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Chasing The Italian Dream By Jo Thomas

Chasing The Italian Dream‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas.

Lucia has worked hard as a lawyer in Wales, aiming for a big promotion she hopes will shortly come her way. Finally taking a well-earned break at her grandparents’ house in southern Italy, the sunshine, lemon trees and her nonna’s mouth-watering cooking make her instantly feel at home. But she’s shocked to learn that her grandfather is retiring from the beloved family pizzeria and will need to sell. Lucia can’t bear the thought of the place changing hands – especially when she discovers her not-quite-ex-husband Giacomo wants to take it over! Then bad news from home forces Lucia to re-evaluate what she wants from life. Is this her chance to carry on the family tradition and finally follow her dreams?

I spent my Saturday with my head in Jo’s latest book, the perfect escapism story to curl up with filled with strong women and delicious recipes that literally made my mouth water.

The story is seen through the narrative of Lucia, a daughter of Italian parents who spends 2 weeks each year with her grandparents in Italy. With her out of office off, she longs for the Italian sun and to reunited with her Nonno and Nonna. But when her Nonno announces his retirement from the family restaurant and Lucia is distraught at the change until she realises that she wants to run the family business, but it’s unheard of a woman being a pizzeria owner in the small town. As well dealing with the shock of her Nonna’s retirement, she has to face up to her ex-husband Giacomo who she never divorced who also wants to buy her Nonno’s business. The pair of them end up in a secret competition creating delicious pizzas and dishes and the winner gets the restaurant.

I absolutely love Jo’s writing, set in picturesque settings that sweep the reader away from the temperamental weather that we’re currently experiencing. Lucia is a great leading lady accompanied by other strong leading ladies and an eager kitten. I loved Lucia’s determination to change the dynamics of the small town and prove that women are just as worthy to be business women, she’s adamant to bring the town into the 21st century and get rid of the silly traditions and notions. I adored her grandparents, especially her warm and bubbly grandmother who’s quietly encouraging her grand daughter to make a change. Also interactions with Lucia and Giacomo make for tender and charming reading as the pair of them compete against each other and face up to old ghosts and feelings.

Beautifully written and poignant from the first page, Jo has written another beautiful and heartwarming romantic tale that hooks the reader from the first page. With vivid descriptions of mouth watering recipes and the Italian landscapes, ‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ is an inspirational joy to read about one woman’a journey and determination to make a change.

You can pre-order ‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 10th June 2021.

The Favour By Laura Vaughan

The Favour‘The Favour’ is the latest book by Laura Vaughan.

When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy. In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set. But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined.

‘The Favour’ is an interesting story of lust, jealousy and obsession about one woman’s watchful eye on the sidelines that gives her power when she witnesses something that could potentially ruin other people’s lives.

The story is seen through the narrative of Ada Howell, stepdaughter to a famous author who sadly passes away, resulting in Ada and her mother leaving Wales for London and a completely different life. Although Anthony Howell was not Ada’s biographical father, she was close to the man and aspired to be a writer like him, name dropping him at every opportunity. Looking forward to going to Oxford University, her aunt Delilah has the grand idea that Ada should go on Dilettanti Discoveries, a tour of Italy. It’s whilst on this tour, that she makes life long friends including the rich and sophisticated siblings Annabelle and Lorcan. But one night a terrible tragedy occurs when one of the students falls to her death and the 3 are the only witnesses.

The story flows over a number of years, as Ada uses her power of knowledge from that particular night to get close within the folds of Lorcan’s and Annabelle society and achieve success. Although she is not openly threatening the duo, they are aware of the favour, but others in the circle particularly Oliver, a pompous character who dislikes Ada is suspicious of the close friendship. Ada also dislikes Oliver, as whilst in Italy, they were both vying for the attention for their fellow peers with arguments and childish remarks.

For me, this book was an interesting story but I really disliked Ada and I occasionally I found this to be frustrating reading. She was deceitful, sneaky but terribly clever and not remorseful of her actions but that probably made her a great character. She longs to be on the inside and not on the sidelines and will stop at nothing to achieve success whether that’s using her father’s name to her advantage or witness to a young girl’s death where she only knows the truth of that night.

‘The Favour’ is an fascinating and intelligent story seen from the narrative of a dislikable character that keeps the reader on edge with this atmospheric story of lust and ambition.

You can buy ‘The Favour’ from Amazon.

A Postcard From Italy By Alex Brown

A Postcard From Italy‘A Postcard From Italy’ is the latest book by Alex Brown.

Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930’s. Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother. Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?

It’s been a well since I read a book by Alex Brown and I forgot how lovely it is to curl up with one of her stories and how they can transport you off to another land and forget about all your worries.

