Escape to Villa Limoncello… where dreams come true in unexpected ways. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Kat French
When Isabella Jenkins is unceremoniously fired from her fancy London job, she escapes to Tuscany. A few weeks hiding amongst rolling hills and grape vines at Villa Limoncello sounds exactly like the distraction she needs.
But Italy holds emotional memories for Izzy and with a hapless handyman, a matchmaking village matriarch and a gorgeous – if infuriating – local chef named Luca Castelotti, her quiet Italian get away turns into an unending cacophony of chaos.
Suddenly Izzie finds herself on a mission to pull off the wedding of the century and maybe get her life in order in the process. If only Luca’s gorgeous smile wasn’t such a powerful distraction…
I’d like to thank Daisy James and Canelo for inviting me to take part in this wonderful blog tour.
Izzie paused, watching her friend scroll distractedly through her messages until she stopped to reread one of them, her eyes igniting with delight.
‘Oh my God! I have the perfect solution!’
‘You do? For confessing to your family the reasons why you’ve swapped muddy Wellies for sequinned sandals?’
‘Not for me, for you!’
Izzie’s stomach contracted around what felt like a particularly large pineapple as she saw the gleam of excitement in Meghan’s sea-green eyes. Oh no, what had she cooked up now! She braced herself for another of her outrageous suggestions – like the time she’d proposed a weekend on an outward-bound expedition which involved wild camping and scavenging for food because the course leader bore more than passing resemblance to Bear Grylls. There was no way Meghan could have survived even one night without the use of her hair straighteners, let alone exist on a diet of wild berries and foraged leaves.
A more pleasurable excursion, for Izzie at least, had been the time they’d taken advantage of the VIP tickets Meghan had scored from her parents for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March and it was testament to their friendship that Meghan had stoically endured the whole episode with a smile on her face, despite her aversion to all things horse-related. On the journey back to London on a packed train, Izzie had confided that the trip had nudged her another step in the right direction on the journey to resume her place in normality at last.
‘So, promise you’ll hear me out before you refuse?’
‘Oh, Meghan, I’m not really…’
Izzie rolled her eyes and signalled her agreement by gesturing a zipping action across her lips.
‘Okay. Remember I told you my brother rang this morning in a complete panic? What’s new I hear you say! Well, apparently Lucy, his incredibly efficient PA, went to visit her family in Dublin at the weekend and after a trip to the local oyster-fest, has gone down with a bad case of food poisoning, poor girl.’
Izzie had met Meghan’s brother Brad Knowles, a charismatic and award-winning film director/producer, on a few occasions over the years. Each time he’d been chasing around like a headless chicken trying to rectify some kind of calamity. She had no idea how such a talented director could be so disorganised and get anything done. Meghan had even confided in her that when he and his wife Rachel had returned from their honeymoon in the Maldives, he’d forgotten where he’d parked his brand-new Range Rover and it had taken three days to locate it because he couldn’t remember the registration number.
Surely Meghan wasn’t about to suggest that she step into the sensible heels of his super-efficient Girl Friday who was probably the only reason he ever got to say the words ‘it’s a wrap!’? She could feel her heart start to beat a little faster and the anxiety demons raised their enquiring eyes above the parapet. Meghan, however, misinterpreted her concern.
‘Oh, don’t worry, she’s out of hospital now, but the medics have advised her to take it easy for a week or two, so she’s staying on in Ireland so that her parents can pamper her until she recovers completely. Anyway, would you believe my dear delusional brother had the audacity to ask me to use the last few days of my annual leave to help him out with a wedding shoot in Italy! The cheek! Obviously he’s conveniently forgotten the fiasco last October when I agreed to take a precious week’s holiday to join him and his crew in Tobago for that perfume commercial and we ended up getting stuck there during one of the worst hurricanes ever. Remember?’
‘Meghan, if you are about to suggest what I think you’re about to suggest…’
‘And anyway, I can’t possibly miss the catwalk show on Monday, can I?’
‘No, no you can’t…’
‘It’s the perfect opportunity for you to forget about Dastardly Darren and decide where you want to go from here. Brad assured me that Lucy has everything organised and it’s just a matter of overseeing the last few tweaks for a very short wedding ceremony – it’ll be a doddle with your love of lists and organising. In fact, getting involved in such a lovely occasion might just reignite your creative streak whilst you soak up a bit of Italian sunshine, sample the food and wine, and who knows, you might meet a sexy, passionate Italian stallion who’ll sweep you off your feet and show you what you’ve been missing!’
Meghan wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.
‘Meg, I don’t know the first thing about staging a film shoot!’
‘How hard can it be? Knowing Lucy, everything will be sorted. Hang on, I’ll just call Brad and ask him for a few more details. Oh God, I hope he’s got his phone switched on – that’s if he even has his phone with him!’
Meghan was right to be sceptical because her call went straight to voicemail.
‘Oh well, never mind. He’s probably found someone else to step into the breach,’ said Izzie, struggling to disguise the relief in her voice.
‘I’ll give Rachel a quick ring. She doesn’t get much further than the school run these days. Only three weeks left to go until I get a new niece or nephew. Squeee, how exciting is that!’
Izzie’s heart gave a nip of pleasure at the joy spreading across her friend’s face as she dialled her sister-in-law’s number. Meghan had talked of little else since Brad and Rachel had announced they were to become parents for the second time and she had already amassed a trunk full of baby clothes in white, lemon and pistachio from Harrods’ nursery department, along with a cute red tricycle that Jonti had declared the most darling thing he’d ever seen.
