Title: Married Under the Italian Sun
Original Story by: Lucy Gordon
Manga by: Mayu Takayama
Publisher: DMP & Harlequin’
Available at eManga
We are supposed to be pummeled by a snow storm, so how else can I forget about the impending precipitation than traveling off to Italy? Harlequins are well known for their exotic locales, so I decided to dive into some warm weather. Unfortunately, the setting was about the only favorable aspect of Married Under the Italian Sun. This one was a chore to get through, and I was so disappointed by it. The overall presentation, is, once again, shoddy, but I’ll get more into that later.
Angela is giving up the life of an American celebrity and moving off to Italy. After shedding her cheating husband, she emerges from the unhappy union the owner of a villa in southern Italy. That’s all the alimony she’s going to get, even though her ex is a rich director. Angela doesn’t really mind because she’s so happy to be rid of him, and the scenery is so much nicer than back home. Hanging up the persona of Angel, a busty bimbo, was easy, but getting along with the new gardener at the villa is not.
Vittorio is the former owner of Angela’s new digs, and he’s still attached to his old home. More specifically, he is obsessed with the lemon grove, and he wants to ensure that the crop doesn’t wither on the branch and die. Needing a source of income, Angela quickly sees the wisdom in keeping him on, because the stunningly handsome guy knows everything there is to know about her lemon trees. And he’s up at the crack of dawn to tend to the crop. How can she chase this guy away?
That is the gist of the story. Sure, they both have some extra baggage weighing them down, but none of it was particularly compelling. It didn’t make me feel sorry for them, or give me a new understanding to their one-dimensional personalities. The most disappointing aspect was the lack of romantic tension. There were very few moments that got Angela’s heart to go pitter-patter, and I felt like I was reading a manual on lemon harvesting. I failed to make any kind of emotional connection with any of the characters, and the painfully uneven pacing made this a painful half hour out of my life.
The presentation was awful again, but this title was the worst so far. Awkwardly positioned text was nothing next to the Flurry of Random capital Letters inserted on nearly Every page. It was so distracting! There were a lot more smudges in this one, too, as if the person responsible for the page cleanup was just as bored by the story as I was.
This is not a good example of a Harlequin romance. This is not a good example of any kind of romance at all. This is a book with fairly attractive art that documents life at a lemon grove. If you are looking for a romance, read one of the other Harlequin titles instead.