Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

“I made the wrong choice”

Love & GelatoLina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

4 Stars

Do you like travel and adventure? Are you practically salivating at the thought of spaghetti and meat balls? How do you feel about Italian guys???

If you answered hell yeah to any of those questions than do I have news for you… Say hello to your new favorite Rom-Com; Love & Gelato! A surprisingly emotional story about self-discovery, Love & Gelato explores family, food and grief against the backdrop of Florence Italy.

Lina Emerson is having a tough time. After her mother’s premature death, Lina is forced to leave her life behind in exchange for the rolling Tuscan landscape and a father she’s never met. Heart broken and still coming to terms with her grief, Lina’s pretty much resigned to her fate. But everything changes when she’s given a journal – her mother’s. Suddenly Lina’s lonely summer abroad becomes an emotional journey to piece together the past and discover a truth long since buried.  

The first thing I have to talk about when it comes to Love & Gelato is its exceptional use of setting. And boy do we have a good one. I mean, it basically ticks all the boxes. Girl abroad? Check. Wanderlust and adventure? Check. A helping of Renaissance architecture and iconic sights? You bet.

Jenna Evans Welch spent two years living in Italy and it shows. The way she writes Florence in Love & Gelato is beautifully detailed and very well informed. I felt like I was right there, trotting across Florence with Lina and Ren; climbing the Duomo, dancing across Ponte Vecchio and screaming on the back on Ren’s bike. It’s evident that Jenna fell in love with Italy and her passion bleeds into every page. All I’m saying is that I feel like I had a first class ticket to explore every facet, all without leaving the comfort of my room.

That and the fact that I may or may not have fallen in love with Italy myself. Why is Australia so dang isolated??? Can I just have a ticket to travel the world? Please???

And the food!!! Can somebody just hand me a bowl of pasta and a slice of pizza already???

The second aspect I loved about Love & Gelato is the journal itself. Throughout the book, Hadley Emerson’s diary entries are scattered, often paralleled with Lina’s own experiences. Unpopular opinion alert: I actually loved Hadley’s adventures more than Lina’s??? I got major Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again vibes. Hadley reminded me so much of a young Donna and is exactly the person I aspire to be. Hadley is adventurous; she’s brave and she’s passionate. I honestly could have read an entire book detailing her life abroad.

That’s not to say that I didn’t love Lina – because I did.

When we first meet Lina she’s grieving her mother’s death – she’s completely broken. And she’s bound for an awkward situation. I seriously don’t think I could have handled the sea change like she did. Lina takes everything in stride – she may not be happy about it but she puts on a brave face. She goes out, she makes friends – she tries. I hope I could be as brave as Lina if I needed to be.

But Lina isn’t without her flaws; brave she might be, but Lina is also rash and impulsive. She is perfectly capable of getting herself into tough situations. You know what they say about curiosity…

And there’s a splash of summer romance!

All I’m saying is that Lorenzo is exactly what Italian dreams are made of. Paolo who???

Basically if you love girl abroad romances with family angst and adventure than Love & Gelato is the book for you. Was it adorable and fluffy? Yes. Did I predict almost every major plot point? Yes. Did I love it? You bet your ass I did. Best enjoyed with a summer sky and a cone of gelato.

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