Book Review: One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

From the publishers via Netgalley, this is my first Moorcroft book. It’s a  slightly different take on the “romance in a sunny foreign land” trope, and thank god!

Sofia, a woman in her late 30s nurses her sick father, as she has done since she was a teen. The early chapters of the book have her discussing what happens after her father dies, and she makes various promises, including to be happy, and to travel to her father’s home town in Italy to place flowers on her grandparents graves – they had died in a car crash several years before, and Aldo hadn’t seen them for years.

Once Aldo dies she goes to Italy and gets a waitressing job at a local place. Her father’s brother lives nearby, but she doesn’t have an address, so she seeks help from one of the local church goers. Before anything come to fruition however, she has to step in when the owner’s son (Davide) picks on a naive young German waitress called Amy. Levi, a guest also steps in to support Amy and Sofia, resulting in the owner backing down from sacking her.

Levi and Sofia get on, even though there is the rule that staff are not allowed relationships with customers. Sofia feels protective, even motherly, towards Amy, even when she suspects that Levi has a vested interest in the much younger woman. That, plus the “no fraternising” rule means that she backs away from anything deeper. However, the two meet away from the bar, where a conversation along lines of “you’re old enough to be her father” results in admission that Levi is her father, but she doesn’t know. Puts both Levi and Sofia in difficult position.

It turns out that Amy has run away from home because she overheard an argument, and found out that the man she’s always called “dad” is not actually her biological father. She feels her mother lied to every one around her and refuses to see anyone else’s standpoint.   She was infact the result of a one night stand between her mother and Levi when he was  17 and she was on a hen weekend.

The first half of the book covers both Sofia trying to get to know her extended family, whilst trying to help Levi navigate the minefield of watching his daughter whilst not letting on who he is.

In the background Levi’s friend and business partner has met up with a woman called Octavia, a tech genius who is far too intense and seems to want to know far more than appropriate with regards to Levi, and is willing to use Wes to get it. Naturally Wes cant see that he’s being used and is in lust – until Octavia dumps him.

The second part of the story is when all characters return to the UK, with Amy having found out who Levi was and wants to confront his behaviour.

I felt the secondary characters could have been used better – the hotel owner was mercurial and temperamental, apparently purely as a plot device – I wasnt convinced at the “Sofia is the niece of the competition” excuse. The tertiary characters, you have to wonder about  – could the secondary characters been expanded, and used as mechanisms to move story along? I felt Octavia (for all her obsessive checking of Wes and Levi) disappeared a little too easily for a literal stalker.

So, a nice distraction, and perhaps I’m overthinking a fine summer Italian romance.

About this author

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has held the coveted #1 spot in the Amazon Kindle chart. She’s also a bestseller in Germany. She writes women’s contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes.
Sue has won the Best Romantic Read Award, been nominated for a RoNA and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’.
An army child, Sue was born in Germany then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a typesetter, but is pleased to have wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.

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