16 February 2015

eBook Review: What Happens in Tuscany by T. A. Williams

"Katie never imagined her life was perfect. But when she finds herself on a rainy street, soaked to the bone and with only a cheating boyfriend and a dead-end job keeping her in town, she knows something has to change. Which is what leads her to Iddlescombe Manor, to be companion to Lady Victoria Chalker-Pyne – the only 25 year old Katie’s ever met who hasn’t heard of Twitter, thinks camisoles are de rigueur, and desperately needs an education in the 21st century!

…to the Tuscan sun!

But it wouldn’t be an education without a summer holiday – and where better than Tuscany? Decamping to Victoria’s family villa, it’s soon clear that the valley really does have it all: sun, sea…and some seriously gorgeous neighbours. The only question is: when the weather’s this hot, the wine is this smooth and the local men are this irresistible…will Katie ever want to make the journey home?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy What Happens in Tuscany as an eBook now.

I first came across T. A. Williams last year when I was invited to be part of the blog tour for his last book When Alice Met Danny. I enjoyed that book but had a few issues with the writing and the dialogue. However, I was keen to read T. A.'s next book, which came out earlier this month called What Happens in Tuscany. I haven't read many books set in Tuscany before, so I was looking forward to having my eyes opened and to escape to a sunny climate for just a while! This book was a massive improvement on his last book, I thoroughly enjoyed this one from start to finish, and really didn't want the story to end!

Katie is at a loose end when she applies for a rather unusual job - to go and work at a stately home helping a young aristocrat come to terms with the modern world, and open her eyes up for her new life. Her own relationship is in the gutter, she's fed up with her job and she desperately needs a change, and this job sounds like just the ticket. Lady Victoria Chalker-Pyne has spent her 25 years on this planet locked up at Iddlescombe Hall thanks to her over-protective father. Now he has died, she is ready to start finally living, and needs Katie's help to navigate the scary modern world - phones, TV's, Twitter, Facebook and modern day language! The pair strike up an unlikely friendship, and begin changing Victoria's life, and set off on a summer holiday to Victoria's family villa in Tuscany. Life for both ladies is about to get a whole lot more exciting...

Something about this book just worked for me right from the beginning. I really liked the idea of the story, of someone having their eyes opened to the modern world that we live in and take for granted, so that was very eye-opening as a reader too! You can't help but feel incredibly sorry for Victoria having lived such a sheltered life, through no fault of her own, and I really detested her father for what he has done to her. Yes, he did it for what he felt were the right reasons, but ultimately no-one has the right to hold another person captive which is essentially what Victoria's father was doing. However, Victoria was so sweet, loving her new life with Katie, and you can't help but love seeing her open as a person as she explores her new world.

Katie really opened up once the book got going too, and helping Victoria open her eyes was also good for Katie too, showing her some new opportunities that she badly needed in her life too. She is really kind and patient with Victoria, and the friendship between the pair is fun to read as it progresses. There are several male characters in the book, and although I got them muddled a little bit in my head, I soon straightened it out and was able to easily follow who was who. There's olive tree man Paul Taylor,  Victoria's old school chum Tom (who lives near her home in England), Martin, Katie's friend from the UK and Marco, an exuberant Italian who left a big smile on my face. But my favourite had to be Dante the labrador, what a gorgeous dog! You can see why Katie loved going on long walks through the Tuscan hills with him by her side.

I really loved the descriptions in the book of Tuscany. I have never been to this part of Italy myself, but T. A. Williams writes it so vividly that you can picture it in your mind as you are reading! Victoria's villa was sensational, I could imagine every nook and cranny, but also I could imagine the town, where Katie goes exploring, the other villas they visit, the hills, the olive trees, everything was evocative of Tuscany, it was just wonderful to read. T. A. Williams has certainly improved his dialogue writing for this book too - it flowed much more realistically and felt like I was reading a conversation, as opposed to the stilted dialogue I had encountered before. Yes, there are a few different romantic interests going on in the book, and it was fun trying to guess who the characters would end up with by the end, if anyone! The story was incredibly fun to read, and it was a truly escapist tale, I felt like I could be in the gorgeous kitchen of Victoria's Tuscan villa eating bread with them! I'd highly recommend this book, I loved it and I'm looking forward to more from T.A. Williams!

Thanks to Carina UK for the Netgalley review copy.

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