REVIEW: Chaos in Milan – Edale Lane

Chaos in Milan - Edale Lane

Genre: Historical, Fantasy

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian

Reviewer: Devon

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About The Book

From Award-winning FF Historical Romance Author Edale Lane.

One woman stands between chaos and order – the Night Flyer!

When chaos strikes at the heart of Milan, it is up to Florentina’s alter-ego the Night Flyer to stop it. As Florentina and Madelena’s love deepens, so does the well of danger surrounding them. The race is on to discover the mysterious Shadow Guild and uncover who is behind the deadly rampage, but Florentina’s mission is threatened by a gang of assassins. Can the Night Flyer prevail, or will Maddie’s love be ripped from her arms?

Chaos in Milan is the third book in Edale Lane’s Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like action and suspense, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and a sweet romance, then you’ll want to complete the Night Flyer saga. Order your copy of Chaos in Milan today!

The Review

Chaos of Milan is the exciting conclusion to Edale Lane’s Night Flyer trilogy, and it definitely lives up to the promises of the first two novels.

Florentina de Bossi is back, scouring the streets (and skies!) of Milan for clues about the Shadow Guild, the secret organization trying to murder Madelena Torelli, Florentina’s lover and sister to Alessandro Torelli, one of the most powerful merchants of Milan. As in past Night Flyer novels, poor Florentina has a lot on her plate.

As the mysterious, masked Night Flyer, she must protect not only her beloved but also all of the people of Milan from the chaos-inciting Shadow Guild—not to mention the pesky assassins ever on her tail.

As the unassuming tinker for the Torelli family’s silk business, Florentina is equally busy repairing equipment, tutoring Madelena’s two precocious young children, and shielding her relationship from unfriendly gossip.

Fortunately, she doesn’t have to deal with any of these problems alone: Madelene and Alessandro now both know that Florentina is the Night Flyer, and the two prove to be invaluable companions throughout Florentina’s harrowing journey.

There are so many wonderful characters to follow in this series, and it was a delight seeing so many of them grow and settle into happy endings in this final book (with plenty of room for more adventures to blossom, of course). I will of course never stop singing praise for Florentina and Madelena’s gentle romance and steadfast bond, but I also loved that the series spent time developing other characters.

I especially enjoyed reading about the Viscardi family. Benetto Viscardi in particular transforms from a seemingly irredeemable villain in the first novel (Merchants of Milan) to a dedicated husband, doting father, and kind businessman. I’m not sure Benetto really deserves to live happily-ever-after since he spent so many years as a cruel husband, uncaring father, and ruthless businessman, but I do believe that he has changed, which he shows time and time again in this novel through his care for his family.

I also have a decided soft spot for Daniella, Benetto’s wife. Her character seemed so timid and beaten down in the first novel that I feared she was doomed to be sacrificed by the narrative in some way, either early on to showcase Benetto’s cruelty or later to enable him to “grow” via the pain of losing her. Instead, she’s still alive and happy (if not entirely well) in this final novel! Although she’s still suffering from an illness that is implied will likely take her life in the near future, Daniella gets to spend this novel surrounded by people who care about and value her.

There’s also Agnese, Benetto and Daniella’s daughter. Even in the first novel Agnese showed a lot of promise. Although she was clearly intimidated by her father, she wasn’t afraid to pursue her own happiness by seeing her beloved Antonio (Alessandro’s eldest son) in secret. In this novel, she got a few very sweet moments, such as when her father sells his precious family ring to ensure he can afford to throw her a grand party for her sixteenth birthday.

Then of course there is the Torelli family, a constant source of comfort and support for Florentina. While Madelena was of course my favorite Torelli and her brother Alessandro featured prominently in this novel as well, I have also grown fond of quite a few more members of the family over the course of the Night Flyer trilogy. For instance, Antonio, Alessandro’s brave if slightly naive eldest son, joins the Italian army in the first novel (Merchants of Milan) in the hope of winning the approval of the father of the girl he loves (which is no easy task when said father is Benetto Viscardi who, at that point in the series, views the Torelli’s as his enemies).

