Samantha Tonge returns to the blog today with a lovely story about leaving everything behind to find a new beginning in
One Summer in Rome
Mary has grown up the outsider, moving from home to home in foster care, never feeling enough and always afraid to speak her own mind lest the cycle start again. A particularly horrid job had her, on an impulse, grabbing brochures for Italy, and the opportunity to work in a small family-owned restaurant in Rome, housing provided was too good to pass up. She’d been stalling in the last moments, however, when her only friend, and mother figure, pushed her on the plane – demanding she find a new way of being.
Arriving at La Dolce Vita pizzeria, the Rossi’s are a welcoming bunch – if you ignore their head pizza maker Dante and a snarky waiter Rocco. Her rusty Italian, combined with a ‘rarely seen and never heard’ personality make her transition even more difficult, as she absorbs slights, snark and even an on-again-off-again friendly relationship with Dante. Plenty of secrets and things not spoken of are putting a damper of sorts on the little family, a year out from losing their mother, and two years out from ‘that day’ that left Dante, a former police officer, without sight.
Throughout it all, Mary is constantly talking herself through the next moment, the next challenge, never without a pocket full of healing crystals – the one thing (we come to learn) that she can count on to never leave her. Slowly, she starts to feel a part of the family, taking the risk to present ideas for more business and a way to stay on the Lombardi List – one frequently referred to by tourists choosing their next taste experience.
Most striking in this story is the character development and isues: from Mary’s seeming constant search for approval and a place to fit in, to Rocco’s jealousy all driven by protecting the family, and most of all the deep-seated guilt that Dante uses as a shield to keep everyone at arm’s length. And, this being a story completely of the day, there are terrorist scares a bit of unwarranted vitriol from a competing restaurant for the list spot, and revelations galore. Mary finds a new confidence in the welcome she’s received from most of the Rossi’s, and her determination to help them retain their place, as well as her realization that ‘disney perfect’ families and people don’t exist, comes as a great surprise. Tonge allowed readers to feel that Mary, as flawed as she was, had reasons for her submissiveness and fear of confrontation, and it was lovely to see her growth in taking a stand, particularly when it came to Dante loosening his grip on all of the guilt he held, from his partner’s and mothers deaths to his almost militant need for independence, and the feeling that he would never be ‘enough man’ to protect and care for another woman because of his blindness. What I expected to be a light and fun read wasn’t – the hidden depths, the rhyme and meter of conversations that mimicked (some better than others) the flow of Italian conversation, and the small insets of childlike sense from little Lucia all brought this story heart and a lovely happy ending.
Title: One Summer in Rome
Author: Samantha Tonge
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Setting: Italy
Published by: HQ Digital
Published on: 9 May, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Google
To Rome…with love?
Mary Smith is turning her very ordinary life upside-down! She’s bought herself a one-way ticket to Rome and is ready for a summer she’ll never forget.
Men might be off the cards for waitress Mary, but within hours of arriving at the utterly charming family-run La Dolce Vita pizzeria, she’s already fallen in love with the bustling capital!
Only Dante Rossi, the mysterious (and drop-dead gorgeous) chef seems displeased with her arrival. And in the heat of the kitchen, it doesn’t take long for long-buried secrets to surface and sparks to fly…
A deliciously heartwarming romance to have you dreaming of summer. Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Caroline Roberts.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: