Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dreams of Tuscany by Kate Fitzroy

This contemporary romance novel begins where many Italophiles would like to be, viewing a Tuscan farm to purchase:
"I shall have to buy this house!" he said, laughing, "I am not going to pretend otherwise.  It is the house of my dreams.  My Tuscan dream!"

"Did you know that the house is called Villa Sognidoro?" she asked, adding with yet another wide smile.  "It translates as Villa of golden Dreams...or sweet dreams, as we would say in English."

The "she" and "he" above are Alex, a wealthy English vacation house hunter, and Zoe, a hard-working English estate-agent based in Tuscany.  Zoe gets a very bad case of jump-the-hot-client, so bad that I wondered about her sanity.  She thinks to herself, after spending an hour showing Alex a Tuscan farm:
"...she would happily spend the rest of her life with him."
Love at first sight hits other characters in the book, left and right.  That is not really a surprise, considering this is a contemporary love story.  The author also shows her characters' love growing, and she shows solid love that has lasted a lifetime together.  We also get a glimpse of some unhealthy forms of love, like the overbearing love of a possessive mother.

Jane Austen is mentioned early on, and Austen character names appear here and there.  I suspect that is no coincidence.  The misunderstandings, the eccentric characters, the rich handsome men, the helpful couples, the gossip, the bad guys, the sympathetic protagonist and equally sympathetic love interest:  Jane Austen strikes again!  There is no doubt that the woman will be inspiring romantic writers for generations to come.

Have you never been to Tuscany?  Are you unsure what all the fuss is about?  Here is a two minute video introduction to the lovely, timeless Tuscany:

The book is written in British English, which to an American will be sprinkled with a few words that might cause confusion, and it will be seemingly missing a few hundred commas or so.  Nothing too onerous.  It is well-written and well-edited, and I'm glad I requested a review-copy.  There is gentle humor, a sympathetic protagonist, and a satisfying love story.

The setting is stunning, of course.  Tuscany, like all of Italy, has been invaded by foreigners seeking La Dolce Vita.  Perhaps it will be like a scale that tips and tips and tips until the invasion of non-Italians tips the scale so far that La Dolce Vita disappears for good?  Who knows.  But this contemporary romance is a fun escape, and a solid entry in the contemporary romance set in Italy genre.

From the book's description:
Estate agent Zoe Bennett meets a client, Alex Knight, to show him around a derelict Tuscan villa.  The perfect vista across the valley of sun-scorched red earth and grape vines outlined against the azure sky is so breathtaking that Alex is determined to buy it and restore it to its former glory.  When the viewing is followed by a flirtatious lunch at Zoe’s favourite trattoria, she hopes that the villa may not be the only thing Alex has fallen for that day…

However, she soon discovers that Alex already has a family, so regretfully tries to move on.  Then Massimo, a handsome environmental lawyer, enters the scene, dazzling Zoe with gifts and declarations of undying love – yet she still cannot get Alex out of her mind.  When the villa’s beautiful landscape is endangered and Alex stands to lose his dream property, Zoe begins to question Massimo’s motives.  But can she save the villa for Alex in time?  And will the mysterious and alluring Mr. Knight turn out to be her Mr. Right after all?

Dreams of Tuscany is published by Carina UK, a digital imprint of Harlequin Books.

Here are direct links to the book at

Would you like to see some more of Tuscany?  Here is a video called, appropriately, Dreams of Tuscany, a compilation of beautiful photographs of Tuscany:

This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.

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