Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice-Inspired, Modern-day Adaptation, Mature Audiences Only
SETTING: Modern-day Belmont, Bronx, New York
- Dr. Elizabeth Fairchild/Lizzy Clemente/Doc Hollywood: Middle sister, is off in LA working as a podiatrist to celebrity clientele. Has some hang-ups about her family and their Italian-American stereotypical behaviors.
- Regina “Gina” Clemente: Oldest sister, works as a hairstylist, is very sweet, but don’t underestimate her, she has a sharp mind and can easily disarm the enemy.
- Nichole “Nikki” Clemente: Youngest sister, has a mouth on her like you wouldn’t believe, and dresses like a streetwalker. Also works as a hairstylist and is fiercely loyal and protective of her loved ones.
- Dr. Michael Garin/Michelangelo/Altar Boy: A cosmetic surgeon who currently runs his father’s practice, where he spends most of his days doing injections and body-sculpting surgeries for the affluent and elite. A very admired and sought after bachelor, may also be a bit of a germaphobe.
SYNOPSIS: The Clemente sisters are brought together to inherit a desirable piece of property from their great-aunt. The Villa Fortuna building transforms Gina’s and Nikki’s lives by giving them a chance to open their own salon; it also brings Lizzy home for a long break where she makes some important discoveries about herself and meets an unbelievably amazing guy…
WHAT I LOVED:
- Utterly Charmed: The Clemente sisters have me completely and utterly charmed! Especially Gina and Nikki – they embrace their culture, have huge hearts, and display so many delightful personality quirks that one cannot help but love them! I loved seeing Lizzy’s generous act of charity to the homeless man and witnessing Nikki come to the rescue multiple times wielding her awesome weapon of choice!
- Full of Heart: This story doesn’t have pride and prejudice as its main conflict. While there are misunderstandings and mistaken assumptions, the central themes are more about stereotypes and learning to accept who you are and where you came from. The lesson is an important one as many people can relate to the desire to leave home and feeling ashamed of one’s family and background.
- The Community, The Family: The descriptions of Arthur Avenue, Messina Pastry Shop, and Palhairmo are colorful, vivid, and warm. The Clemente sisters are so lucky to be surrounded by such a loving and vibrant adopted family. Reading this book is like being invited to an Italian-American home, eating until all your buttons pop off, and feeling embraced with the fiercest love possible. I loved my visit to the Bronx and would gladly return, just for the food and characters alone!
- Cat Gardiner Essentials: You may know from my previous reviews, that I adore all the little creative touches that Ms. Gardiner includes in the world of her novels (i.e. blog posts, spotify lists, etc.). I was so happy to see that continue in Villa Fortuna, with over half a dozen Italian recipes woven throughout the book and a very handy Italian glossary in the back (which I referred to often!) I love these clever little extras!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
(Disclaimer: I was fond of everything, Cat Gardiner’s books are splendid!) But I will admit that about halfway through the book I found myself thinking the romance was too uncomplicated and lacking conflict. I’m not a fan of perfect, insta-love relationships, and Lizzy and Mike, while completely adorable, seemed to teetering closely towards perfection. I shouldn’t have doubted though, because Cat Gardiner definitely served a heaping amount of tension, heart-ache, and gripping uncertainty later on in the story! Well done!
Villa Fortuna is an amazing heart-warming romance of about finding yourself, finding home, and finding happiness! Filled with nods to Pride and Prejudice, personality, and passion this is an all-consuming reading experience you should not miss, whether you are Italian-American or not! I highly recommend!
NOTE: Due to suggestive language, adult situations, and some use of profanity, I’d recommend this for Mature Audiences only.