Summary: Eliana—born Ellen—was a small town girl who fell in love with a handsome and romantic Italian, and moved with him to Italy to take care of his family’s estate and vineyard. To her friends back home, she’s living a fairy tale life…but reality is far from so picturesque. Her husband, Maurizio, is now cold and distant, always on the road and cheating on her while expecting her to remain at home, being a good Italian wife and mother to their son Alessio. Alessio suffers from severe asthma, making travel with him impossible. Although Eliana dreams of fleeing the country and returning home, she fears that the stress could put Alessio’s life in danger. So she spends her days at home painting, and wondering if this is the fate she must endure for the rest of her life.
One day, a mysterious American, Ross Story, comes to stay in the rental apartment at Eliana and Maurizio’s estate in the Tuscan wine country. Ross and Eliana experience an immediate attraction to each other, but Eliana is caught between protecting and keeping her son versus going after her heart and finding true love again.
My review: Wow. This book was bad in a very frustrating way, because it could have been such a good story based on the premise. It’s one that’s near to me personally which is why I picked up the book to read in the first place; my mother met my father while traveling in Italy after college, got married, had me, and then found herself feeling trapped and wanting to flee back home to the states. I literally was abducted back to America as an infant in a very messy situation, so when Eliana’s husband Maurizio makes threats that he would never let her have their son in a divorce, that the Italian courts would not allow it as well, I got chills because I knew this was how things really could be.
Yet from that point forward, the author flounders. The writing is awkward and amateurish, with shifting points of view here and there (I guess Evans doesn’t trust his ability to communicate emotions in characters’ actions and words), lengthy passages of telling instead of showing, stereotypical supporting characters and incredibly convenient coincidences to move the plot along. I nearly gave up on the book early on when Ross secures a job as a tour guide at the Uffizi without any experience or credentials, without going through the necessary procedures —he just walks in one day, reads off some memorized facts about a painting, and suddenly has a job there. Knowing what I know about the Uffizi, I highly doubt anything like that could ever realistically happen today.
The religious undercurrents in the book are confusing as well. Robert Paul Evans is an author of LDS fiction, and does have Eliana coming from a small town in Utah, yet she is supposedly a “devout Catholic”. Devout and yet Evans shows little understanding of Catholicism, and brushes aside her not going to church now that she’s in Italy because of Alessio’s asthma and his reaction to the incense burned in the churches. Um, she can’t go to church service or confession when her sister-in-law or the nanny is watching her son? Why not have Eliana be of a Mormon background instead, and have to deal with the religious culture clash of living in a traditionally Catholic country, as well as going against her faith to marry a Catholic instead of someone else within the LDS church? That would have been more interesting and plausible to me. (Interestingly enough, there was some controversy about “The Last Promise” within the LDS publishing world, because some felt the book encouraged adultery.)
The only recommendable aspects of this book are that the author does have a good sense for many aspects of Italian life, culture and traditions. The small moments where they come across are why I kept reading through to the end. But unfortunately none of these small aspects are enough reason for me to give this book a positive review or recommend it to others.
My rating: * (1 out of 5 stars)
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sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.