Gemini Moon (A Lella York Mystery #1) by Maria Grazia Swan

From goodreads: Italian-born Lella York leads a very predictable life as an average housewife in Southern California… until a strange encounter on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy predicts a very different future.

Upon returning from her vacation, Lella is shocked to find that her best friend, Ruby, has not only accidentally shot her own husband, but also mysteriously disappeared. To Lella’s horror, her son Kyle is accused of kidnapping the missing woman. And the fact that he is driving around in the dead husband’s Ferrari Testarossa is not helping his case. With her son in jail, her best friend vanished, and her life turning into a soap opera, the last thing Lella expects to encounter is a police lieutenant who gets her heart racing in more ways than one. Homicide Lieutenant Devin stirs feelings in Lella that she hasn’t felt since becoming a widow four years ago. But can she trust his agenda? Lust, guilt, and confusion mix together in a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Lella tries to untangle the web of lies and deceit that’s quickly closing in around her.


This is one of those books that I’m really not sure about. I liked some things about it, but I also disliked some things about it. This book was equally confusing and engaging. Frustrating yet interesting. Yep, one of those kinds of books. I think it’s an adult mystery/romance book, but that was one of my issues – liked the mystery but not the romance. I like some mystery books, and I like some romance books, and I even like some mystery/romance books. I prefer mystery/romance styles similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Gemma Halliday’s High Heels series, Victoria Laurie’s Psychic Eye/Abby Cooper series, etc – lighthearted, fun, romantic mysteries (if that makes any sense). Anyway, I thought this book would be similar to those, so maybe I went into it with the wrong expectations. It’s not a bad book, it’s just not as good as I hoped.

don't get it

From the beginning, I had trouble connecting to the main character Donatella (Lella for short), and I’m not sure why. She is an older character (even older than me, LOL), but I think it was more her attitude that I had trouble with. It seemed like she was constantly apologizing for things that were out of her control, and she just seemed clueless in general (not just from the mysterious circumstances, that part I could understand). Anyway, at the beginning of the story, Lella’s been a widow for 4 years (still grieving) and returns from a vacation to Italy to find that her cat is almost starved and other things were not as they should have been. Her best friend was supposed to be stopping by often to care for the cat, check the mail, and check on things around the house. It’s obvious that her friend had been there at some point, but hadn’t been by for days. She can’t reach her by phone, and before she can go to her best friend’s house a detective shows up. Her best friend’s husband is dead – accidentally shot – and her best friend is missing.


Even though she’s worried about her friend, she immediately becomes interested in the detective, Larry. And vice versa. The romance started so fast, it just didn’t feel right to me. She was still having issues and grieving her husband, then BAM – she’s in love again. I didn’t warm up to the romance or the boyfriend. There were a lot of confusing things that made me suspicious of him, and I don’t know if I was supposed to be suspicious or not! He was a detective, but come to find out he had actually just retired and was just helping out on this last case. He wasn’t always up front with her about things, not completely explaining himself or what was going on. His actions would make her mad and upset, yet she ends up the one apologizing. It frustrated me, I just didn’t get that part. I think it would have been better if they had been friends longer and not immediately lovers. Sometimes the “insta-love” works and sometimes it doesn’t – in this case, for me, it didn’t work.

“Was this fiery turmoil an age thing? How would I know? Underneath the battered ego, I wanted him so bad I would run to him if he called out to me.”

So, while the romance part frustrated me and fell kind of flat, the mystery part kept me intrigued. There were several other twists in the story, suspicious activity, lots of clues that may or may not be related, and the best friend Ruby was the key. But how was she involved? A victim? A suspect? Is she innocent, crazy, or evil? Did she kill her husband? Did Ruby and Nick (Lella’s husband) have an affair before he died? Did she have something to do with Nick’s death too? So many questions and twists!!! So, the mystery part kept my interest because I HAD to know how it was solved!! I HAD to know what else was going to happen!! I HAD to know the truth about Ruby!! And so, now I know, but I’m not going to spoil the mystery for everyone else.

 “What kind of person is Ruby? What does she like to do? What kind of places does she like to go to? You should know.”

So, again I’m not sure how I feel about this book. The romance frustrated me, but the mystery intrigued me. What it lacked in romance, it made up for in mystery, I guess. Have you had mixed feelings about a book lately?






