The Scent of Rosa's Oil
Kensington, Jan 2008, $14.00
Near the end of the nineteenth century in Genoa, Rosa was born to a Luna brothel prostitute who died in childbirth; her father is an unknown patron of the facility. Madame C raises Rosa as her own with the help of her girls. However, they hide from the youngster what is going on upstairs in the house of ill repute although Rosa wonders about the "the game" upstairs played by men and her aunts.
On her sixteenth birthday, Rosa’s friend Isabel the witch gives her a magical perfume to wear at a party Madam C is throwing for her. That night the Mayor caught by the essence plays "the game" with Rosa; when Madame C catches them, she angrily blames her ward and tosses Rosa out of the only home she has known because the mayor was the older woman’s dream intended. Isabel takes Rosa in and soon afterward the teen finds a boyfriend longshoreman Renato, but hides her past from him. However, when she learns that she risks Renato's life and their love with her lies and omissions, Rosa must decide whether she should tell her beloved about being raised in a brothel.
This is an entertaining coming of age turn of the century romance starring a likable protagonist. Fans will enjoy the heroine’s abrupt rush to adulthood following Rosa’s olfactory tryst. Although at times Rosa’s escapades seem to obvious for someone growing up in a brothel and moving in with a witch, historical romance readers will enjoy Lina Simoni’s fine aromatic tale.