Genre: Contemporary Romance
When Sigrid O’Herlihy and Sandro Totti meet a short time before Christmas—with the help of an injured cat and a pink Vespa—the last thing either wants is love. Sigrid can’t forget the betrayal of her ex-fiance, and Sandro can’t forget the Italian beauty who broke his heart. But the attraction between Sigrid and Sandro is sizzling, so they decide to give lust a try. Love, after all, is for the naive and Sigrid and Sandro, both in their thirties and both determined to avoid future pain, take a more practical approach. With the Eternal City as their playground, the pair enjoy their Vespas—and occasionally Sandro’s fancy Italian sports car—fine wine, and helping homeless animals. A holiday visit to Sandro’s family in Tuscany, however, threatens their no-strings agreement and forces the pair to face their feelings and their fears. Will a little Christmas spirit be enough to bring about a leap of faith?”
“Time to face her, Sandro thought grimly, walking towards the bedroom with two cups of coffee in hand. She was sitting up in bed, having put her panties and shirt back on. She was checking her phone for messages. “Buongiorno,” he said, giving her a kiss on the nose, as though she were an annoying young friend entrusted to his care, not an equal, not a lover. He handed her a cup of piping hot black coffee.
“I didn’t know how you took it, so if you want milk or sugar, I can go get those for you.”
“No, no, black is fine. No calories.” She smiled. Awkward, she thought.
“You are slim. You could stand to take some kilos.”
“Women love hearing that,” she said. “And I am sure my remaining weeks in Italy will help in that regard.” Goodness, I sound so stilted, she thought. My remaining weeks in Italy will help me in that regard? I sound like a visiting public official. Such passion with this man last night and now we’re all weird and formal with each other. “The food here is amazing. But I try to be careful, now that I’m over thirty. Weight doesn’t come off easily as one gets older.”
“You look like a kid. I couldn’t believe it last night when you said you were over thirty.”
Finally! “Thanks, yes, I’ll be thirty-two in March.”
“And not married?”
“No,” she said indignantly. “But neither are you and you are how old?”
“I haven’t said.”
“I know, but how old are you?”
“I’ll be thirty-four in May. But it’s different for men.”
Sigrid rolled her eyes. “Of course it is. Have you heard from the vet?” Best to change the topic, she told herself, than embark on a never-ending argument about double standards.
“For once you don’t want to fight with me,” he smiled.
“No, I don’t. How is Pinot? Have you heard anything yet?”
“The bad news is that he will have to have his front right leg amputated. The good news is that he can live well like that, provided he is cared for safely indoors, and the even better news is that the staff at the hospital say he is much less of a street cat than we realized. He is friendlier now that he has been fed and given some flea treatments and is feeling more trusting.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I am saying that he needn’t be euthanized. I know that you were against that and I only thought it was an option when I believed he was a very feral cat who could never live indoors.”
“We have to find a home for him, though. I can take him, of course, and I will if needs be, but it would be better to find someone in Rome. I mean, if he comes to Canada with me he’ll have to learn to speak English, just for starters, though, of course, there is a big Italian community in Toronto.”
Sandro laughed. “For a moment I thought you were serious. You can really be quite funny when you aren’t being difficult.”
“Well, thank you, I think. But I wasn’t fully kidding. I mean, he would have to learn English in Canada.”
“Yes, well, in fact, that won’t be a problem. We don’t have to find a home for him. I have been informed that one of the young veterinary technicians at the animal hospital has already fallen in love with him and is determined to adopt him and take him into her home once his surgery has been successfully completed. I can’t think of a better match, for she will know all the proper care he might need as a cat with a disability. And of course, he will have to be neutered, as well.” Sandro winced and put his hand protectively between his legs as he said the word.
Sigrid laughed. “It’s not you being neutered!” And what a tragedy that would be.
“Well, I know, but I feel for him.”
“Believe me when I tell you, it’s better for him to be neutered, for myriad reasons.”
“Certo. My father will be happy to hear this outcome—he was worried about the little fellow yesterday. And the Totti family will be happy to pick up the cost of the surgeries and recovery time in the hospital for Pinot.”
Sigrid gasped. She had gotten so carried away the night before she hadn’t even realized that Sandro’s father might have been right down the hall the whole time. “Your father? Is he here? Does he know that I’m here?”
“No, no, don’t worry. He went to Tuscany late yesterday afternoon. We are alone here. Now, can I get you some breakfast? Would you like to take a shower? I don’t mean to rush you but I have some meetings starting in about an hour.” It was a lie. He had no meetings, at least not that morning.
Sigrid felt a figurative jackboot in the gut. Any woman who had been single long enough could recognize what was happening. Something had changed. Sandro wanted her out of there and he wanted her out of there fast. No post-sex cuddling or cooing and billing. He was distancing himself, drawing lines. It was the apparently inevitable “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” moment.”
BY AUBREY WYNNE
Aubrey Wynne is a member of the Coffee Talk Writers and a guest reviewer. This review was originally published on June 12 on http://coffeetalkwriters.com
Amore and Pinot-Grigio is a classic love story. Both main characters came out of relationships that left them sour on romance. Sigrid O’Herlihy is a Canadian determined to tackle Rome with enthusiasm and independence. (I would not manuever those narrow streets and raucous drivers on a pink moped.) Deceived by her fiancee, she is on a mission to forget men and love. Sandro Totti is haunted by another Italian beauty who broke his heart. When they meet, sparks fly but both decide they will proceed with a ‘no-strings attached’ attitude. The scenes are steamy but do not border erotica.
This practical relationship works perfectly until Sandro decides to take Sigrid to his family’s house in Tuscany. (Again, travel lovers will eat up the details. No pun intended!) Things start to unravel from here. Do you run the other way when true feelings of passion come to the forefront? Do you take a chance and trust someone one more time?
What starts out as a typical ‘boy meets ‘girl’ formula quickly turns into a warm and entertaining holiday romance with the necessary misunderstandings and memorable secondary characters. Ms. Bell creates an adorable accomplice in Guido (cats and animals in general brought the pair together). The story also included the magic of Christmas and a mysterious man, Niccoli, who offers advice and guidance. But will the two scorned lovers listen and allow love to heal their scarred hearts?
As a past tourist in Italy, this took me back and made me appreciate the Eternal City all over again. It brings me back to spectacular vacation packed with wonderful wine, food and lovely people. Those who have not visited will want to book a ticket after closing this book. I am also a humane investigator so the animal rescue theme made me smile and appreciate both characters even more. Love, Christmas, cute furry rescues–what more do you want? I give this story a hearty four mugs.
Hot, strong, and addicting!
Plot and pacing: 12/15
Technique and Editing: 9/10
About The Author
Veronica Bell grew up in British Columbia, Canada. She loves wine, travel, reading, writing, her handsome husband and her adorable pets…and not in that order. ‘Amore and Pinot Grigio: A Guido la Vespa Christmas Tale’ is her first book and she is working on a sequel which will allow Guido la Vespa to make some more mischief.
Keep in Touch With Veronica:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Veronic93398537
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7472009.Veronica_Bell