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Reviewed by Lex Allen for Readers' Favorite
Standing before the world's largest oil painting, Tintoretto's Paradise--a monumental depiction of Heaven--in Venice, Nick hears a disembodied whisper, "Amore mio." His wife Julia believes him to be delusional and insists he see a doctor, but Nick insists the voice is real and returns to the museum. Blacking out in the museum, Nick flashes back to life as a 16th-century Venetian swordsman tasked to seduce a married aristocrat, Isabella Scalfini, but instead, he falls in love. In the present, through the painting, Isabella implores Nick to liberate her from a powerful order of religious vigilantes who judge and sentence souls to the canvas for eternity. The religious order still exists and will stop at nothing to keep Nick from releasing not only Isabella but thousands of other imprisoned souls whom the order claims are evil.
Rob Samborn's debut novel, The Prisoner of Paradise, is a winner. Combining romance, historical, metaphysical, and conspiracy elements into a thriller that supersedes several of today's best-selling authors is no easy task. However, Samborn's writing style indicates a writer whose skill shines through its smooth flow, akin to that of the great names in thriller fiction from Poe to Ludlum, Koontz, Child and, yes, Dan Brown. The art world setting of Venice, Italy's past and present is carefully and explicitly portrayed, exposing a sense of reality interwoven within a masterfully orchestrated fiction story that first-time novelists often miss. Rob Samborn doesn't miss a trick. Every character is true to life. Every scene is perfectly set, and the action flows like the scenes from a well-directed and photographed movie. The Prisoner of Paradise is a tale with a solid sense of reality, which moves through time periods, entailing action, adventure, romance, the everlasting battle between good and evil, and the possibilities of a metaphysical universe. It's a story you don't want to miss by an author you'll be hearing a lot more about.