Callie, a lonely small-town waitress, is still reeling from the discovery that she’s adopted when she arrives in Montevino, Italy in search of answers – the keys to the stunning hillside villa she has just inherited clutched tightly in her hand. Inside the rusted gates, and through a large wooden front door dripping with sun-kissed flowers, Callie can’t decide if she’s more astonished by her new home or her first encounter with the mysterious young groundskeeper, Tommaso.
Wandering the villa barefoot at night, Callie finds a diary belonging to a woman named Elisa, wrapped in faded blue ribbon and hidden in her birthmother’s antique wardrobe. Page by page, Callie is swept away by its story of love, passion, heartbreak and betrayal as she reads how Elisa married her childhood sweetheart in secret before fleeing to the woods to join the resistance. They vowed to find each other again when the war was over, but history had other plans.
Callie is certain that her and Elisa’s lives are somehow connected, and that the truth about her family is hidden somewhere within the diary’s crinkled yellow pages. It gives her the courage to start asking questions around the close-knit village until, at long last, she feels her closed-off heart begin to open. Perhaps even enough to let someone in…
But when a devastating betrayal in the final pages of the diary unlocks a heart-breaking secret about who Callie’s mother really is, the chance for a new life shatters in front of her. Can she persuade the locals to forgive her past and accept the truth about her identity?
The Bottom Line: I want to say this is writing at its finest, but there are a few issues with this generally enjoyable book that can’t be overlooked in an honest review. First and foremost is the very slow start; it takes more than a hot minute to get Callie to Italy and the story doesn’t really pick up the pace until she arrives on Italian soil. My other major issue is how neatly and perfectly some elements of the story fit into place; life doesn’t really work so neatly and perfectly which makes parts of the story a bit hard to accept. With the negative out of the way, I must admit to still liking this book quite a lot. Callie is an utterly sympathetic and likeable character whose story is only just beginning even as she uncovers the story of her family’s sad and sordid history. The larger setting, the town, the villa, and her family’s local shop all serve to enhance the read and provide a wonderful backdrop for the story to unfold. When you throw in a love interest with a bit of his own history, well, this book has a bit of everything for everyone. Though I would have preferred things to have ended a little less perfectly than it did, I still can’t complain too much because the positive undoubtedly outweighed the negative.