Renata (Forbidden Love)
by Jay Morati
Perfect strangers . . . or something more?
Carmine can’t seem to get the pretty brunette bank teller out of his head. The woman’s cheery smile and graceful movements have cemented a place of near worship inside of him, and he’s almost ashamed to admit it – especially considering the fact that his long-time wife Louise would probably have a proper fit if she knew. But there is just something about that young woman that draws him in and occupies his thoughts. He can’t seem to quite figure it out; interactions with her, however large or small, evoke within him a curious feeling of déjà vu. Carmine feels as if he knows her from somewhere, but that cannot be possible. The bank teller is closer in age to his daughter than to himself, and there are few places outside of the bank that their paths could cross.
After a seemingly harmless exchange between the two while Carmine was in the midst of preparing his usual banking, he came down with a serious case of strange tidings. Rushing to his car before he became overcome with a blinding headache that could result in an embarrassing fainting spell, Carmine closed his eyes for a few moments to gather himself. But instead of the short respite he’d intended, he instead succumbed to a deep sleep, and the result was frightening and consequentially earth-shattering.
A pair of African twin girls. A beautiful and mysterious brunette woman with cat-shaped eyes and a seductive smile. A priest. A nurse. A forbidden affair. Carmine has fallen victim to a series of peculiar dreams that leave him awakening with an endless amount of questions. Waking from these affecting visions leaves him in a minute stage of bodily paralysis that he cannot explain. He is jarred and uneasy, and he’s afraid that there may be something wrong with his mind, some sort of crack in the interior that is beginning to spur. The dreams seemed to begin as a result of a singular meeting with the pretty bank teller – the brunette who calls herself Renata – and he begins a quest to get to the bottom of things.
Cleared by a psychiatrist and sent on to a clairvoyant for extended help, Carmine opens up to the bizarre and enigmatic Madame Olga, but upon retrospect, he cannot decide if he allowed her into his mind by willing design or something slightly more nefarious. Sitting around a table with the lights dimmed, creates an atmosphere of a quiet familiarity and soothing hypnotic comfort, and Carmine finds himself pushed deep into the recesses of his suppressed mind and reunited with memories of his childhood that were long forgotten. A boy on holiday in Italy, the country of his deep-rooted heritage, rich with culture and religion. An altar boy called to the line between good and presumed evil. Another old lady, much like Madame Olga, revered by some and feared by many. Photos of a young girl from a schoolyard who looks hauntingly like the Renata that Carmine knows in this day and age.
But what is the connection? Is there one, or is it just a series of dreams? Deep down Carmine knows there must be something else . . . something bigger . . . but his attempts at contact with the bank teller to see if she is also a prisoner of dreams prove fruitless. She’s written him off as a stalker, as someone plagued by the loss of his mental faculties, and as a nuisance. If he could just get her to take him seriously then perhaps they could migrate towards the answers hidden in his dreams together.
Following the advice of the mystic Madame Olga, Carmine is able to finally reach Renata and together they set upon a journey wrought with temptations and intrigue, all wrapped around a binding spell of ancient love and magic. In their dreams, the truth lies in wait, and Renata and Carmine shall take small steps down a long path of a relationship that reaches far beyond the ties of current life or anything they could have ever imagined on their own. They’ll meet friends along the way who will guide them, and they will make their share of enemies in the process. But Carmine and Renata will stay the course no matter the pain or tribulations, and their friendship will transition into something much more.
Renata (Forbidden Love) is the debut novel by Australian author Jay Morati. Written in a combination of fictional prose and what may be perceived as a reflective tone from a personal journal, the novel takes many twists and turns throughout. The main character of Carmine is the dominant narrator, and at times I wondered how closely the story of his character was parallel to the author’s own life experiences. The vivid descriptions of Italy and the young character’s time there were probably my favorite, and I instantly fell in love with the mystical creature of Madame Olga. I would encourage the author to continue on with her story, as I had many questions as to her origin and actual stake in Carmine’s story left on the table. She was so cheeky and well-written, and I truly enjoyed their exchanges.
On the flip side, there were times I found the female lead, Renata, to be almost unbearable. I wouldn’t have blamed Carmine one bit if he’d opened the door and pitched her out of the moving car without looking back. She didn’t seem as emotionally invested as she should have been, in my opinion, and her spoiled princess persona made her rather unlikable, which was disappointing in the romantic-essence aspect. Where Carmine was relatable and rather humble, Renata was portrayed as someone not only unattainable but someone that you’d rather leave alone in the first place. As I read on, I couldn’t understand why Carmine would even want to pursue something with her, outside of the fact that he truly believes that they are soulmates. She was immature and in some cases, rather rude.
Giving the book 3.5 stars, I recommend it to those who enjoy stories of the mystic and somewhat paranormal. It is essentially a story about past lives and the reincarnation of an unbreakable line, and this is a subject that I’ve always personally found rather fascinating, as I do believe in rebirth of spirits. The last 3/4 of the book needed a bit more editing; it felt as if the author was trying to cram too much in and it could have been left for a sequel (as I am assuming there will be one due to the cliffhanger ending). A few topics were brought up and skimmed over and left me wanting much more, primarily the magical aspects. Maybe I’ll feel a bit more invested in Renata’s character in the sequel should there be one; at the end of this one I feel that Carmine could do better. All in all, Renata (Forbidden Love) is a grand showing for a debut author. This book is due out at the end of November, 2017.