November 2015, Vanguard Press, 344 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: lots of laughs, some major peril and tragic moments, a few adult situations
Summary from Pegasus Press
Sophie gave up a high flying career to find her dream life but has ended up stuck in a dead end job that was only supposed to be temporary. She's also stuck with a nice but boring boyfriend, her parents' constant disappointment, and a life that's going nowhere. When her boss offers her the chance to have that life permanently, she panics and flees to Italy to stay with her friend, Jen, in a village on the outskirts of Florence.
Here in Italy the skies are blue, the sun is shining and Sophie falls in love with a beautiful old Manor house in the village. And what's more, there's a mysterious, handsome man with dark eyes, olive skin and dark blond hair who seems to have taken an instant dislike to her... Why? And will she ever be able to leave all of this behind?
This hopeful read ticks all the right boxes for me. It focuses on friendship, family, food, starting a venture from scratch, living abroad with lots of mishaps and much needed successes. I can never get enough of stories where characters create a shop, cafe, or hotel because it takes so much guts to do that, to take the leap into the unknown and keep going especially when times are tough.
Life gets very tough for Sophie, but with Jen by her side she survives and dare I say thrive in her new life. Jen helps come up with ideas to help Sophie, as well as provide light relief when Sophie is stressed. Getting to know (& annoy) the locals is only part of the story, albeit it an interesting one which made me a bit teary at times.
Sophie's family are fairly supportive, and her boyfriend is annoying. He doesn't get the message and hopes hard that she doesn't mean for them to break up. She does, and he eventually gets the message. I want to reread this already, there's so much passion in what Sophie does and how it all comes together at the end made me grin a lot.