In her latest book we meet gentle and kind Grace, who’s been taken for a ride by her domineering and horrible mother called Cora and her possible boyfriend Phil, letting people walk all over her and tell her what to do, she finds solace in her job where she gathers information in a storage company. One day, she’s given the task of sorting out a storage unit belonging to a glamorous woman called Connie and she finds herself on a mission to find out what became the infamous Connie. This journey takes Grace on an adventure to Italy, where she not only uncovers Connie’s life but also finds herself looking at her own life as well, along with the help of the handsome Ellis.

I loved this book, the combination of the exotic location as well as the endearing characters made this a really good book to get stuck into. I loved Grace and often sympathised with how people treated her but as the story progresses we see her blossom and grow in confidence which is really lovely reading.

The story is seen from the perspective of both Connie and Grace which gives the story an interesting slant. Connie is wonderfully glamorous and the Italian setting adds an exotic element to the tale.

Wonderfully written and vividly picturesque, ‘A Postcard From Italy’ is romantic and heartwarming story about life discoveries and starting over. I adored it!

You can buy ‘A Postcard From Italy’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Save The Date! by Allie Spencer

Save The Date‘Save The Date!’ is the latest book by Allie Spencer.

Family weddings can be hell and, marooned in Italy for her cousins wedding, Ailsa can be forgiven for thinking that this one is worse than most. With the bride and groom at loggerheads and the guests in uproar, it is a million miles away from the rest and relaxation that she had been hoping for. And, then suddenly in the middle of mayhem, she comes face to face with Nick, the man she walked out on just a few months earlier. How can Ailsa help get the wedding back on track when she and Nick can’t stop arguing? But if they do, she might remember why she fell in love with him in the first place and then there really would be trouble.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Save The Date!’, I thought it was a gloriously upbeat story that was just the perfect accompaniment to a summer evening. Filled with lovely, playful, interesting characters and hilarious scenarios, it was hard not to read this book without a smile on your face. Ailsa, the lead character in the story, is a sweetheart with a kind and caring nature. She comes to Italy for her cousin’s wedding even though a family feud has thrown the family apart, she replies to Jess’s pleas and turns up, hiding the fact that she is dealing with her own secret heartache, so she puts on a brave face to help her cousin, Jess deal with her controlling and demanding wedding planner, Veronica. Jess is a breath of fresh air in the story, with a sweet innocence about life, her and her husband Justin, see life through rose-tinted glasses which gives the story an endearing flow to it. And with the addition of Nick, Ailsa’s handsome and artistic ex and a mischievous and hyper Jack Russell who goes by the name of Arthur, who reeks havoc wherever he goes, there is plenty of fun and drama in throughout this book.

A refreshing, light and warmhearted love story, ‘Saved By The Date!’ is the perfect summer pick me up!

You can buy Save the Date! on Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Affair By Gill Paul

The Affair‘The Affair’ is the latest book by Gill Paul.

In Rome 1961, Diana Bailey is brought to the set of ‘Cleopatra’ to begin work as a historical advisor and strikes up a friendship with young make up artist, Helen. Tensions are running high on the film set as the film is running into financial difficulty and the paparazzi are whipping up a media storm over the very public affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. As Diana adjusts to her new life away from her troubled marriage, she seeks solace in Ernesto, a charming member of the film crew. But as she grows closer to him, she spends less time with Helen, who is harbouring a dark secret of her own.

‘The Affair’ is the first book that I have read by Gill Paul and I honestly thought it was a captivating story about one of the silver screens most admired and sought after heroines.

Told beautifully through the eyes of bystanders, the story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s torrid love affair is revealed whilst filming one of most cinematographic films of all times, ‘Cleopatra’. Set in Italy, the story is vividly descriptive, from the beautiful landscapes to the breathtaking costumes, the story was such a gloriously captivating tale, that I couldn’t put it down.

Within ‘The Affair’ there are three stories, the main story revolves around Diana, as she embarks on her adventure on Italy and her new found relationship in Ermesto whilst her husband stays at home in England, the sub stories are the affair between Elizabeth and Richard and the paparazzi that are eager to capture their every moment together and finally there is Scott, a young American journalist who wants to be taken seriously as a journalist and reveal Italy’s drug lords but all his editor wants is stories of Elizabeth and Richard. With alternate chapters of the story being seen through the characters eyes, with twists and turns thrown in throughout, I thought it flowed cleverly together and came together nicely in the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Affair’ I thought it was a wonderfully unique story that had my full attention from the very start, filled with glamorous locations and characters, this story oozes sophistication and sex appeal that made it a very hard book to put down. A story that is beautifully written and obviously a lot of hard work went into, this book is definately for fans of Elizabeth Taylor and for those who had a keen interest in her great affair with Richard Burton.

You can buy The Affair on Amazon and is available from good bookshops.