It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch. How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An original plot that involves timeslip from the 21st-century present day to 17th century Italy.The story centres around Clementina, a young girl who is naive and impressionable. A fusion between timeslip and fantasy in a contemporary and historical setting, it does require you to open your mind, to magic, time travel.
It takes a while, to set the scene, as the book is mainly told from Clementina’s point of view. Some chapters introduce a strange mystical woman. In Clementina’s contemporary school there is a rather creepy man, who is instigating the quest for objects, from the seven wonders of the world. There is a tenuous connection with twenty-first-century environmental problems.
I like the story’s themes, and the timeslip into 17th century Italy, but the plot seems overly complex and it’s hard to follow all the elements, as written, even though you understand the reason for them. The writing is vivid and descriptive, but the author’s vision and fantasy world need to be clearer to the reader.
Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.
Previous books by Olga Swan:
An Englishwoman in America, From Paradis to Perdition, Pensioners in Paradis, The Mazurek Express, Lamplight, Vichyssoise, 3rd Degree Murder.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway Link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
A tragic accident at the opera – or the murder of someone keeping dangerous secrets?
While watching the opera at La Fenice, Nancy Tremayneis shocked to see a woman fall to her death. But how did this tragedy occur?
Newlywed Nancy is accompanying her art professor husband, Leo, on a work trip. As she explores Italy’s beautiful city on the water, she is increasingly compelled to uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding the woman’s death. Leo is adamant it was an accident but his assistant, Archie, reluctantly helps Nancy despite his seeming coldness to her. Nancy’s determination to reveal the facts puts her in harm’s way more than once. As she learns more about Venice’s secrets she realises she may be forced to make a choice – the truth, or her life?
An engaging and atmospheric historical crime novel.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An atmospheric vividly described murder mystery set in Venice Italy, with a courageous heroine, with a past, and a dark web of danger and deceit. Set in the mid-1950s, this story has a glamorous aura, associated with the period, and the iconic Italian setting.
The mystery is true to the British murder mystery style, with a cast of complex characters with hidden pasts, and secrets. The mystery, which begins with a tragic event, leads Nancy on a dark and sometimes life-threatening exploration to find the truth.
She goes against the wishes of her seeming beguine, but controlling new husband, and forms an unexpected alliance. Archie is reluctant to help but feels honour bound to.
The subsequent relationship between Nancy and Archie is interesting, but not concluded.The backstory of Nancy and Leo’s marriage is also revealed as the story progresses. All of the main protagonists are diverse and engaging, as are the situations and settings Nancy is drawn into, in her quest for the truth.
The ending ties up the strands of the mystery well. A complex, historically true murder mystery, set in a wonderfully glamorous, yet sinister Venice.
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 1930s.
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?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Grace needs to escape from her daily life, she has a broken heart, a controlling mother and a family who take her for granted, no wonder she enjoys her work, where she is appreciated. Finding some letters and treasures in a storage unit whose payments have lapsed, Grace finds a kindred spirit in Connie. She finds both, courage and solace whilst learning her story and tracking down her heirs.
There is a good mystery to solve, romance, but most of all a journey of self-discovery for Grace. The Italian scenes are vividly described and give the story added interest. The historical aspect of the story is well-written and shows the problems faced by women in the 1940s. There are obvious similarities between Connie and Grace’s stories, but some important differences too.
This is an emotion-driven story, you feel for both Connie and Grace as they are constrained by their circumstances, familial demands and society’s expectations.
There is a detailed epilogue, which draws the drama together well, and gives Grace the hopeful ending she deserves.
When Isabella Jenkins is unceremoniously fired from her fancy London job, she escapes to Tuscany. A few weeks hiding amongst rolling hills and grape vines at Villa Limoncello sounds exactly like the distraction she needs.
But Italy holds emotional memories for Izzy and with a hapless handyman, a matchmaking village matriarch and a gorgeous – if infuriating – local chef named Luca Castelotti, her quiet Italian getaway turns into an unending cacophony of chaos.
