Review by Gabrielle

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He took a deep breath and pulled her closer, pressing her head more firmly into his shoulder. His palm settled on her cheek, his fingers splayed in her hair and down to her neck. He didn’t know what to say, but his lips were muttering little phrases in a dialect from the depths of his memory.”

Set against a stunning backdrop of Venice and Murano, this slow burn romance is a fun escape.

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 – somehow 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…

Admittedly it took me a while to warm up to the characters in this book. They are both so stubborn! But as you read along you learn more of their backstories and get to know them better, the story deepens along with their likability. I even ended up really liking the fact I didn’t love them right off the bat!

Didi is smart, successful and complicated. Growing up with an irresponsible mom meant she always had to be the responsible one. She is goal oriented and doesn’t tolerate deviations from her plans. She doesn’t have time for folly and romance. In fact, she wouldn’t know what to do with romance if it slapped her in the face! Piero meanwhile, is the ultimate tortured artist type. Coming out of a “big crazy love” he can’t work and his life is a mess. He might sound like a stereotype, and he is a little, but Mack does a great job of crafting a character full of layers that moves Piero beyond the stereotype. As each of them learned to love themselves, I realized I too was learning to love their characters as a reader. 

The romance here is the slowest of slow burns. When you have two adults this intense, they need to do some healing before they can move forward. Although it was at times excruciating, in the end you will find a satisfying ending that makes it all worthwhile. And it’s a refreshing storyline for the reader that prefers deeper connections leading to romance over a fireworks and insta love style.

The scenery in this book is off the charts fabulous. Mack’s descriptions of Venice and Murano make you feel like you are really there, wandering the narrow streets, tromping over ancient bridges, navigating the galleries, museums and sights. It really is like a trip in a book. I couldn’t get enough of the scenery and I devoured every word.

Overall this book was not what I was expecting and I’m glad for it. If you need an escape to a magical city or want to read something outside the usual tropes, give this one a try.

Thanks to Boldwood Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.