The middle novel (Secrets of Milan) details some of Antonio’s time in the army as he learns the complexities and heartache of war, and I was glad to see him finally come home safely in this last novel. Furthermore, it seems that he’s grown into a mature and kind person. Although I never doubted his dedication to his beloved Agnese, I was delighted to see him stand up so strongly to his future father-in-law in declaring his intention to wed Agnese.

Other Torellis I’ve enjoyed reading about are Matteo and Betta (Madelena’s two young children who adore Florentina), Alessandro’s wife Portia (who is level-headed and an early supporter of Florentina and Madelena’s relationship), and Pollonia (Alessandro and Portia’s teenage daughter).

In this novel, Pollonia discovers the truth about Florentina and Madelena’s relationship and initially reacts badly. However, Portia helps guide her and she soon warms to the couple. If I’m remembering correctly, apart from one minor character in the second novel who suspects the nature of Florentina and Madelena’s relationship and muses over the possibility of using it against them, Pollonia is the only character who reacts negatively to discovering that Florentina and Madelena are a couple. This was so refreshing for a story told in a historical setting.

Overcoming prejudice often becomes a major theme in historical or even fantasy settings. This can of course be a positive factor if done well, but it was such a joy to read about queer women in 16th century Italy who get to focus on taking down assassins and agents of chaos while surrounded by family and friends who accept and love them.

In fact, Lane does an excellent job of weaving more queer characters into the narrative as well. For instance, Florentina’s childhood friend Cesare is candid about his attraction to men, and in this last novel Florentina meets Caterina, a dressmaker and agent of the Cavalieri (another secret organization but one that promotes peace rather than chaos) who laments how difficult it can be signaling her availability to other women. The inclusion of these characters helped show that Florentina and Madelena, rather than being exceptions, are part of a bigger network of queer people who have always been a part of society, even if society hasn’t always highlighted (or in many cases has actively tried to hide) their presence.

In case it isn’t already clear, I really enjoyed the characters in the Night Flyer trilogy. If I had to pick out one criticism though, it would be that I wish the side characters had been given more opportunities to factor into the main narrative. A lot of characters had their own arcs that developed alongside the main story, but I was hoping to see more intersection, especially toward the end.

For instance, I would have loved for Florentina to have a chance to actually see for herself how much the Viscardi family has changed. She hears about some of this from other characters, but I think getting to see her perspective as she realizes that her actions in the first novel actually led the previously dysfunctional Viscardi family to find happiness, love, and peace would have been a great moment.

It also would have been cool to see characters like Antonio and Portia drawn into some of the mysteries as I think they could have each provided valuable perspective. There’s still plenty of room at the end of this last book to visualize these events taking place, however, so I don’t think it ruins the enjoyment of the series at all.

This series also has a lovely intellectual feel throughout. Lane clearly has done extensive research on the time period, such as historical figures, technology, cultural practices, and so much more. I definitely feel like I gleaned all kinds of interesting information over the course of reading this series.

This novel even features several real-life renaissance artists. The characters briefly encounter Michelangelo while discussing their intent to view his newest masterpiece (the David), and Leonardo da Vinci, who has been a persistent part of the story’s background since book one (he personally taught Florentina many of the skills she uses to make the inventions and weapons of the Night Flyer) finally makes an appearance. 

Overall, I have enjoyed my time with this series immensely. The Night Flyer trilogy makes an excellent pandemic read. There’s plenty of high-stakes excitement but also lots of warmth and a strong sense that the characters genuinely care for and will protect each other. I would highly recommend this series to fans of historical WLW fiction, or anyone who is interested in immersing themselves in the adventures of a masked vigilante in 16th century Milan.

Happy reading!

The Reviewer

Devon Widmer is a grumpy scientist by day, a scribbling daydreamer by night, and a sleep-deprived parent full-time. She recently graduated with a PhD in Chemistry, a degree which she plans to put to good use reading and writing a multitude of science fiction (and fantasy) stories. Devon’s talents include drinking copious amounts of coffee, forgetting where she set her glasses, and laughing at her own jokes. Also, although she often describes herself as grumpy, she promises she’s actually quite nice!

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