Suddenly Izzie finds herself on a mission to pull off the wedding of the century and maybe get her life in order in the process. If only Luca’s gorgeous smile wasn’t such a powerful distraction…
Guest Post -Daisy James-Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello
First of all, a huge thank you for
having me as a guest on your blog. It’s great to be here to tell you about my
brand-new book Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello.
Anyone who has read one of my books
will know that I love writing stories with a strong sense of place and Villa
Limoncello series is no exception. I spent an amazing few days in Tuscany last
year and loved it so much I just knew I had to write a story that was set
I had a fabulous time researching the
area around Florence; the art, the history, the culture, the traditions, the
scenic towns and villages, the vineyards, but mainly the cuisine! Italy is
famous for its fabulous pizzas and pasta dishes, and its amazing wine – think
prosecco and Chianti – but it’s also well-known for its delicious desserts from
tiramisu to cannoli, from panforte to the many flavours of gelato – blue cheese
and walnut flavour anyone?
In Wedding bells at Villa Limoncello,
Izzie is asked to organise a film shoot at a care-worn villa in the Tuscan
hills where she meets Luca who is a chef at the local trattoria. This gave me
the chance to investigate the recipes particular to the area, as well as the
passion with which Italians approach every aspect of their food – after all,
Italy is where the ‘slow-food’ movement started as a reaction to the creeping
invasion of ‘fast food’. I even read about one family who hadn’t spoken to
their neighbours for twenty years because they put parsley in their minestrone
– there’s passion for you!
As Luca bakes up a storm in the
story, I couldn’t include a culinary scene without having taste-tested the
recipes myself, so I set about having a go at some of the many desserts that
Italy, and especially Tuscany, is famous for. My attempt at ice cream – apricot
and amaretto flavour with crushed biscotti went down very well even though it
didn’t set properly. I then moved on the baking a batch of ricciarelli which are oval-shaped biscuits made with almonds and
dusted in icing sugar – absolutely delicious.
However, my favourite recipe has to
be limoncello tiramisu. It was the perfect dessert for a summer barbeque and
I’ve made it many times because it is so easy to make – no baking required!
Here’s Izzie’s recipe:
Izzie’s Limoncello Tiramisu
100g caster sugar
Zest & juice of 3 lemons
500ml double cream
10g icing sugar
100g lemon curd
200g sponge fingers
Place the caster sugar, water and the zest and juice of two lemons into a small pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add half the limoncello and simmer until syrupy. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone until smooth, then add the double cream, the remaining limoncello, the zest and juice of the remaining lemon and the lemon curd and stir together.
Carefully soak the sponge fingers with the syrup and placed in the base of a ceramic dish, or individual glass dessert dishes, then spoon over a generous helping of the cream mixture and repeat, finishing off with a sprinkle of finely grated lemon zest and a dusting of finely grated milk chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Serve with home-made limoncello cocktails.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo in return for an honest review.
A lovely sad heroine, who is unable to come to terms with losing her twin, a cast of authentic Italians and a Summery, vivid setting, combine to make this romcom a must-read summer book.
Izzy is an interior designer, but after the untimely loss of her twin, she is full of guilt, grief and greyness. This reflects in all aspects of her life. When fate intervenes with an opportunity to stage a fake wedding in Tuscany, she decides to live a little and grasp the opportunity to put some colour and zest back in her drab life.
I loved that each chapter began with a little phrase and a colour, it set the scene and chartered Izzy’s moods perfectly. The plot is simple and the pacing gently, both fitting in with a lighthearted, but sometimes poignant romantic comedy, set in a place full of colour and visual imagery.
The balance of comedy and romance is perfect, and the setting is full of sunshine, it makes you feel warmer and happier with every chapter. With the added bonus of lovely food and more complications than you could ever imagine, this book would make a great film. I look forward to the next in the series of the #TuscanTrilogy.
