Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Source: I received an ARC copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.
When I started reading JAFF last December, I was very hesitant to read a modern variation, believing that I would not enjoy the modern day setting and obstacles encountered within these stories. Last summer, I finally gave into my curiosity after reading so many glowing reviews on Goodreads, as I picked up Cat Gardiner’s book, “Lucky 13.” For me, this was a lucky thing indeed, because it opened my heart and my mind to enjoying all types of modern JAFF! After reading “Villa Fortuna,” I believe that Cat Gardiner has created another fabulous read that will appeal to a wide range of readers!
“Villa Fortuna,” is not only the title of this story, it’s also the building located in posh Westchester County, NY, which has been at the root of a long-time dispute between two Italian-American families, whose former ties to the mafia dating back to the 1930s, has left a shroud of mystery concerning the ownership of the building. Fast forward to 2015, where Villa Fortuna has just been inherited by the three Clemente sisters, who learn from their prozia’s (great-aunt) suave Italian attorney, that they must all comply with their deceased prozia’s wishes, to finalize their inheritance of this lucrative building. Naturally, their prozia’s wishes involve requests that the sisters would be less likely to fulfill if there wasn’t such a promising reward.
On the one side of “town,” with that part of “town” being the Bronx, NY, we meet the Clemente sisters, Gina, Elizabeth and Nicki, aka Jane, Elizabeth, and Lydia, if you’re keeping track of the Bennet sisters. The sisters share strong ties as Italian-American ladies, who acknowledge a wide range of feelings over their Italian heritage, as well as their regard for Italian-American men. It seems the sisters have had their share of heartache due to their past relationships with Italian-American men and each sister has her own remedy for handling these painful memories.
Currently single, the three sisters join their talents together to change their fates and put their inheritance to good use. Dr. Elizabeth Fairchild, nee Clemente, has just flown in from California, where her dreams of becoming a successful podiatrist are fading, as she continues to face several obstacles in her male-dominated field. Ashamed of her Italian heritage and looking to leave that part of herself behind, she briefly returns to NY to help get Gina and Nicki’s plans for Villa Fortuna in motion.
On the other side of town, known also as Manhattan, NY, we meet Dr. Michael Garin, aka, Fitzwilliam Darcy, for those of us who like a little Darcy in our romances. Dr. Garin is a highly sought after plastic surgeon at Manhattan Aesthetic Associates (MAA) with a dismal dating history, who has just enlisted the help of online dating sites to find himself a love match. Even though he’s relentlessly pursued by numerous single women, some who are former surgical patients, such as Blair Channing, (think Caroline Bingley here) Dr. Garin is hoping to find the one woman who loves him for who he is and not only for what he can do with his hands to help a woman achieve her “personal” best.
Yet, it’s his duty to his family that he hears about, day in and day out from his grandmother, Stella Russo De Luca, aka Aunt Catherine. From her earliest memories, Stella has been driven by the old Russo and Clemente family feud, dating back to her mobster father’s days, with one sole purpose in mind; take back ownership of Villa Fortuna and set her family’s future onto the right track. So, when Stella hears that the Clemente sisters are going to inherit Villa Fortuna and turn it into a hair salon, right across the street from the well-established, upper crust Halo Salon, she enlists every ally she can find, in her attempt to derail the Clemente sister’s salon.
But how do you compete with a chic new salon that not only pays tribute to old time Italian traditions, such as delectable Italian baked goods and homemade vino, and that also serves up fancy updos and stylish haircuts, courtesy of the Clemente sisters and friends? As events unfold, and plans begin to go awry, both families find themselves immersed in a battle of love and war, Italian style. Will the old family feud ever reach an end, or are these two long-time Italian families bound to battle each other for many years to come?
As a proud Italian-American, I caught myself laughing out loud throughout this entire story! Cat Gardiner’s execution of delivering to readers an Italian-American Christmas JAFF, with a twist of sexy on the side, is brilliant. Readers will love the Clemente sisters, chin hairs and all. They are determined, and loyal, as they search for love and happiness in their part of the Big Apple. The supporting cast of characters, recognized by JAFF fans for the “Pride and Prejudice” characters that they are based on, offer plenty of moments of humor, romance and just plain, good old fun. I enjoyed how Cat cleverly brought them to life in this modern day Italian-American NYC setting, where misunderstandings and mayhem rule the day.
Dr. Garin and Dr. Fairchild certainly make one hot and adorable couple. I loved watching how they came to terms with themselves, as well as with each other, as they each had their own Elizabeth Bennet moments, where they pondered whether or not they had really ever known themselves in their quests for happiness and acceptance. To be true to one’s self is a struggle that many of us can empathize with, as we search to bring from our past what will move us towards our own future happiness. At one point, I wanted to comfort Elizabeth Fairchild by reminding her, “Don’t fret so much over this whole Italian thing. Even Colin Firth is happily married to a hot-blooded Italian girl!”
With recipes for scrumptious Italian baked goods at the back of each chapter, and a holiday playlist to set the mood, why not grab a copy of “Villa Fortuna,” and celebrate some juicy, hot romance, Italian style?
You can check out Cat’s Pinterest Board for Villa Fortuna at the link below, as well as the link to her blog, where she discusses Villa Fortuna:
To get you into the “Villa Fortuna” holiday mood, Cat has shared with us her Spotify and Youtube playlists at the links below:
Cat Gardiner would like to offer two Just Jane 1813 readers an opportunity to win a copy of this yummy Christmas JAFF ebook and she has a paperback copy for another lucky winner, with all three giveaways also open to international addresses. Please share in the comments box the name of your favorite holiday baked good. Please have all comments submitted by December 15th. Our giveaway winners will be announced on this blog on December 16, 2015.
I’d like to thank Cat Gardiner for writing another modern JAFF book that I absolutely adored! “Pride and Prejudice” Italian style, along with holiday baked goods are certainly a new favorite holiday combination! I’d also like to thank her for offering our Just Jane 1813 readers this generous giveaway opportunity!