It’s always such a pleasure to join the publication day push for a new book from T.A. Williams – without fail, they provide the perfect escape from real life and all its worries. Second Chances in Chianti is the second standalone book in the Escape to Tuscany series, published today by Canelo Escape, now available for kindle and on all other major ebook platforms. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
I’ve become such a fan of Trevor’s books – Dreaming of Verona (you’ll find my review here) saw me through a hospital stay and whisked me away to Italy for the first time (it took me far too long to discover his writing…), Dreaming of Italy (review here) provided the perfect distraction when the pandemic first struck, and Under a Siena Sun (review here) was just what I needed to help me through a difficult summer. This time, I’m pleased to report that my reading hasn’t been accompanied by disaster – but with a little time left yet until it’s possible to travel to the sunshine, I was looking forward to this one as much as ever…
Alice thought her future was set in stone, until her past came knocking…
Alice Butler starred in a successful US sitcom until tensions in the cast and crew caused the show to be cancelled. Now, five years later and working towards her dream job in art history, she’s called back for a revival of the show. It can only end in disaster, surely?
Flown to a villa in Chianti to meet with the rest of the cast, Alice must decide where her future lies – with her boyfriend, David, who laps up the Hollywood company, or with the mysterious Matt, who shies away from public attention?
Something I’ve grown to love about the author’s books is that you know exactly what you’re going to get – lots of warmth and sunshine, a well drawn Italian setting you immediately add to your “when I can travel again” list, food and drink to make your mouth water, a touch of history, characters who win your heart, believable romance accompanied by a bit of a dilemma, and the happy ending you have absolute confidence will be there waiting for you (along with a loveable labrador, of course!). This has rather been the year to read books that provide the escape we’re all in such dire need of, and there are very few authors who do it better than this.
There’s a nice bit of glitz and glamour about this one too. After a taste of stardom and Hollywood as part of the cast on a popular US sitcom, Alice has decided to leave it behind to pursue a career as an art historian – until she’s invited to join the cast at a villa in Chianti to discuss the possibility of a follow-up series. Although she’s fairly convinced her decision to change direction is the right one, the trip offers the opportunity to meet up again with friends (although there are others she’d rather avoid) – and following through with a holiday might give her the opportunity to decide whether her relationship with David is the one she really wants.
And on the romantic front, it turns out that she’s rather spoiled for choice. Rich, her former partner both on screen and off, hopes there might be a possibility of their relationship having a second chance: and then there’s mysterious Matt, from the tower on the hillside, who gets her heart (and mine) beating a little faster.
The story isn’t a particularly complicated one, centring on Alice’s decisions – and she’s very likeable indeed, struggling to establish her own personality when constantly confused with the flirty and flighty character she played in the sitcom. And she’s able to be herself with Matt – he knows nothing about her past – although it turns out that he does have a few intriguing secrets of his own.
This is a book you read with a constant smile on your face – although there’s certainly plenty of drama, a few little skirmishes and people behaving badly. The whole cast is excellent – great characters, strong friendships, real people behind the Hollywood veneer. The setting is beautifully drawn (as the author’s settings always are), and I enjoyed running with Alice on the tracks through the vineyards, exploring the surrounding towns and villages, with the occasional outing to Florence (that has to be my favourite Italian city).
I particularly enjoyed the historical theme – nicely done, well chosen, the perfect touch – and the tentative progression of Alice’s friendship with Matt. And as for Guinness the labrador – he’s an absolute joy, often turning my smile into a full-bodied laugh, brimming over with enthusiasm and a total disregard for the need for personal space.
This book was everything I wanted and needed it to be, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. If you’ve read any of the author’s other books, you’ll already know that you’ll love it too – and if you haven’t, it really wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
About the author
I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.
The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.