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the northeast of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
The glamour of Hollywood. The magic of the Tuscan countryside. One big decision…
Beatrice Kingdom (Bee to her friends) wakes up in hospital in Tuscany. After an accident on a film set leaves her burned and scarred, she feels her whole life has been turned upside down.
Bee is offered the chance of recuperating in a stunning Tuscan villa in the company of a world-famous film star, the irascible Mimi Robertson. Here amid the vines and olive groves, Bee quickly finds there’s more to the place than meets the eye, not least a certain Luca(and Romeo the dog).
As she comes to terms with her injuries and her new life takes shape, Bee will have to travel a road of self-discovery… and make a huge decision.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Bee’s life will never be the same again. After a near-fatal accident on a film set in Siena, she takes the chance to recuperate and rediscover who she is. Her film star companion, is diva-like, and she’s never lived in the country, but she never been physically scarred before and she needs time to come to terms with the new her. A remote Tuscan villa is a perfect place for this.
The characters in this story are complex and authentic and the well-paced plot is full of romance, self-realisation, mystery and humour. Culture, cuisine and celebrity give the story its vivacity and Romeo, the Labrador is perfectly described, and so lovable. The Tuscan setting comes to life in this story and you can imagine the vineyards, hills and history that epitomises it.
A lovely story of food, glamour, history and love with a memorable Italian flavour and setting.
T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing. Twitter @TAWilliamsBooks
Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.
So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching
at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned
by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up
Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?
Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the
beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review
This story didn’t draw me in immediately, the tone was so negative. Since this author is known for her positivity, I decided to read on. After the first chapter, I realised the reader is in the main character’s head, and she is in a bad place. So don’t be put off, read on.
There is a lot to like in the remainder of the story, a stunning setting, which I love. Having visited the Lake Garda region in 2004, I can confirm that the author’s description really does capture the essence of this lovely region. The writers’ retreat is also interesting, interspersed with writing and publishing tips, this gives the story its authenticity.
Brie’s life is nothing like her public persona and she begins to wonder if romance exists beyond the passionate words she creates in her sexy novels. When she meets Arran, there is chemistry but also conflict. They are both emotionally raw and have seemingly incompatible personality traits.
I liked the realistic nature of their relationship, with two characters that get under your skin, until you really want them to have their happy ending.
An enjoyable romance, full of vivid imagery and believable characters, and for the most part is positive and heartwarming.
can think of is that Brianna Middleton. Wow, that lady knows how to write a sex
scene. Just thinking about the gorgeous guys she features in her books is
enough to get me in the mood to jump into someone’s arms!’ She laughs and for
one moment a look of horror passes over my face.
Oh, dear! Am I unwittingly killing the art of romantic love by concentrating on the intense passion and the hot sex? Isn’t that a modern-day disease, anyway? We want everything instantly and it seems that people forget that some things are worth waiting for. Wasn’t it more exciting when couples didn’t jump into bed before they’d had a chance to get to know each other? And then when they did get to that point it held more meaning. How many people wake up the next morning regretting the night before, I wonder?
we’re all looking for a hero.’ I smile up at her in the mirror, doing my best
to push aside my concerns.
me about it! I can’t remember the last time a guy held a door open for me. Or
picked up the tab for a meal out without expecting to go Dutch.’
glancing in the mirror and relieved to see that my face isn’t giving anything
excuses herself to go and mix up the colour for the first step in the
transformation. She returns wheeling a cart with two black bowls both
containing a creamy white mixture. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the colours
aren’t too loud.
you turn up the music, please?’ She addresses the receptionist who is manning
the desk. ‘I love this one.’
washes over me. It’s not a record I know but at least it curtails the
conversation. I’m not being moody but the less said the better.
my eyes for a moment to rest them, I’m horrified when a sudden jolt rouses me.
