Monday, May 4, 2020

The Summer Villa

Title:  The Summer Villa
Author:  Melissa Hill
Publication Information:  MIRA. 2020. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0778359980 / 978-0778359982

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and the Harlequin Trade Publishing's 2020 Spring Reads blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It was just a little white lie."

Favorite Quote:  "I'm saying it because there comes a time when you need to decide if what you want from life is more important than the trappings you'd forfeit for that freedom."

Then & now. Now and then. Back and forth. Now is the launch of a wellness retreat/resort on the beautiful Amalfi coast. Then is almost a decade prior when three young women meet because they are staying in the same villa for a vacation in Italy for a few weeks.

The setting of the Amalfi coast is simply beautiful. It is the stuff of dreams, which is perfect for a reading escape. "They say that when Judgement day comes, the people of Amalfi will have no change in life, for they are already living in paradise..." The idea of lounging poolside in a beautiful villa with vistas of the coast and the ocean ... need I say more?

Then. Kim is escaping her family's expectations. She is a trust fund baby; she has had all her material needs and wants met, but love has been sorely lacking in her family. At her mother and sister's behest, Colette is taking a well deserved breaking from the responsibilities of an ill parent and a family business. Annie is there because of the generosity of a virtual stranger who wants to set her on a  new path in life. The three meet accidentally but form an immediate bond.

Now. Kim has created a successful business, with help from a mentor and ideas that may not be her own. The central idea:  "La dolce vita:  good food, good drinks, good people. Because life is meant to be lived, and lived well". Kim's business dreams are culminating in the opening of Villa Dolce Vita as a retreat. She invites her friends to the launch. Colette has married, but her dreams of becoming a mother remain unfulfilled. Annie is a single mother and fighting to keep her business alive.

The story goes back and forth between "then" and "now" slowly displaying both the bonds between these women and also the differences. Both then and now, each woman struggles with her own issues and insecurities. Relationships - and men - are involved. It takes a while to settle into the story because the story not only goes back and forth in time but also back and forth between the perspectives of the three women. It takes a few chapters to create a picture of each woman's story.

Of the two, I much prefer the story of the now. The story of "then" is about young women, parties, physical appearances, and romances. Each young woman has other life concerns, but the story reverts back to these matters. The story of "now" is about the ethics of business, about communication and trust in marriage, about trust, about illness, about infertility, and about decisions to be made. It offers more substance.

Gradually, of course, the two story threads wind together. Some of how that happens is completely as I might predict, but, much to my delight, some of it is unexpected. The ending comes back to the expected, but the unexpected in what is a summer beach read makes it more memorable.


The Summer Villa
Blog Tour

Author: Melissa Hill
ISBN: 9780778359982
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher:  MIRA Books


Author Bio:
MELISSA HILL lives in south Dublin with her husband and daughter. A USA TODAY and international #1 bestseller, she is the author of 13 novels, including The Gift of a Charm and A Gift From Tiffany's. The Gift of a Charm was a USA TODAY bestseller. Hailed "the queen of the big plot twist," she combines all the warmth and humor of contemporary women's fiction with plots that keep readers guessing from page to page. Melissa also cowrites forensic thrillers with her husband, Kevin, under the pseudonym Casey Hill, featuring crime scene investigator Reilly Steel. For more information, visit www.caseyhillbooks.com.
Book Summary:

When a little white lie becomes the story of your life, what if the truth comes out?

For three woman, it's a life-changing trip: one finds the man of her dreams, another discovers inspiration amidst Italian food and culture, while a chance encounter with a handsome local ushers in the ultimate life change for the third. But most importantly, it's the beginning of a deep and lasting friendship between all three.

Now years later, Kim Weston - entrepreneur and owner of internationally successful Italian food and lifestyle business, The Sweet Life - has bought and restored the tumble-down villa to its former glory -- and plans to reopen Villa Dolce Vita as a wellness/cultural retreat - a fitting honor to the root of her business inspiration.

To celebrate the villa's grand opening, she and her Italian business partners are throwing a huge three-day party; flying a group of family, business and media contacts to the Amalfi Coast to join in the celebrations. And most importantly, the (still) close friends who started the journey with her.

But in the run up to the planned weekend in Italy, it becomes clear that not everyone is happy about the party, nor are they on board with such ambitious plans for the location. And, as Villa Dolce Vita's grand relaunch draws closer, old memories and past secrets come to light, and the three old friends are forced to question if anything that happened on that first fateful trip to the villa is at all what it seemed.


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