It’s a pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for We’ll Always Have Venice by Leonie Mack, and to share my publication day review. Published today (28th April) by Boldwood Books, 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).
Leonie Mack’s debut novel, My Christmas Number One, was just wonderful – Christmassy in a very different way, perfect chemistry between the two main characters, uplifting and emotional (you can read my review again here). And I enjoyed her second book, Italy Ever After, every bit as much (you’ll find my review here). And then there was A Match Made in Venice, with its beautifully drawn setting and a romance that was everything I could have possibly wanted it to be (you’ll find my review of that one here). Her books have now become “must reads” for me – and I’m so delighted that this one’s taking us to Venice again…
Who can resist the romance of Venice…
When Norah arrives in Venice for a ten-week internship she is surprised to discover that her guide for her work trips around the lagoon is the undeniably gorgeous and kind Gianluca. She can’t help thinking he might be too good to be true, with his endless fascinating local stories, and his infectious laugh.
Norah is still bitter after an accident left her with a serious injury and also meant the end of her long-term relationship. And besides, she’s serious about her career and that means leaving Venice at the end of the summer.
Gianluca has had a summer fling before that led to heartache for him and he won’t do it again. He enjoys the long hours out on the lagoon with Norah, but after a storm strands them on a picture-perfect island for a night, they agree they should just be good friends for the summer.
But life doesn’t always go to plan, and when it’s time for Norah to go, they have to decide whether what they have between them is really just a friendship, and not something more…
One thing I always love about Leonie Mack’s books is the special chemistry she creates between her characters. Norah’s definitely not looking for romance – she’s recently recovered from a particularly serious injury, a long-term relationship has just ended rather painfully, and her stay in Venice is a work trip, an internship to further her career as a marine biologist. Her boss (and landlady) Manu arranges for oarmaker Gianluca to ferry her around the lakes and lagoons collecting her samples of algae – although he’s quiet and a bit sullen at first, there’s a clear attraction between them, and their exchanges start to sparkle and fizz. They both have their reasons for not allowing anything more to develop – although they’re severely tested when stranded out on the lagoon in a thunderstorm – and agree that they’ll never be more than the best of friends. But as Norah’s stay in the city of lovers draws to a close, as they always knew it would, there might just be rather more than close friendship between them… but might it be too late?
I loved the characters in this book. Gianluca (Lulu to his friends… goodness, he’s gorgeous!) has a nicely complex family-related back story, and a previous relationship sets up another thread of light conflict and misunderstanding. And Norah has family complications too – if you read A Match Made in Venice (and it’s really not essential) you’ll remember her mother Saffron, and she’s still making demands and creating havoc. And it was a delight to have a cameo appearance from Didi and Piero too, still every bit as loved up, along with some of the larger than life family members I’d met before – a particular treat for me, but nothing to worry about if this is the first time you’ve been to Venice with the author. But the newly introduced characters are excellent too, with great characterisation – Manu with her secrets, and you’re going to just love Gianluca’s feisty grandmother.
And as well as the romance and all the family complications, there’s the wonderfully drawn setting. Is there any better backdrop for a developing romance than Venice? The author’s descriptions are just wonderful, bringing it vividly to life, making you feel you’ve been on an extended visit – the most perfect armchair travel experience – and that’s equally applicable to the book’s other rather unexpected (but quite perfectly chosen) primary location.
But the romance – I really loved every moment, as the two main characters I’d really taken to my heart fought that magnetic pull between them when you really, really wanted them to have their happy ending. The writing is just excellent – I loved the exchanges between them, the playfulness and jokey banter, but with so much emotion simmering just under the surface. It was a relationship I really believed in, and far more than the holiday romance you might just be expecting.
This was one of those perfect summer reads, but with a depth and emotion that was particularly satisfying – most definitely one I’d recommend to others.
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!