December 2011, Series Romance
Har Rom #4282, $4.99, 185 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373177720
This book sounded trite: A recently dumped heroine lands a dream job in Rome and meets a gorgeous Italian Count. Fortunately, trite is the last thing it proved to be. While it started off light and pleasant, by the end I realize just how textured and deep the characters are, and how lovely the story is. This is a good one.
Sarah Gratton was dumped by her fiancée after he fell in love with another teacher at the school where they both taught. While the ex nobly took a job elsewhere, Sarah couldn’t live with the situation. She knew her ex was more popular at the school than she and couldn’t face teaching in the same place where they fell in love. Luckily, Sarah landed a job at an international school in Rome.
Before Sarah leaves for Rome, her great-grandfather reminds her of his experiences in Italy during World War II when he was rescued and hidden by a beautiful Italian woman. After the war he went back to his wife and son in England and never saw or heard from the woman again. He encourages Sarah to get over her fiancée by having a memorable fling in Italy.
Sarah doesn’t discard the notion of a fling, but also decides to learn more about her great-grandfather’s rescuer. On one of her first weekends in Rome Sarah heads out to the countryside where her great-grandfather was hidden. Instead of learning anything about the woman, Sarah runs into a gorgeous man. Unfortunately, the handsome stranger seems determined to kick her off his property.
Matteo di Serrone – an Italian count - doesn’t buy Sarah’s explanation that she’s just a tourist. His famous family has been hounded by paparazzi and he’s convinced Sarah is one of them. Even though Matteo doesn’t trust Sarah initially, they engage in some fun banter as Sarah “interviews” him for the position of her lover. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek on both their parts. Sarah isn’t the type to have a fling with a stranger and, while Matteo may have done so in the past, he’s changed. Burned by a woman who used him to gain access to his family, Matteo gave up his high profile, playboy life and now devotes himself to the family winery.
The author did a good job of slowly unfolding the layers of Sarah and Matteo; both are more than they appear on the surface. Matteo is a lot more than a sexy Count. He loves and protects his family and is devoted to agriculture research. Sarah, on the other hand, isn’t the selfless, bland, goody-two shoes that she first appears.
I enjoyed the author’s technique of beginning each chapter with an excerpt from Sarah’s blog. It helped show the changes she went through while in Rome, and also provided insights into her growing relationship with Matteo.
I’ve never been to Rome or the outlying countryside, but the author brought them alive for me. I felt as if I was there, and could smell and see the sights right along with Sarah.
I’ve read a quite a few of the author’s books. Some have been enjoyable while others were forgettable. As I closed the book on the last page I found myself crying a few happy tears. I loved this one and know I will read it again at some point in the future. It’s on my keeper shelf.
-- LinnieGayl Kimmel
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