I’m so delighted today to be joining the blog tour for A Wedding in Tuscany by the wonderful Sandy Barker: it’s unusual for me not to have been there on day one, but today is publication day (yay!) and the perfect day to be sharing my review. This is the fifth and final book in the Holiday Romance series that I’ve so enjoyed, published as an ebook by One More Chapter, and available for kindle via Amazon in the UK, Australia, the US and Canada, and also for other platforms via Googleplay and iBooks. The paperback will follow on 18th August and can be pre-ordered via your favourite on-line or high street bookshop, including Waterstones and Foyles. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
Ok, I’ll admit it – Sandy Barker is one of my favourite authors, and she’s never yet produced a book that I haven’t thoroughly adored. I loved the standalones – first there was The Christmas Swap (you can read the review again here – this was the one that made me declare that no-one writes female friendship quite like her, and I’m so thrilled to see that it won’t be a standalone for very much longer…). And then came The Dating Game, one of my Books of the Year in 2021 and never a moment’s doubt about its inclusion (you’ll find my full review here).
But I’ve also absolutely loved the Holiday Romance series – I missed out on the first, One Summer in Santorini, but was immediately engaged with the fantastic That Night In Paris (also 99p for your kindle) with its sparkling humour, vivid settings and the most perfect romance (you’ll find my review again here). A Sunset in Sydney was wonderful too (review here), with such well-handled handled emotional content, and more superb settings. And A Sunrise over Bali? Every bit as perfect, and you can read my full review again here. I’m really sorry the series is ending, but I was so looking forward to spending time again with some of my favourite characters…
Love is in the air…
Sarah has everything she ever wished for; she lives with her gorgeous boyfriend and their cat in Sydney and life couldn’t be better. If only she wasn’t so anxious about turning the big 4 0.
Meanwhile Cat is happily loved-up with Jean-Luc, except she lives in London, and he lives in Paris. She loves their long-distance relationship so why is she worrying about their future.
But a surprise wedding proposal is about to change everything for these sisters. And with all their family and friends gathering at a vineyard in Tuscany to celebrate, love, laughter and mayhem are about to ensue.
Reunite with your favourite characters from The Holiday Romance series as they gather together for love, laughter and a party they’ll never forget. Perfect for fans of Jo Thomas and Mandy Baggot.
As this book is the series finale, I’ll admit I approached it with a bit of a personal wish list. I really wanted to spend more time in the company of sisters Sarah and Cat, feel the specialness of their relationship – on the same continent for once, rather than supporting each other over FaceTime. Well, the author certainly delivered on that one, and this book made me feel like a VIP guest at their joint special occasion – Cat’s wedding to the gorgeous Jean-Luc, and Sarah’s 40th birthday. Neither event is without its issues – Cat is swerving the difficult one of where their future home will be, and Sarah has a whole load of heavy baggage about her milestone birthday.
And I was looking forward to seeing both their gorgeous partners again – Jean-Luc and Josh – perhaps with some of that heat of attraction that made them (and me) rather sweaty under the collar when they first got together (and that didn’t disappoint either…!). And then there were the female friends – such a massive feature of the earlier books, perhaps one of my favourite things about them – and the promise, fully delivered, that they’d all be brought together for one last time. And there they all were – with some last minute surprises to make things complete. Do you know, I didn’t really take to Jaelee when I first met her, but got to know her better over her experiences in Bali – she’s certainly a bit of a star turn in this book with her dubious language skills and her unique approach to crisis handling.
And there were a few newer characters too, some of them rather more welcome guests than others, along with a lovely focus on the older generation with the introduction of the girls’ parents (“Sixty-four, not dead” – that became their mother’s catch-phrase, and I absolutely adored their father!). The other thing I’d hoped for was one of those magical locations the author captures so wonderfully – and as soon as the couples walked out on the balcony of their castle apartment at the Montespertoli vineyard, I knew this book would have everything I could possibly have asked for.
The story’s told through the alternating viewpoints of Cat and Sarah, really distinctive voices, their narratives laced with humour but also dipping at times into the realms of the more challenging problems facing them both. There are moments of real drama as both big days approach, the preparations detailed and simply fascinating (distinctly challenging at times too), and the emotional aspects so beautifully handled. There’s a perfect balance between the laugh-out-loud comedy set pieces – you’re going to particularly love the star turn at the hen party – and other moments that really touch your heart. When it was all over, and everyone was dispersing around the world once more, I found I was really tearful – but the ending (there’s the most wonderful “eight months later” postscript) is just about as perfect as it could possibly have been.
Could you read this book as a standalone? Yes, I think you probably could, there’s enough lightly dropped back story to establish the characters and their connections – but I think you might enjoy it even more if you’ve read at least one or two of the books that went before. But that wouldn’t be any real hardship, would it? This book really was the perfect conclusion to a series I’ve thoroughly enjoyed – one of my books of the year, and recommended very highly.
About the author
Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.
Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins.
The series continued in That Night in Paris, A Sunset in Sydney, and A Sunrise over Bali: A Wedding in Tuscany is the fifth and final book in the series. Her first standalone novel The Christmas Swap celebrated her favourite time of the year, and that was followed by The Dating Game, a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Reality TV.