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Sunday, January 15, 2017

From Rome with Love by Jules Wake

Title: From Rome with Love
Author: Jules Wake
Publisher: 13 January 2017 by Harper Collins UK, Harper Impulse
Pages: 314 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, contemporary romance, culture Italy
My Rating: 4.5 crowns


If you can’t stand the heat…
Rome is the city of love and seduction, right? Not if you find yourself staying in a beautiful apartment with your childhood-friend-turned-arch-enemy, Will Ryan…no matter how hot he is!
Romance is the last thing on Lisa’s mind. She’s got more important things to focus on, like hunting down her estranged father. Except when her search falls at the first hurdle, Will doesn’t just help her get back on track, he also shares the romantic sights – and exquisite tastes – of the Eternal City, and Lisa starts to wonder if it’s not just Rome seducing her.
Only, as Lisa and Will dig into the past, neither of them is prepared for the long-buried secrets they reveal. Secrets that will turn both their world’s upside down …

My Thoughts

In June I reviewed a Jules Wake book, ‘From Italy With Love’, and  thought it was loads of fun (click on the title to see the review). So when an opportunity came up to read another from the series, I jumped at the chance. What a fun series this is proving to be and although characters do arise from past books, each is very much a standalone read. You do not need to have read any of the other books but if you have, it’s like revisiting old friends and having a catch up which was nice.

I enjoyed this book tremendously - rating it even higher than previous ones. It was coasting along as a solid chick lit read, until about three quarters the way through and BAM! Such an unforeseen plot twist was introduced that elevated it that little bit more for me. For this is where Jules Wake excels, as her tales (like I wrote previously) are not just ‘fluffy’ chick lit, but contain intricate twists that, although you know you will get your happy ending, they keep you very much engaged with the characters.

What I also thoroughly enjoyed about this particular one was the depth and detail Wake provides you with on everything to do with Rome. She provides the almost perfect mix of romance and culture that I feel I have just arrived back from visiting the famous city myself! There are the obvious trips to the likes of the Vatican and Spanish Steps, but thanks to Lisa’s infamous guidebook, I learnt so much.

‘A list? You can’t do Rome by list. You have to live and breathe it.’

Add to that the amazing Italian cuisine with trips to authentic restaurants or wineries and it’s a complete getaway. As Will introduces Lisa to blind tasting tests on everything from olive oil to cheese production to learning the finer skills of wine tasting, you can’t help but literally savour the moment, as indeed the passion for food positively glowed’ off the page.

One final winning aspect for me is the humour. I love both the lead characters and their bantering with each other is phenomenal.

‘Nice. Me? No you’ve definitely got the wrong man.’
‘I said nice. We are talking the dog’s arse end on the scale of compliments.

Not to mention Lisa’s inner dialogue that I could very much relate to at times:

‘He wouldn’t be checking he had his phone or passport with him once, let alone on the half hour, every half hour.’

‘The horrible pull-along case, which had seemed so brilliant earlier, suddenly had a life of its own and did not want to partake in the hurried slalom through other travellers all heading down the same wide corridor.’

From Rome with Love is the perfect mix of all that is Italian especially the food, wine and culture. The friendships, romance and especially the hidden family secrets make this a wonderful read that kept me engaged and smiling all the way through.

‘Give people that feeling of holidays, the taste of Italy and the laid-back sense of having all the time in the world to enjoy the intense flavour of sunshine and tradition.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale

Title: The Florentine Bridge
Author: Vanessa Carnevale
Publisher: 19 December 2016 by Harlequin (Australia), TEEN / MIRA
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: contemporary romance, culture Italy/Tuscany
My Rating: 4.5 crowns


Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?

Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany

My Thoughts

The famous Florentine Bridge! Over the Arno River,’ he says. ‘Oh, right … I’ll make sure I look for it.’ ‘It’s only one of the most romantic spots in Florence.’

The Florentine Bridge is the debut novel from Australian author Vanessa Carnevale. Set against a gorgeous Tuscan backdrop, it is truly a captivating love story. If you are in the mood for curling up and being transported to Italy, whilst witnessing a very emotional love story, then this is the book for you. Yet it is so much more than just a love story, being filled with a passion for art, language and indeed, everything Italian, is most engaging.

Carnevale is obviously very familiar with all things Italian and that translates wonderfully well to the page. Her love of the land, and indeed the whole atmosphere, shines through. From Florence to smaller coastal towns, her setting descriptions, references to art, culture and the food are vivid and enticing. Yet she still manages to bring that touch of Australia to her writing which I love.

‘Wish I’d taken the time to at least iron my shirt and make a half-decent effort. I look so … Australian.’

Apart from the two leads, there is a wonderful cast of secondary characters that help meld the setting with the story and bring it altogether, making this a complete read. It is a very emotional read as it involves recovering from cancer treatment which would be daunting. So daunting, Mia had to remove herself from those she loved in her attempts to start over.  I also really appreciated the use of art/painting as a medium for expressing grief, sorrow, healing and love.

‘It’s like that messy web of my past is still wrapped around me and I can’t — don’t — know how to shake it off.’

My reason for taking away half a star is that a) they were both so young (Mia not yet 20 years old) and b) it all happened so quickly, ‘instalove’. Is this credible? Well, it does happen in the real world and you have to suspend your head thinking for your heart feeling. Also, both Mia and Luca’s actions towards the end of the book were challenging, probably more of a reflection of their young age and I found it a little frustrating.

‘Yet my heart doesn’t care that we’ve known each other for less than forty-eight hours.’

All that said, this really was a lovely bit of escapism about growth and change, love and acceptance. A recommended read from an up and coming Aussie novelist.

‘Today I am a clean sheet of paper, ready for a new picture, for a new story to be brought to life.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release