It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for A Match Made in Venice by Leonie Mack, and sharing my review. Published by Boldwood Books on 9th November, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), as a paperback, and as an audiobook too. Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invitation and the support, and to publishers Boldwood for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
I first discovered Leonie Mack’s excellent writing when I read and enjoyed her debut novel, My Christmas Number One: it was refreshingly different, most definitely not about the usual traditional Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed the unusual settings, the music that ran through the story, the chemistry between the two main characters – and found it really uplifting and emotional (you can read my review again here). And I equally enjoyed her second book, Italy Ever After – far more than a romantic escape with an Italian Lakes backdrop, it entirely engaged my heart (you’ll find my review here). So we’re off to Venice this time (and isn’t that cover simply gorgeous?) – I was really looking forward to this one…
Escape to the breath-taking beauty of Venice – The City of Love.
When pragmatic, sensible and resolutely single Deirdre York (Didi to her friends) is sent to Venice for work she is determined not to be taken in by the romantic clichés. Winter in the floating city may be breathtakingly beautiful, but she’s here with a clear purpose and will not let the magic of Venice distract her.
Piero Zanetti is the epitome of the handsome yet tortured artist. Heart-broken by the end of his love affair with a glamorous opera singer, he has lost his ability to work, and his inspiration has drained away, along with his zest for life.
But Didi needs Piero working – she has been tasked with commissioning him to do a glass centrepiece for a luxury department store Christmas display – some how Didi has to cheer Piero up or at least find him a new muse…
As Didi and Piero slowly become friends, and as Venice starts to melt Didi’s heart and gently nudge Piero out of the blues, something special begins to happen. Can Venice – the City of Love – work a Christmas miracle and help Didi and Piero to find their happiness at last…
Leonie Mack is back with the most gloriously romantic escape, perfect for all fans of Mandy Baggot, Jo Thomas and Carole Matthews.
There’s little I enjoy more than a romantic escape, but this book really wasn’t what I was expecting – it was so much better than that. Didi is far from the usual idea of a romantic heroine, suited and booted and carrying her briefcase, immune from the romance of Venice at the approach of winter, intent on tracking down celebrated glass artist Piero Zanetti on the island of Murano with a commission to design a centrepiece for the Christmas window at the department store where she works. At first, the sparks really fly between them (and not from the glassblowing furnace – that hasn’t been used to create one of his works of art for some time) – he might be rather gorgeous, but he’s also a tad obnoxious, and it really looks as if she’ll be going home empty-handed. But he’s also in search of a muse, and he thinks he might just have unexpectedly found one in Didi – so she returns to Venice to stay a little longer at his expense, unsure of her role, and their friendship (and rather more) starts to grow.
I will admit that I found this book a bit of a struggle to engage with for the first few chapters – but all I can say is stick with it, because I found the romance that developed between the unlikely couple entirely wonderful and all-consuming. The setting helps, of course – it was magical to visit Venice without the hordes of tourists, to wander the alleys and gaze at the shop windows with Didi. I was surprised to see that the author wrote this one during lockdown, using the internet for her research – she brings it so vividly to life, all the small detail along with the romance and the seediness, and by the end I felt I’d been on an extended visit myself, shown around by the most expert of local guides.
And I most certainly warmed to the characters, who certainly have considerably more depth and personal issues than it at first appears. There’s a particularly strong focus on family – Didi’s relationship with her sister and her difficult mother, Piero’s with his father and the way its fracture has impacted him. As the friendship between them grows, we also see the repairing of some of the rifts – and I really enjoyed the additional depth that gave to the story. And then there’s the whole world of glassblowing – the community that Piero has become estranged from, the fascinating process of creating the art (we certainly get to feel the heat from that furnace).
Something I really loved about this book was the dialogue, particularly the crackle and fizz of the exchanges between Didi and Piero – despite being so buttoned-up at the start, she certainly gives as good as she gets, and I liked her more and more as the pages turned. And I really must mention the romance once more, because it absolutely blew me away – I really hadn’t expected to care so deeply for a tortured artist and a woman who declares she doesn’t have dreams, only achievable goals, and so very unlikely to bring him inspiration.
I entirely loved this book. Don’t read it expecting something too Christmassy – although it’s set at that time of year, the initial trip driven by the need for a Christmas window display, and features a (rather difficult) Christmas dinner. It’s more of a winter read, but with plenty to warm the cockles of your heart – although I honestly think I’d have enjoyed it every bit as much if I’d read it in the middle of summer. I just love Leonie Mack’s writing – and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Recommended really highly – this was the loveliest read.
About the author
Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great international locations. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!