I saw this book reviewed and recommended by Pat @ TBQ’s Book Palace blog. The combination of an over 40 romance, Italy, food, and a chance for change and adventure sounded intriguing and I had to read it.
This book was the start of a series called Late Bloomers about mature women who are closer than sisters finding love during their travel ventures around the world.
Rose helps her friend Violet do a celebration of life for Violet’s mother and it starts her to accessing her own life, but it is the thought of her grown daughter making a huge mistake with an older man that has her jetting over to Italy to set Rachel straight. Only when she arrives, bristling and hostile toward the mature Spanish restaurateur, she discovers that things were not what she thought. Her friends and daughter encourage her to use this time in Italy to finally do something for herself- live, love, enjoy. But Rose has been a responsible person and nurturer her whole life so this is easier said than done.
Mateo was wounded deeply by love and chose to leave his successful life as an architect in Madrid behind to manage the Italian restaurant on Lake Como that he and his friends own together. Five years later, he is ready for something new. Rose has the strong, fiery nature that matches his own, but he knows not to rush her. It doesn’t take long for him to see they have a connection and there can be something special. They enjoy sumptuous meals, local activities, and time baring their lives and a little of their souls, but neither want consider what will come at the end of their two weeks.
This story is a traveler and foodie- lover’s dream romance. The descriptions during Rose’s time in Italy and actually her home in Arizona and her visit to London are equally colorful and sensual. But the story was balanced with character and romantic development.
Rose is the homebody of her group of friends who have all scattered around the globe in their pursuits. Her past and her personality have her to being one who is very grounded and who overthinks everything just so she avoids making mistakes. Her determination to be responsible and care for others has left her in a bit of a quandary when she arrives at a point in life where there is no longer a need for her to be that person. Rose has forgotten how to dream, to go for her dream, to be spontaneous and flexible. She is cynical of love and struggles with the need to be in control. This journey to Italy is a journey of the heart and soul along with an actual physical journey. I enjoyed seeing her open and bloom especially this late in life.
Mateo is less developed in the story which focuses a tad more on Rose, but he, too, has been on a journey of healing during his self-imposed exile. Unlike Rose, Mateo has every reason in the world to avoid the search for lasting love, but he is one special man who sees what he wants, sees the quality in Rose even when it is barely visible, and even after he makes mistakes, he goes for the prize.
The romance starts out rocky. Rose has formed erroneous impressions and she doesn’t let them go that easily when it comes to Mateo. She tends to jump to conclusions and isn’t as insightful as she would like to believe about herself. Mateo is determined to do everything right this go around with love and he does for the most part though his late reticence almost sabotages it all. This pair are passionate and match well. I enjoyed all the romantic scenes with them. That biking trip and their meal had me melting and envious.
The story is focused on Rose and Mateo, but there is a delightful circle of friends around them. Rose is close to the other Late Bloomers and Mateo has his two best friends along with the people at the restaurant. Their friends are quirky and quite the characters. I look forward to further encounters with them.
On a side note, my eARC didn’t’ have them, but a regular copy has links for food, music, and travelogue to go with the story. Also, there is a free prequel, The Unfolding, at Amazon.
In the end, this was a feast for the senses and emotions. I can easily recommend this blend of spicy women’s fiction and contemporary romance to others who enjoy an Autumn romance.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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