I’ve been reading a lot of Very Serious Books lately. Heavy issues, heavy prose, and heavy thoughts. These reads are wonderful and can teach us so much and give us insight into experiences that we would never be able to experience otherwise. They can also be very taxing on you after awhile and that’s where I found myself when I realized I had a review due. I began several books but gave up on them because I just couldn’t do another “heavy” book. I paged through my Kindle and found Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren.

In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in Fourteenth-Century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds… until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the Fourteenth Century and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

I blew through this book; it was just what I needed. Did you see where it mentions knights, swords, and Italian hotties in the summary?! This book was fun. It was full of adventure and forbidden love, and did I mention how much fun it was to read? Bergren does an excellent job of creating plausible excuses for how time travel to the 1300′s could happen. She also quickly does away with issues that could be troublesome, such as language barriers and identity, and focuses on the important aspects of creating a very rich and engrossing story.

The heroine of this trilogy (Waterfall is the first novel, Cascade, the second, has been published;I’m halfway through it and enjoying just as much as Waterfall, and Torrent, the third, has just come out. I saw something on Twitter that mayhaps (hee) there will be a fourth, which would thrill me to bits) is Gabriella Betarinni. Gabi is a fairly typical teen, if not a little reserved. Her life, as well as her sister Lia’s, has been dominated by her parents’ careers as archaeologists. While Gabi starts out as a bit befuddled by her situation, she quickly comes into her own and takes charge in her new world, and how!  Bergren does a fabulous job of immersing the reader in the ways of the fourteenth century, but also keeping Gabi a twenty-first century girl. That doesn’t always make things easy for Gabi, but it gives the reader some really great scenes. I don’t know if I read this description somewhere, or if I put it on Gabi myself, but she’s plucky. She’s got spunk, but she’s smart, and as one of the Italian hotties points out, very, very, very stubborn. I like her. A lot.

The hotties. There are several. Come on you guys, who hasn’t thought about being swept off their feet by a gorgeous knight on a horse? In this series you have several to choose from, and they have names like Marcello, Luca, and Fortino! Great, right?

While Waterfall isn’t a heavy read, it isn’t complete fluff either. It delivers some very good messages on faith, compassion, loyalty, inner-strength, and empathy. The story does take place in the 1300′s, they did things a bit different back then, and Gabi struggles with some things. Bergren presents these issues and gets Gabi through them with great aplomb. There are quite a few scenes with detailed violence (I wouldn’t call them graphic or overly gratuitous), but these are knights with swords fighting other knights with swords. I’m guessing you can piece together what might happen.

If you are looking for a great adventure read with an awesome heroine, a swoony love-interest, and like the idea of getting to read about them in more than one book, I suggest you pick up Waterfall. You’ll want Cascade and Torrent right away too, trust me.

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