Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
Received from Netgalley for review
Violet, an art student in London, has always just accepted the fact that she looks nothing like her Scandinavian supermodel mother or her Scottish father. Her dark complexion and curves are puzzling, but she has never broached the issue with her parents. When she finds herself staring at the spitting image of herself in an art gallery portrait, her curiosity is piqued. Little is known about girl in the portrait, except that it is from a small Tuscan Villa. Inspired by the painting, curious about her heritage, and needed a break from her clingy mum, Violet enrolls in an Italian language summer abroad course. There are three other girls in the class, another Brit and two Americans. The girls are eager to enjoy the gorgeous locale, swoon-worthy boys, and a care-free Italian lifestyle, but life in Italy isn’t as easy as they hoped and for Violet, the mystery she came to solve turns dangerous.
I was expecting a light, flirty romance with a hint of mystery. Instead, I got a Mean Girls-go-to-Italy-and-obsess-about-clothes-and-body-image-and-compete-over boys. I loved the descriptions of the landscape and Italian lifestyle. Beyond that, little else even made sense. It was as if the second Violet arrived in Italy, the purpose of her trip and the mysterious portrait were forgotten. This plot line was abandoned for the majority if the book, only to reemerge as a strange afterthought at the end. Nothing really happened in the book and I was quite annoyed by the revelation at the end that the story would continue in a sequel. A few fun chapters throughout the book and a hilarious donkey do not redeem the book as a whole. I was disappointed, but I do plan to try Henderson’s Scarlett Wakefield series.
Read instead: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, and the Summer series by Jenny Han. For a great mystery, try The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Clarity by Kim Harrington, or Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey