My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . .
Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.
But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.
Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.
Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?
Some books I devour, some books I savor. This is an absolutely lovely book to savor. It took me a few days to read it because I was feeling every word. The writing flows with a beautiful cadence that was soothing even with some of the drama and heartache the characters were experiencing. I found that the two settings of Atlanta and Italy, the descriptions of Ben's Italian cooking, and the details of Emily's art restoration and painting fascinated me and brought a unique vibe of contrasts that complemented each other and created metaphors within the story. They especially spoke to the creative side of me and I connected with those parts of the book just as much as with the characters, if not more so. Reading this book felt like a therapeutic experience!
Emily serves as a catalyst for change in the dynamics of Ben's family and provides a way for secrets to be revealed. By coming to light, repressed emotions are released and while sometimes painful, it allows healing to take place. Simultaneously her own family dysfunction undergoes a transition and the uncertainty all around her takes a toll on her confidence and stability, but also releases her from the need to be in control. I loved how her relationships affected her art and ability to reach another level.
I have to say that I love that the level of romance increased in this book from the author's last one. Ben is the consummate charming Italian heartthrob, but it was pointed out that unlike his brother, he was unaware of his appeal. Which made him all the more appealing, of course ;) The genuine connection between Emily and Ben was a pleasure to read, especially since it was so unexpected for both of them. The focus shifts when Emily meets and becomes involved with his family, but my interest never waned since the author takes flawed characters that are raw and real, and shares the emotional and introspective journey of their life-changing experiences.
This is not a book to miss! Highly recommend!!!
(I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher; all opinions in this review are my own)