Escape to the sun and head off to Italy, with the wonderfully warm and ever-so-page-turning Leonie Mack!
TV journalist Lou feels battered and bruised after her divorce from Phil, the father of her daughter Edie. Her confidence and sense of fun have steadily been drained away, and she isn’t sure who she is any more.
When the opportunity arises to accompany Edie on a music camp in Italy for a month in the summer, Lou jumps at the chance for new adventures, new horizons and new friends. The hazy warmth of the summer sun, shining brightly over the stunning Lake Garda, slowly brings Lou back to life.
Nick Romano, Edie’s music teacher, loves being home in Italy, but coaching his students for their concert in Milan, is bringing back difficult memories. His blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction, although a summer fling would be easier to conduct without the scrutiny of his mother Greta, not to mention the interference of his extended Italian family.
As the summer passes, full of sunshine and breath-taking scenery, gelato and delicious feasts, Lou and Nick get ever closer. But as the time for farewell creeps up on them, will they be able to say goodbye and leave their memories behind in the Italian sun, or can a summer romance last a lifetime?
Leonie Mack is back with a sizzling, sun-baked love story.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I love romance set in Italy, and as this one is set around Lake Garda, somewhere I’ve visited, I couldn’t resist it.
Just about to be divorced Lou, is still reeling from the fallout, we meet her ex in the opening chapters, and he is not likeable. Her confidence is low despite her career in front of the TV cameras, and it’s clear she is a kind and loving woman who doesn’t value herself. Her latest meeting with Mr (Nick) Romano right after her latest confrontation with the ex is unsettling for them both and makes her wonder whether helping out on the school music camp in Italy is sensible.
The chemistry sizzling between Lou and Nick gets hotter in beautiful Lake Garda, and there are lots of nearly moments that are romantic. The conflicts to their possible relationship are both internal and external, but they are good for each other, and you want them to find happiness together.
The musical setting adds authenticity to the story and is integral to Nick’s backstory. The balance of humour, poignancy and romance is good, and the ending is romantic and uplifting.
Leonie Mack is a debut novelist whose first book My Christmas Number One was published by Boldwood in September 2020. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!
Extract from Italy Ever After – Leonie Mack
Damn him. Phil was winning this game. His look was tolerant. His eyes were warm, even vaguely fond. Lou was losing. Her jaw was clenched so hard she felt like a petulant child with braces. She smoothed her hand down her tailored skirt. Confronting him in her work clothes was supposed to remind her she could deal with him like an adult. But really, she wanted to run home and change into her sweats, as she usually did after her shift.
‘She’s eleven, Lou. This is her last summer before secondary school. Can’t you let up a little?’
He was the voice of reason, too? Phil never raised his voice because he never needed to. He was the kind of man who spoke and it was done. He was attractive, too – even now at forty-four – which meant he’d never had to stay single for long. She couldn’t blame the woman who’d become his girlfriend only a few months after their separation – except that she could blame her and she would. It was the right of a nearly officially ex-wife, right?
‘All Edie wants to do is play music. Elite tuition and orchestra rehearsals is her idea of paradise. I’m not forcing her to do anything.’
His lips twitched. ‘And a few weeks in the Italian sunshine is your idea of a nice free holiday?’
Strike one. She would have been satisfied to hear him behaving like the juvenile ex-husband, except that he was an expert at pressing her overdeveloped sense of her own inadequacy button.
‘It’s not a holiday for me. I’m going as a chaperone and I have to pay my own way. The only reason I’ve volunteered is because Edie is one of the youngest kids going. Most of the parents are looking forward to the three weeks of childcare before the competition’
‘You can always send her to us. You know that. You don’t have to martyr yourself.’
Lou choked on his sympathy, wishing he would do the same. She took a deep breath. She should have accepted by now that Phil’s wiring where she was concerned would never change.
‘Can we get back to the point? Edie wants to go and it’s a unique opportunity. This youth music festival only happens every four years. She’ll get to play in an orchestra under a professional conductor and participate in a competition.’
Phil held up a hand. ‘I did read the information you emailed me. But I fail to see why our eleven-year-old has to participate in a very expensive competition. You’ve already forced my hand with the school choice. I’d say you’re pretty low on credit with me at the moment.’
Lou recoiled. She needed ‘credit’ to get Phil to consider her opinion about their daughter? How was an ex-wife supposed to earn credit? Not only was she forced to serenely ignore the practical difficulties of having day-to-day responsibility for their daughter alone, but Phil still required her to manage him to make sure they did their best by Edie. Good God, it was miserable.
Phil looked at her with his unflappably perfect haircut and warm eyes with their distinguished crinkles that on her would be called crow’s feet. It was clear why she’d thrown herself at him twelve years ago when she’d been a young and stupid graduate with too little understanding of the world’s faults – and far too little contraception. What was less clear was how she was supposed to deal with him now.
‘You know how much she loves playing the violin.’
‘I know, she does little else.’
Edie practised especially diligently at Phil’s because it meant less time with the obsequious girlfriend.
‘I’m still not sure I want to encourage her obsession.’
‘Then you’ll be happy to know the camp takes that into account. Although they rehearse every day, there’s also time dedicated to outdoor activities and confidence-building. I think we can both agree that it would be good for Edie to have some confidence outside her musical talent.’
The faintest glint in his eye was the only clue that he was feeling the pressure. But Phil never backed off. Instead, he calmly went on the offensive. ‘So, you plan to make Edie do a high ropes course while you sit in the sun at Sirmione sipping an Aperol Spritz?’