There are two things that I love more than anything else when it comes to reading: romance and adventure. I love them so much, I literally put them in my bio. Why? Because romance is guaranteed to make me feel everything all at once: anticipation, wonder, anger (at the inevitable misunderstandings), and, of course, the heart bursting overload of happiness! Meanwhile, adventure keeps me on my toes. What place will I get to explore vicariously through these characters? What weird things will I see? What strange but useful factoids will I learn? The list of benefits to literary adventures goes on and on!
Given how strongly I feel about romance and adventure, it should come as no surprise that I’m obsessed with Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. Obviously it has my two favorite things, but it’s also jam-packed with other reasons that bring this to the top of my “must shove into the hands of every fellow reader I meet” list.
Bonus, it’s currently available as a free read, which is great because I’m about to go to town explaining to you why you should read it RIGHT NOW!
Love & Gelato is told from the perspective of Lina, an American who’s visiting Italy for the summer. This is important, especially if you’ve never been to Italy (like me). Because Lina’s never been to Italy before, you get to explore and learn about the country (specifically Tuscany and its surrounding areas) through her novice eyes. You’ll feel everything from excitement and wonder at seeing everything for the first time, to slight embarrassment as Lina makes common tourist/foreigner mistakes. You’ll get to visit and explore both the tourist attractions and the not-so-touristy attractions. It’s a whirlwind of beautiful experiences and you get to do all this without having to spring for an expensive plane ticket!
2. The Writing
Jenna Evans Welch has a gift for writing. Exploring Italy through a book wouldn’t be nearly as fun if she weren’t so incredibly gifted. The pacing is quick and easy to digest, but her choice of words really brings the views and experiences to life. Everything in and about this story unfolds like a beautifully wrapped gift. You’re going to end up devouring the story and then going back for seconds, I guarantee it!
3. The Journal
Lina goes to Italy because her mom has passed away and her mom’s last request is for her to get to know her father. As you can imagine, Lina is struggling with feelings of grief over her mother, and feelings of apprehension, since she’s in a foreign country with a complete stranger who happens to be her father. But then Lina gets her mom’s journal, and it’s like she’s getting to know her mom all over again. She learns what her mom was like when she was younger, and makes some incredible revelations about who her mom really was. Reading through the journal posts and seeing their impact on Lina is a beautiful experience. In a way, it’s like her mom was able to give her something to hold on to and to help her get through her grief.
4. The Mystery
Lina learns a lot from her mom’s journal, and she reads it slowly so she can savor these last few “moments” she’ll have with her mom. But as she reads, she begins to realize that some things aren’t quite adding up. Something in the journal is such a secret that it would seem her mom was too afraid to actually write it straight-out. Unfortunately, this all starts to happen as she nears the end of the journal. Did her mom gain enough courage to reveal the secret before she finished writing, or will Lina be left with a lifelong mystery?
Howard is Lina’s dad and he’s pretty great. He suddenly has a teenage daughter in his care that he didn’t know was his, but he rolls with it. Sure, sometimes he says the wrong thing, but he does his absolute best and always offers gelato at just the right moments. Even though Lina is only supposed to be visiting for the summer, he makes it pretty clear that he would be over the moon if she chose to stay with him indefinitely (but only if she wants to). I don’t want to give anything away, but throughout the book you learn things about Howard that will only endear him to you even more.
Ok, so he usually goes by Ren, but Lorenzo is so much more fun to say. I mean, if that isn’t the name of a swoonworthy leading man, I don’t know what is. Ren is pretty much everything you could hope for in a romantic interest. He befriends Lina right away, and proves that he’s a friend anyone would want. He integrates her with his Italian friends so she doesn’t feel so alone in a foreign country and goes out of his way to take Lina on adventures around Italy, making sure to hit all the important places. He’s also integral to helping Lina figure out her mom’s great mystery. He’s not perfect, but he’s cute, friendly, quirky, and a little nerdy, and if you don’t think that’s better than perfect, you’re wrong. Watching him and Lina fumble through their friendship/relationship is charming and endearing, and of course, full of awkward encounters and misunderstandings!
Pretty much every time you open this book, you’re going to want gelato. Also, it feels really good to eat gelato WHILE reading this book. Just try and tell me that’s not a selling point!
Have I convinced you to read Love & Gelato? Or have I missed your favorite thing about the book? Let me know in the comments!