  1. says

    I’m sorry this book didn’t rock your world. *kicks dirt* There’s nothing worse than a book that’s meh, you know? I hope the next story you read blows your mind! Lovely review Tricia! :)

    • Tricia says

      I liked the mystery part of it & I NEEDED to know what was going to happen & how it would end. I’m one of those people that like trying to figure out & solve things, so the mystery kept me going! Thanks for stopping by!!

    • Tricia says

      I’m not even sure how the title fits with the book, honestly. And apparently it was previously published under a different title — Murder Under the Italian Moon — which doesn’t make sense either because it didn’t take place in Italy. So yeah, thankfully the mystery saved it & my obsessiveness to know how things are solved, LOL!! Thanks for commenting! :-)

  2. says

    Hi Tricia, thank you so much for taking the time to write the review, sorry the book somehow disappointed you. Gemini Moon was actually the original title, based on the astrological chart that sort of set the mystery in motion. The publisher later changed it to Murder Under the Italian Moon…no comment here. Most of the constant apologizing is due to Lella’s background, Italian born and raised, I should add Italian catholic. But regardless, again, thank you so much. Maria Grazia Swan.
    By the way #2 was released in July, Death Under the Venice Moon and this one is indeed taking place in Venice and surroundings (that’s where I’m from). I would be delighted to send you a paperback copy. No, not teasing you, I very much appreciated your time and the 3 stars, seriously.

    • Tricia says

      Thanks so much for stopping by and clarifying a few things! Seriously, I really appreciate it and now have a better understanding. I totally didn’t get the title, but it does make sense now. I wasn’t completely disappointed with the book, the mystery aspect was really intriguing and really kept my interest. Also, I think I went into the book with certain expectations (thinking it would be very similar to other mystery/romance styles I’ve read), which probably hurt the reading the experience. Lella was just a different main character than what I’m used to or what I expected, not necessarily bad, just different. However, I liked how even being completely out of her element and thrown for a loop, she paid attention and noticed clues that others didn’t think about. I just read the blurb for the 2nd book, and I admit the mystery has me intrigued again. If you want to send a copy, that is very awesome of you, but you don’t have to. Thanks again for taking time to stop by the blog! :-)

  3. says

    Oh no!! Not connecting with a main character is the worst!! At least it had twists and turns. I knew about that Stephanie Plum series (my mom read it and loved it and I saw the movie) but I didn’t read a review about it or hearing someone telling me it one good so thanks for that. Also, great review, Tricia!! :)
    Lola recently posted…Review: Hexed (Hexed #1) by Michelle KrysMy Profile

    • Tricia says

      I think it was just not what I expected. The mystery & twists were really intriguing. Definitely had to find out how it was going to wrap up!

      I really like the Stephanie Plum series & the earlier books are fantastic! I don’t think the later ones in the series are as good, but they’re still entertaining & hilarious! The first book is way better than the movie!! Thanks for commenting! Happy reading! :-)

  4. says

    Why does Donatella remind me of the ninja turtle LOL the name is so similar! “constantly apologizing for things that were out of her control” ugggh, I know people like this IRL and it drives me nuts! STOP APOLOGISING! AT least the mystery was good enough to keep you going, but I just want to slap Lella! It does sound a bit more frustrating. Lovely review Tricia!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Contemporary YA Reviews #1: Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor & The Minnow by Diana SweeneyMy Profile

    • says

      Donatella is not an unusual name in Italy as for the ninja turtles although I didn’t see the movie I understand they are named after famous Italian artists from the past. Donatello was a well know painter. Hope this helps.
      maria grazia Swan recently posted…Memories of LaziseMy Profile

    • Tricia says

      Thanks Jeann! The mystery was good & all the twists kept me guessing! Definitely had me wanting to know more! Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading!! :-)

    • Tricia says

      The mystery was interesting!! Gone Girl has been on my list for awhile, but I’ve been putting it off for that reason. From what I’ve heard about it, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of mixed feelings upon completion! One of these days, I’ll get to it & we can compare notes!! Hope you have a great week too! Thanks for stopping by!! :-)

  5. says

    Very well-balanced review, Tricia. It doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does (the really liking one aspect of a book, while another falls completely flat), I’m also very torn. I think you covered your bases well here, and I’m glad that you were able to enjoy parts of this book. I’ll be keeping an eye out for your thoughts on the next book in the series ;)
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: If I Stay by Gayle FormanMy Profile

    • Tricia says

      Thanks so much Jessica! Mixed feelings on a book doesn’t happen often to me either, but I’m glad y’all are understanding & I’m not the only one! I enjoyed the mystery part, definitely kept me on my toes! Thanks again for your kind words & for stopping by! :-)

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