was not possible but they did it. And I was so ecstatic for them both. Mark my words, chapter 28-30 were definitely the most attention-grabbing parts, not only because it was drawing near the end but also it made use of what Alessandra’s riddle was and what everything meant. It just sunk into your mind at how amazing it was. Just like what Cat had realized after her encounter with the gypsy, my bewilderment was still triggered. The shock from the ending made me wear a grin for the whole day. *happy sigh* What a happily-ever-after can give a reader.

Honestly, both books were not just a read. It was more than that, like when you watch or read something for class and you need to reflect or find the moral of the story? It was hidden yet blatantly there. The lessons for both the heroine, but they have not realized it because they were living with it. The riddles by the gypsy were complex yet easy. It was just overlooked. I loved that these two books had the sense of time-traveling to another century – which expressed the exhilarating feeling of having a fun adventure, immersing to the book itself, and feeling sated with what it had. Really a get-away book, if you want to just block the real life for awhile.

Truth be told, where can I meet such gypsy?

Rating: 4.5 - 5 out of 5.
P.S. The HEA won me over.
It was definitely: “Love conquers all.”

I cannot fathom not to speak (write) for this, you may freely skip this part, as this is my profession of Lorenzo-Cat to Lucas-Cat love affair:
I just want to acknowledge Lorenzo. While I was reading, “My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century”, after and during the first parts of “A Tale of Two Centuries”, I was still having the heart that some complex twist will bring Cat and Lorenzo back together. Well, if you had the same hopes like I did, a heartfelt advice: DROP IT. They, Cat and Lorenzo, did not end up together.
Their story ended, it only became a part of history. They fell in love but in the end, they were not able to defy their destiny. Some history was better left as it is, untouched and just reminisced. The thing was that it ended in heartache but both in a lovely and shattering way. It was fate for them to meet but it was destined that they live in different centuries. It was destined that while Lorenzo was curing his heartache, it was the image of Cat in his mind that also kept him going, and he painted his pained love; but it was Lucas Cappelli, the descendant of Lorenzo, that Cat was to be with.
Lucas was every bit Lorenzo but still different. But they had that connection, like the underrated: “I think I know you?” or “Have we met before?” Maybe Lorenzo was somehow like what Reyna, the gypsy, described Alessandra: “People who were born in their time” but with a twist that he must reincarnate to be someone? Okay, now I am just too desperate to have Lorenzo have his happy ending.
All right, dropping this idea.
Lucas was another person, a descendant, not a reincarnation. Lucas was different yet similar to Lorenzo, but the thing was, I was happy for Cat. She needed someone and I loved how Alessandra had uttered that Lucas was better for Cat than Lorenzo was. There was a lot of avoidance going on the part of Cat because she felt like she was betraying Lorenzo but Lucas was not Lorenzo; Cat figured it out to the very end.
And the thing was: Cat was really meant for Lucas. There was always that look Lucas have that he was completely smitten with Cat, whatever Cat does.
Wait, I swear, I am nearly finished with this ranting of mine:
THAT painting. Goddess Victoria with Painted Pear. Fudge brownie, I cried (literally, I must point-out) for their forbidden love.
Is it too wrong for me to want to know what happened to Lorenzo?
My heart still breaks as I remember the pain Lorenzo endured (or endures).

Purchase Links:
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century (#1):
     Amazon     |     Barnes and Noble

A Tale of Two Centuries (#2):
     Amazon     |     Barnes and Noble

Author Bio:
I grew up in New Orleans, where I watched soap operas with my grandmother and stayed up late sneak reading my mama’s favorite romance novels. Now a Cajun cowgirl living in Houston, I still stay up way too late reading my favorite romances, only now, I can do so openly. I firmly believe life’s problems can be solved with a hot, powdered-sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.

When not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, I homeschool my two beautiful girls and watch reality television with my amazing husband. 

I write YA, NA, and Adult Fun & Flirty Escapes. Taste The Heat is my adult romance debut, and I'm also the author of MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY and A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES, as well as a ton of other books to come. I love hearing from readers and dishing books!

Author Links:

Website     |     Goodreads     |     Twitter     |     Facebook

Special thanks to Heather of Entangled Teen for the eARC of A Tale of Two Centuries.
As usual, an eARC was sent in exchange for a truthful review.

*trying to stop self* I. NEED. BOOK. 3. OMG. *okay, okay, I'm quite done*
I need some Austin-Less or Cat-Lucas while waiting. Or cake, it'll be okay, I guess.

-     Jassie

1 sprinkled sunshines:

Rachel Harris said...

Oh I love this post so much!!!! Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring about these characters so much, being so involved and passionate and enthusiastic. I don't think there's a higher compliment a reader can give an author, and I truly can't thank you enough <3


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