Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix–until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . . Emily Price–fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist–dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love. But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well–inviting her into his world and into his heart. Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit. Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?
I had heard of Katherine Reay only after I had the opportunity to read her book, The Brontë Plot, back in February of this year. (See “Book Review: The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay“.) Because I thought that book was so great, when I heard about this book, A Portrait of Emily Price, I couldn’t wait. Unfortunately, I have to say that when it arrived, I was already in the middle of another blog tour so this was placed on the back burner for a while. The book was released on November 1 of this year, so it’s still a really new book so everyone can find their copies easily! I know you’ll want to get your copy too, because A Portrait of Emily Price is a book full of awesomeness.
The protagonist, Emily Price is an art restorer who dreams of becoming an original artist someday. She travels to Atlanta to restore a mural in a home damaged by fire. That’s where she meets Chef Benito “Ben” Vassallo, who is visiting Atlanta to reconnect with his brother and breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s restaurant, Piccolo. Emily begins a “whirlwind romance” with Ben and falls in love with him while she works with him to improve the appearance of Piccolo. In a shocking move, she accepts Ben’s marriage proposal, marries him and and follows him to Italy. Once arriving in Italy, Emily is enchanted with the country, but because of Emily’s need to “fix” what she thinks is broken things get complicated when she meets her new Italian family.
The author does an excellent job of showing the relationship problems in families. I also think Katherine did a lovely job of describing Italy and, well “painting a picture” of the scenery for readers so descriptive that we feel a part of the story, especially in the driving scenes where we see hills and small towns, narrow driving lanes and arches that feel too small for the car to fit through. Breathtaking, for sure.
If you’re anything like me and you love romance stories that are realistic and don’t fall under the fairytale-type of “happily ever after” story, A Portrait of Emily Price is definitely a book you’ll want to read too! You can pick up a copy from Amazon HERE.
Here’s a video of an interview with Katherine Reay discussing this book:
Katherine Reay is a writer, wife, mom, continually rehabbing runner, compulsive vacuumist and a horrific navigator…She graduated from Northwestern University and earned an MS in Marketing from Northwestern as well. She then worked in marketing and development before returning to graduate school for a Masters of Theological Studies. Moves to Texas, England, Ireland and Washington left that degree unfinished as Katherine spent her time unpacking, raising kids, volunteering, writing, and exploring new storylines and new cities.
The Reay family (with a great sense of permanency) now resides outside Chicago, and Katherine pursues writing with more focus. She writes character-driven stories and non-fiction that focuses upon examining the past and how it influences our present experiences.
Her award-winning debut novel, “Dear Mr. Knightley,” is a contemporary story with a dash of Jane Austen and other nineteenth century writers thrown in for the fun of it. Her subsequent novels, “Lizzy & Jane” and “The Bronte Plot” and “A Portrait of Emily Price” feature stories of hope, reconciliation, family, some seriously good food and travel!
I received a complimentary paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion and review. Thanks so much!