Italy has always lured women seeking romance and adventure. It's a country and culture which lends itself to the idea of letting your hair down. Many women I know would blame the film "Under A Tuscan Sun" for this notion, or Merchant Ivory's enchanting version of "A Room With A View". I suppose I should blame the summer I spent there in my mid-twenties as an art history-drenched backpacker. But mostly Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" has a lot to answer for. Anyone ever see a blonde goddess in an evening gown climb into the Trevi Fountain?
Ava, my heroine, blames Gianluca Benedetti - her one-time, one-night, never-forget walk on the wild side. Her equivalent of climbing into the fountain. Because she's back, and so is he. In Rome.
The plan - and Ava's pretty big on plans - was her long-time, dull-as-dishwater-but-until-now-trustworthy boyfriend was going to propose marriage. Ava was pretty sure of this, given she'd organised everything: the trip, the spot by the Trevi Fountain, the ring. She'd even bought herself a special dress. Problem was, the boyfriend wasn't too keen and dropped out at the last minute.
Now Ava's off-schedule - which messes with her anal retentive mind like crazy - and all alone in Rome. Enter Prince Gianluca Benedetti - six foot six, older, harder, but as irresistible as ever. He strolls back into her life and he's more than willing to take up where they left off...
Cue the road trip to Sicily - which gets hijacked by a helicopter and an unplanned idyll on the Amalfi Coast. Cue the traditional Italian Alpha male trying to make sense of a very angry, very confused Australian woman who might run a multi-million dollar corporation back home in Sydney, but is pretty clueless about men - and who for the next two weeks is hell bent on not lowering a lifetime of defences and allowing herself to trust a man whose longest relationship with a woman could be counted in weeks, not months.
But we all know what happens to women who wash up in the Italian countryside... and before long Ava's just a mass of hormones and longing and Gianluca's only too happy to help her out with that.
This is the most Cinderella-y romance I've yet tackled, over-the-top fantasy with its feet stuck in the mud of one woman's attempts to stop herself giving way to passion. I hope readers enjoy her journey as much as I enjoyed taking Ava's shoes away from her.