There’s a buzzer on the shelf in front of me and it’s jumping around. I can’t
believe I fell asleep.
returns, and I follow her over to the basin. I’d forgotten how good it feels to
be pampered and the head massage alone is a tonic. I didn’t realise I was quite
so stressed out and now I’m longing for that full body polish and massage Mel
and I have booked for later this morning.
After wrapping a towel around my head, Zena and I walk back to her styling station. She begins by twisting the majority of my hair up on top of my head, securing it with a clip. Scissors in hand, she turns her attention to the first layer at the back and begins cutting.
With my head tilted forward slightly, I look at the growing pile of debris on the floor. The colour looks okay but then it’s still wet and it’s hard to tell how it will look once dry. It’s been a long time since I wore my hair this short, that’s for sure. I glance across at Mel but she’s engrossed, listening to her iPod. Usually, I love thinking time, but my head is in such a mess that what I need now is a distraction. So instead I grab a magazine from the shelf in front of me and read about the latest red carpet event in Hollywood. I can identify with the sadness behind some of those fake smiles.
The cutting seems to go on forever and I lose interest. I decide it’s time to stop looking in the mirror and wait for the reveal. Eventually, the scissors disappear back into the neat little pouch strapped around Zena’s slender hips. She uses a generous squirt of mousse to scrunch up the longer hair at the front, with her hands, then the blow drying starts in earnest. My head is feeling curiously lighter and it’s a fight to avoid glancing in that mirror.
think we’re done.’ Zena takes a step backwards, sounding pleased with herself.
The girl from the reception desk walks by on her way to the coffee machine.
fleek, Zena. A hot new look there, Ms Middleton, it’s time for a new author
photo! I rang my mum and she just popped in with one of your books, so I
wondered if you’d sign it for me? I have them all! I couldn’t bear to miss one
of your hot, sexy heroes.’
I feel the heat rising up around my ears as my cheeks begin to burn; Zena’s jaw has dropped. Fortunately, Mel steps in, making a big fuss over my new hairdo and then whisks me off to the reception desk. I do my usual writerly scrawl just inside the front cover of the book lying on the counter while raising a smile and trying to look composed.
isn’t until we’re out through the doors and walking down the corridor to find
the nail technician that I feel I can finally breathe. I stop to catch my
reflection in a glass panel and swish my hair from side to side.
look gorgeous, Brie. On fleek, even!’
looks at me with a big smile on her face.
don’t feel like me. I look my age; I look like I’m ready to party.’
‘Well, after some new nails and a relaxing massage you will be. Tomorrow we hit the gym and I’ve booked us a session with a personal trainer. Tonight, we are dining in the spa’s acclaimed Nature’s Best restaurant. Nude food is the theme, as nature intended. They’ve stripped everything away and it’s all about the quality of the produce and keeping it simple.’
have to let me pay for this, Mel. It’s way too much. Just the fact that you’ve
organised all this is more than I deserve. I’ve been a very bad friend,
I lean in to give her a hug.’
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. TwitterFacebook
Do our secrets make us who we are? Santina is spending her final days at her home, Villa San Vito, in the beautiful Italian town of Positano. As she decides the fate of the magnificent eighteenth-century palazzo, she must confront the choices that led her here.
In 1949, hoping to escape poverty, young Santina becomes housekeeper to a distinguished British major and his creative, impulsive wife, Adeline.
When they move to Positano, Santina joins them, raising their daughter as Adeline’s mental health declines. With each passing year, Santina becomes more deeply entwined with the family, trying to navigate her complicated feelings for a man who is much more than an employer―while hiding secrets that could shatter the only home she knows . . .
‘The Secret Legacy’ is a saga of Santina’s life in the twentieth century against a vividly described Italian setting. Varied and detailed with plenty of rich imagery of Italy and its food coupled with historical detail from Santina’s early life there is a pleasing authenticity to this story. The forbidden romance is everything you could wish, and the characters develop believably. Perfect summer reading.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.