Escape to Tuscany this summer with Karen Aldous’s brilliantly uplifting read. Perfect for fans of Erica James and Cathy Kelly.
A summer she’ll never forget…
When Olivia Montague’s grandmother passes away, she decides it’s finally time to make some changes in her own life. So she breaks up with her ‘going nowhere’ boyfriend and embarks on a journey to her Nonna’s home in Tuscany.
Until now, Olivia has always believed that she’s incapable of love, after being abandoned by her parents as a baby. But with each day spent at the gorgeous villa nestled in the rolling Italian hills, she feels her heart begin to flutter…
And when handsome antiques dealer Hugh St. James arrives on the scene, she realises things might be about to change forever!
It always sounds just a little rude to say “a great read for the holidays”, but in this instance I mean it only as a compliment: I read this book in an afternoon on the terrace of my Madeira apartment, and it was just the perfect choice. I also read it when my mind was full of issues and worries, but the style, content and gorgeous descriptions swept me away to the hills of Tuscany and the twists and turns of Olivia’s relationships, as she finds herself and makes her choices.
The reading is easy – Karen Aldous has a light, free-flowing style, with natural dialogue and a deft touch with background and setting. As Olivia unravels her Nonna’s affairs and decides what she should do with the home and business, she jumps rather recklessly into one relationship (mmm, I wasn’t keen on him to be honest…) only to find another option waiting in the wings. The family complications added a little depth and intrigue: the story overall was light enough to pick up and put down, but sufficiently involved to keep you reading to discover the outcome. I haven’t read anything by this author before, and I’ll look forward to trying her books again. A lovely uplifting story all about finding yourself and finding love, and a really enjoyable read.
From his old green Barbour sleeve appeared a hand. ‘Hugh St. James.’
Feeling the strong grip of his hand, her eyes remained fixed on his. Like buses, she told herself. Her insides babbled before what she imagined was a thick steel coil suddenly unleashing inside her, sending blood pulsing to every nerve. She stood rooted to the spot barely able to believe she could be struck in the heart twice in as many days. A loud bark close by stole her attention, bringing her out of the trance.
Peering at the car momentarily before blinking back at him, she said, ‘Dog,’ under her breath.
‘Yes, that is a dog,’ his voice mocked.
‘Bring the dog in.’ Her voice monotone, still under his spell. ‘You can’t leave him in the car.’ She watched as he pulled his head back as if surprised by the command, and a dimple appeared on one of his cheeks as his eyes widened.
‘He’s fine. The car is ventilated; the window’s open – or he could lie out here in the shade.’
‘No, really, he’s very welcome, Mr James, sorry, St. James.’
‘Hugh. Please, call me Hugh.’
Blinking hard again to gather her senses, she urged him, ‘Hugh, bring him in.’
As he scrunched across the gravel, Hugh removed his coat before tossing it in through the rear door of the 4×4.
‘Come, Boris.’ The sprightly bundle leaped out, but then braked at his master’s soft command. Tongue out and tail wagging, he strode elegantly at his master’s knee, his mane moving swiftly in rhythm, reminding Olivia of an Arab thoroughbred.
‘Oh, he’s so beautiful. Was that Boris you called him?’ Olivia said, immediately bending to greet him.
‘Yes, that’s right.’
Stroking his soft head, and then cupping his chin, she instantly warmed to him. ‘Hello, Boris. You are a handsome boy aren’t you. Come on in.’
Yes, he has it all.’
Like his owner, Olivia immediately thought, as she stepped back and let him in, feeling unnerved by such a gut-wrenching and overwhelming presence.
‘Perhaps you’d like to wait in the sitting room. Signor Ricci will be down soon I believe. Would you like a coffee?’
As he gazed around the walls and ceiling, his focus rested on her briefly. ‘That’s very kind of you, yes please.’ He tentatively sauntered in towards the sitting room. ‘Thanks.’
‘Yes, through there, Boris too. Would Boris like some water?’
‘He has just had some, but thanks.’
‘Well, help yourself to a seat or a look around. I’ll get the coffee.’
Placing the coffee on the tray, Olivia couldn’t decide whether she should pour it out beforehand; her limbs trembled so much she couldn’t trust herself. What on earth was going on? Two gorgeous men suddenly entering her life?
Walking with the tray into the sitting room, she saw Hugh squatting by her grandmother’s bridal chest whilst Boris had settled, lying down on the hearth rug. She placed the tray on the stand and began pouring two fresh cups of coffee, managing to keep her hand steady. Glancing over, she watched Hugh. He rested one hand on the top of the chest whilst running the fingers of his other over the intricate carving along the front.
‘It’s an impressive piece. Nineteenth century?’ he asked.
‘I’m not sure of its age exactly. It was my nonna’s. She died recently.’
Hugh raised an eyebrow as he sucked in his breath. ‘Oh, I’m sorry. It was possibly her mother’s then, grandmother’s even. It’s beautiful, a little damage here and there, but …’
‘I know. I’m thinking of having it restored. It’s one of my favourites, which I’d like to keep.’ She pursed her lips. ‘You seem quite knowledgeable.’
He stood back and folded his arms, sliding back sleeves of what looked like a cashmere sweater. ‘I’m in antiques. I’m a dealer. That’s why I’m seeking a base in Tuscany.’
With thanks to the author and Jenny at Neverland Tours, I’m pleased to be able to offer a giveaway (UK only). The first prize is a £10 Amazon voucher, an eCopy of Under a Tuscan Sky and a signed notebook: second and third prizes are an eCopy of the book and a signed notebook. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
About Karen Aldous
Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine! Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and the USA would be her favourites. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in ‘Karen’s World’. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives – but struggle to control them! And, of course there’s always a gorgeous hunk or two!