While I've enjoyed Reay's first three books a great deal, especially Dear Mr. Knightley, this book... I loved.
In fact, I loved it so much, I'm having trouble coming up with words to review it. Maybe it's just that this hit more sweet spots for me -- it has a mixed-culture family, characters proving themselves, and a very helpful heroine. Her helping doesn't always truly help, but she tries. And tries.
Emily Price restores damaged art. Not fine art, usually, not museum artwork, but stuff people have in their house that gets damaged by fires or floods and so on. While in Atlanta on an assignment, she meets Ben, an Italian chef visiting family there as well. He spends two weeks wooing her, they get married, they go back to Italy to live with his family, and that's where it gets really good. The bulk of the book is Emily trying to figure out how to fit in with Ben's family, how to help his various family members with their problems (whether they want her help or not), and most of all, coming to terms with who she is.
I feel like Reay's first four books were well-written, but they lacked an emotional something. Vulnerability? Depth? Punch? I don't know -- like I said, having trouble with words. But whatever it is, this book has it and then some. I didn't get tears in my eyes while reading this book, I had to put the book down several times because I was crying too much to read. It has taken me basically a week to process the book after finishing it before I could write even this review, and this is not as coherent as I would like. This book touched me -- not just because I did identify with Emily's need to help, but because Ben's whole family was so, well, real. I am buying my own copy of this book, it's that special to me.
(Also, I love her analysis of The Taming of the Shrew, which plays a part in this, because it's pretty close to my own. See page 222 -- I'm not typing the whole thing out, sorry.)
Particularly Good Bits:
If I let myself go, forgot the boundaries, forgot the rules I myself fashioned and imposed, what could happen? (p. 91).
Planning a surprise for no reason other than to bring another person delight was, in fact, romantic (p. 110).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for discussions of unwed pregnancy.