Falling in Florence by Joy Skye
Sofia Marino loves her large Italian family and their restaurant, but wants to get her own job. Her interview with Peter at Sublime Retreats has an interesting beginning, but she soon lands the job as his P.A. which means helping to track down select apartments in various cities. Adam is a young man who has been traumatized by the lost of his mother, and he is close to his retired police officer father. He always wants to be in control, so meeting his boss’ new P.A. is disturbing on several levels, not least because there seems to be a connection between them. Sofia’s family is complicated, but they broadly welcome her bid for independence. Unfortunately, Adam’s father Jack has a theory about the Marino family and an alleged involvement with a crime years before. When an accident means that Sofia must accompany Adam on a working trip to Florence, their relationship is tested in many ways despite the beauty of the city.
This is the second book which I have read which is loosely based on the idea of Sublime Retreats, but both novels are very much standalone. It is a lovely concept for novels, as describing apartments for the wealthy gives a good reason for describing some immense and impressive settings. The beauty of Florence is well described in this book, especially restaurants with balconies and terraces that afford good views of the scenery. The characters of Sophia and her family, featuring her rather bulky brothers and traditional parents are well drawn, especially when contrasted with the rather austere Adam and his father’s quiet relationship. The mix of character and setting is a good one in this novel, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review it.
Sophia is described as a small young woman, with a prodigious appetite for food. Her family is very important to her, and her track record for romantic relationships has been limited by the understandable fear that no one would come up to her brothers’ standards. When she travels to Florence her genuine charm and her knowledge of the language and culture means that she copes so much better than Adam. He has high hopes for the trip, to make his mark within the business, but having denied himself enjoyable food and drink for so long he finds it difficult to allow himself to enjoy the amazing food and relax into the experience. Sofia’s spontaneity is difficult for him to cope with on many levels, and the trip seems to be out of his control as well as his feelings.
This is an entertaining and engaging book which enjoyed reading on many levels. It has a real sense of place even for those of us who are not so familiar with the city of Florence, and it luxuriates in the descriptions of the sights and landmarks. The descriptions of the food alone makes it a memorable read! The character of Sofia is lovely, as she encompasses some clumsiness with genuine charm and her ability to influence people at first meeting as well as family links. I recommend this book as a satisfying read for its characters, sense of place and genuine interest in how people react to opportunities.