On a whim, a restoration artist marries a chef and moves to Italy, where she uncovers hidden artwork and family secrets.
Emily Price is restoring a fire-damaged house in Atlanta when she meets the handsome Vassallo brothers, Joseph and Ben, who are working to revitalize their aunt and uncle’s Italian restaurant. Although she’s tempted to say yes when Joseph offers her a better restoration gig, she can’t say no when Ben offers his hand in marriage. At first her relationship with Ben is bland in its perfection, but when she joins him at his parents’ restaurant in Italy, she’s caught in the middle of a dispute between Ben’s aging father and his disapproving mother. The constant tension does wonders for her personal art projects, which never earned her as much recognition as her restoration work. Even her thoughts are more painterly, which Reay captures in a lush yet modern style: “A blush on me was more of a blotchy oil-mixed-with-water affair, a discordant clash of color. I envied the whole cream-and-roses look,” Emily says of her new sister-in-law. Reay’s signature references to literary classics, in this case, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, beautifully match the characters’ desires to break free from expectations and discover themselves in new surroundings, and her depiction of Rome is breathtaking. But there are so many broken things for Emily to fix—two restaurants, a mural in a church, multiple family feuds—that her eyes can’t rest on any one problem for too long.
Pretty writing and a dreamy setting bring focus to an otherwise hazy plot.