Thursday, November 2, 2023

Book Review: Change of Heart

By Sara Steven

When cutbacks force Alice out of her assistant manager role at a Devonshire stately home, she turns her sights the picturesque hills above the historic city of Parma. An aristocratic Italian family are looking to open their medieval castle to the public, and Alice is just the woman for the job.

Four years ago, a life-changing accident pushed Alice into depression, but the beauty and charm of the Italian countryside works its magic in brightening her days. Especially when she keeps bumping into handsome Luca … But rivalries run deep in the town, and Alice’s work – not to mention her potential love life – are caught in the middle of a long-standing feud between two families.

With her job and future happiness in peril, can Alice save the future of the castle, and bring two warring families together? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Many of us say that we’d love to pitch it all and move to an exotic location, but due to logistics, that might never happen. Through T.A. Williams and his characters, it gives us all a chance to live vicariously. Change of Heart is a unique storyline that features a medieval castle that needs to be brought up to code, the perfect job for Alice. The minute details made me feel as though I was right there with her as she sifted through centuries-old memorabilia, uncovering unique treasures and hidden family secrets, particularly for those who currently inhabit the castle. 

Alice has a secret of her own. From the get go, she has felt drawn to Luca, later discovering how forbidden any sort of a relationship with him might be. In some ways, and it’s even mentioned in the book, the rivalry between the family who is tied to the castle, and Luca’s family, could be equated to that of Romeo and Juliet, but (hopefully) without any death–quips Alice. It sounds serious, but given how the rivalry is well known through the surrounding towns, it could be a huge stumbling block for Alice, not only for her love life, but for her professional life as well. 

As with every Williams book, there is a loveable Labrador that accompanies one of the characters, in this case, Luca and his dog, Frank. It was hard to imagine any sort of budding romance without Frank and his sweetness to provide a nice amount of levity to situations which at times could feel heavy with trepidation and concern. Alice just wants to do her job, and do it well. Luca is a part of that equation. Work and romance don’t always blend well together, especially when there are outside forces that are trying to stand in the way of that. But Frank smoothed out those rough patches. 

Change of Heart was aptly titled. For Alice, it’s all about change. She’s had to navigate through so many changes in her life in recent years–physically, emotionally, work-related, romantically. It seems leaving Devonshire for Parma might just be the type of change she needs the most, in order to find herself again. It was a well-deserved five-star read.

As a side note–my husband and I are planning on potentially traveling next year and I’m thinking about going through the several books I’ve read by T.A. Williams and using some of those plot point locations as a guide to the destinations we’d like to visit! Parma will definitely be added to the list.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only ten years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels and I now also write cozy crime, but my first love has always been romance. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations and descriptions of food to make you drool.

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