Standalone in a series – second chance romance
Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
“What are you looking at?” I asked, feeling to the blood fly to my cheeks.
What a wonderful story of second chance love, friendships and self-discovery. Swoony, passionate and light on drama, this is the book to lose yourself in if you’re looking for a sweet romantic escape. And we do mean an escape, because we feel as though we experienced a day or so in Rome without having to leave our lounge room, such was the vividly beautiful atmospheric telling of this story!
“It wasn’t love or lust, but something we both recognized as a possibility of something.”
Avery Bardot was only twenty one with stars in her eyes, a zest for life and wanderlust in her blood when she travelled to Barcelona for work. It was there she met Marcello Bianchi, a man she loved but left behind when she returned to Boston. Real life got in the way; hopes, dreams and love withered. Nine years later, she comes face to face with the man who evoked such passion in her.
“You didn’t end it. An ending has a finale. Come si dice, a resolution. You disappeared.”
After catching her husband banging his secretary Avery makes the decision to visit her friend Daisy, an architect currently living in Rome. Avery needs time for herself and to find the old Avery…what better place than Rome…what better place indeed and as fate would have it, Avery is reacquainted with Marcello, the man she never stopped thinking about and who always held a place in her heart.
‘We knew from the beginning that we were on borrowed time, but for those four months I was the real me. He let me fly.’
Whilst we loved the second chance romance aspect of this story, this story became more than a romance as we journeyed with Avery on her quest to find herself, re-establish her friendship with Daisy and become immersed in the vividly beautiful detail of their surroundings. All this captured our imagination. It was as though Rome almost became a character in the story, feeling present with Daisy and Avery, sitting in a restaurant at Campo de Fiori enjoying one of those wickedly decadent cornetto alla crema’s and cappuccino, savouring a gelato or a glass of wine whilst witnessing the sights, soaking in the energy and falling as deeply in love with Rome as Avery did.
‘There wasn’t a textbook available that could put into words what this city looked like to virgin eyes.’
This is a collaboration that worked very well. Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci exquisitely captured the surroundings of Rome, awakening all our senses to the beauty, history, art and atmosphere as though we were there. Not only that, we felt the authors contagious effervescent and gregarious personalities shine through in Daisy and Avery. Daisy was a hoot! Every girl should have a Daisy in their lives!
So kick back and prepare to have your heart touched, your funny bone tickled and your wanderlust fuelled as these ladies deliver a sweet and entertaining romance, this quote summing it up for us.
‘I thought about second chances. I guess looking in it’d seem that the second chance here was clearly a second chance at love, with Marcello. But maybe it was getting a second chance at life, with myself, for myself, doing something that I loved.’
It should be against the law for someone who looked like Marcello to be allowed to run free in a city as sexually charged as Rome. He was so very tall, towering in the small entryway. His body filled my entire vision: long, lean lines; sharp, see-everything eyes that were only beginning to show the tiniest hint of time; sinful-looking lips carved into an even line.
That was the first word he’d spoken directly to me in nine years.
“Marcello,” I replied, and the fist around my heart squeezed a little tighter.
Our eyes locked and a thousand apologies were on my lips. Yet none of them came out. “You look well.”
He huffed and shook his head a little. Taking a step back onto the porch, he said, “I know a place we can talk”—he glanced to Daisy—“privately.”
I nodded, girding myself for, well I didn’t know for what. Marcello was passion personified and the conversation was likely going to be fueled by hurt and anger.
“There is such a big part of me that wants to tag along on this, but I’ll just stay home and organize my sock drawer. Avery, you’ve got my address written down somewhere, right?”
“Address?” I asked, my voice sounding dreamy and stupid even to my own ears. Shaking my head to clear it, I looked away from the Roman in the shrinking hallway and focused my attention on Daisy. “Yes, I have your address. I’ll be fine.”
“If you get lost, just find a cab. You’ve got money, right?” she asked, threading her arm through mine and tugging me away from the gravitational pull that was Marcello.
He turned to her, and with a kindness clearly reserved for anyone but me, he calmed her down. “Daisy, cara, you’ve known me how long? We are just going to talk.”
“I’ve known you for years, Marcello, and through all of those years I’ve adored you as a dear friend. But this is my girl, and for me, she comes first.”
This little Western-style standoff needed no more oxygen, so I waded in to set everyone straight on what exactly was happening here. “This is long overdue,” I whispered, stepping between them.
“I’ve got your address, I’ve got money, and I’ll be home be- fore dinner.”
“Okay, but just make sure that—”
“I love you; good-bye,” I said, giving her a quick hug and joining Marcello by the door.
Sidestepping him, I stood against the railing until he closed the door behind us.
“Well, this is unexpected,” I sighed, rolling my shoulders a bit. And I became aware of my hand on his arm. I didn’t remember putting it there, but there it was. His skin felt warm, and he felt strong. And my hand looked dainty and ladylike resting there. My left hand, which felt lighter than it had in years.
I wanted to stay there all day, admiring how fantastic my hand looked on his skin once more, but instead I wisely started walking down the winding staircase to the front door that opened up to the street, knowing he’d follow. As I reached for the knob, he moved next to me to hold the door open. My shoulder brushed his chest as I walked past him, his scent filling my nose and making me tense up. I held my breath, keeping the air in my lungs until it burned.
We headed down the few front stairs in silence, but not an empty silence. No sir, this silence was filled with unspoken words. It was charged, heavy, a living, breathing thing. The world only heard the sound of our footsteps, one before the other. But what I heard was is this real, is this happening, am I actually here in Rome walking casually down the stairs and now the street with Marcello, my Marcello? My Marcello who could make me laugh and cry and gasp and sigh and feel all of the feelings that remind me that I’m a part of this planet and experiencing good wonderful things as I was meant to? But, as quickly as I remembered all the good things, I remembered everything else.
As we walked down the street, our eyes would meet in fleeting glances and I had the chance to admire him once more. To take in the strong hand running nervously through his thick dark curls. To remember what it was like to run my hands through those curls, not because I was nervous but because I desperately needed the anchor.
To watch those eyes light up at the simple sight of a fat yellow cat perched on a windowsill, enjoying a bath in the sun. I’d seen those eyes light up while I performed an impromptu striptease while shopping for bikinis on a lazy Spanish afternoon, caught half in and half out of a dressing room while his hands roamed across my body and his mouth alternated between laughing and kissing.
There was always that little nugget of hope that somehow, someway our paths might cross again and I’d be granted the privilege of seeing this man once more, to remember what I knew so well, what I loved so deeply. It was a hope I could only entertain in fleeting moments and passing thoughts, or they’d make it impossible to stay in my well-crafted life where passion was something I was no longer acquainted with.
But here I was gliding down the cobblestones of Rome only inches away from the man who could have been the love of my entire life, and it was lesson in pure torture. With a green T-shirt snug across his chest and khaki shorts, he looked every bit the young man I fell in love with. Even knowing that the conversation would be painful, I was still happy to see him again.
“I know my timing isn’t right, but I wanted to say something.”
He stopped, turning to me with a blank expression.
“Is it terrible of me to say I’m actually really glad to see you?” He looked up at the sky, then back to me, allowing a small
smile. “It is not terrible.”