‘Hey! Rachel, it’s Meghan. I don’t suppose Brad’s with you, is he? He’s got his phone switched off again.’
‘That’s because he’s probably half way up a volcano in Bali. Didn’t he mention that when he spoke to you this morning?’
‘No, he did not!’
‘Of course, he’s left his wallet behind again, so I hope his crew are feeling in a generous mood. I’m sorry he’s dumped this wedding gig on you, Meggie. I’m just booking your flight tickets now and I’ll email over the details to you along with the notes Lucy’s sent through.’
‘Booking my tickets? What do you mean? I told Brad I couldn’t do it because of the fashion show on Monday!’
‘Well, that isn’t what he told me, darling.’
‘Bloody typical! My brother is a complete and utter…’
Izzie watched Meghan pause, then meet her eyes with a look reminiscent of the one Charlie, her childhood pet spaniel, used to give her whenever she was eating a piece of her mother’s famous lemon drizzle cake. She sighed and nodded her head. After all, Meghan had come to her rescue many times over the last two years, offering her a listening ear and her unquestioning support – not to mention her insight into the dating scene – and it was time to repay her friendship.
‘Okay, Rachel, send over the emails and change the flight into Izzie’s name. She’s just agreed to come to my brother’s rescue – so he owes her big time. I’ll ask for a couple of days off work after the show and fly out on Thursday to help with the finishing touches, although I’m confident that Izzie will be able to pull this off with one hand tied behind her back and her eyes closed.’
Meghan tossed her phone onto the coffee table and padded to the huge silver SMEG refrigerator to grab one of the bottles of prosecco and a couple of glasses.
‘Thanks for doing this, Izzie. You’ve just saved my brother’s ass.’
‘So, do you have any idea who any of the actors are?’
‘Or whereabouts in Italy the wedding is taking place?’
A tickle of trepidation agitated in her chest when she said the word ‘Italy’ but she ignored it. It was a huge country and fate couldn’t be so cruel.
‘All Brad said was that it’s in this amazing farmhouse with a vineyard and an olive grove and a tennis court! Hang on while I take a look at what Rachel’s sent through. Ah, look, here it is. I told you it would be okay. Lucy is a whizz at stuff like this. Here’s an email with a list of things that need to be done. Oh, and you don’t need to worry about the catering because she’s arranged for someone called Carlotta who lives in the local village to sort that out, so there’s just overseeing the location. What could be easier?’
‘Just because I can stage a room doesn’t mean I know anything about staging a wedding for a film shoot! It’s a whole different ball-game, and one which you only get one chance at getting right! Any mistakes will be captured on camera for all eternity!’
Izzie pulled a face and Meghan’s expression softened.
‘Look, Izzie, you’ll be amazing – you have all the right skills – and if I can do it, so can you! It’ll be good for you to go somewhere where no one knows you or your history. And weren’t you learning to speak Italian before… well, just… before. Oh, I can’t wait to join you. I’ve never dated an Italian guy. Remember that French waiter I literally bumped into when we went over to Paris after we graduated? And what about Dimitri and Andreas we met in Cephalonia? I swear they must have been the descendants of Greek gods…’
But Izzie wasn’t listening. She had seen the location of the farmhouse where the filming was due to take place in a weeks’ time. Tuscany. And not just any old village hidden in the rolling Tuscan hills, but one that had Florence in its address. Her fingertips fizzed with mounting panic and anxiety gnawed at her gut. She couldn’t go to Florence.
‘I can’t do it, Meghan,’ she whispered. ‘I can’t go to Florence. You know why.’
Meghan squinted at the sentence in the email Izzie was pointing to.
‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry, Izzie. I swear I had no idea. Yes, yes, of course, I understand. I’ll call Rachel back straight away and tell her to find someone else. There’s bound to be some kind of agency in the area that can organise a wedding on short notice – we don’t have to tell them it’s for a film shoot.’ And Meghan began scrolling through her contacts for Rachel’s number again.
Later that night, when Izzie was stretched out on her bed, listening to the pigeons dance a final fandango on the roof tiles, and the traffic on the street below morph from shrill cacophony to a low, gentle hum, she still had no idea what made her change her mind and say ‘No, don’t. I’ll go.’ The words had flown from her lips before she’d had a chance to engage her brain and when she saw the way Meghan’s eyes lit up, she didn’t have the heart to renege on her spontaneous loss of sanity. Also, as they’d chatted about the adventure that lay ahead, her spirits had edged up a notch and she experienced a tiny tickle of excitement, mingled with a dose of trepidation, deep in the crevices of her befuddled mind.
She was going to Italy! To Florence, a place she had wanted to visit since school. It wasn’t how she had planned it, of course, and she knew the trip would be filled with painful ‘what ifs’ as well as sunshine and cannoli, but she had to admit that Meghan was right. It was time she jumped back onto the carousel of normality, time to stitch her grief into the tapestry of her life and create a new picture – and finalising the arrangements for a short film shoot could be exactly what she needed to do that.
Ideas had already started to flood her brain. There hadn’t been a photograph of the Tuscan farmhouse that would be her home for the next week, but the name of the place evoked a sensation of better times ahead.
All About Daisy
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
Where To Find Daisy
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