Today on Romance Month we have Mandi Benet, her book To Rome With Love is out TODAY!! I have my copy already 🙂 It sounds so good and her ultimate Valentine’s date sounds amazing!
Yes, I know George Clooney chose Venice. But to my mind, there are few more romantic cities in Italy, let alone the world, than Rome. With its gorgeous vistas, historic piazzas, and the general ardor of the locals, Rome is one huge, unending backdrop for romance. And particularly on Valentine’s Day.
So, for some Rome-ance in Rome, I’d plan a combination of any of the following jaunts:
- A late-afternoon boat row across Villa Borghese’s idyllic lake
- An early evening visit to one of the city’s most tranquil and least known romantic spots: the Temple of Venus and Roma, located on the Velian Hill and built by the Emperor Hadrian.
- Some lip locking in the lingering glow after sunset at the Pincio Gardens with its elaborate terraced gardens of the gourmand Lucullus, who held legendary banquets there. Check out the marble busts of Italian heroes and artists that line the pathways and, from the balustraded terrace, catch a view of Piazza del Popolo.
- An aperitivo at the gorgeous Terrace Bramante bar at Hotel Raphael, overlooking Rome’s famous Piazza Navona with views of the Vatican and the surrounding colorful rooftops.
- A stroll at dark across the Ponte Sant’Angelo with Bernini’s bewitching angels.
- More smooching at Rome’s premier make out spot, the Gianicolo hill.
- Dinner at Casina Valadier, a magnificently decorated Neoclassical building on the Pincio Hill and one of Rome’s most historic restaurants.
Title of Book: To Rome With Love. (Book 1 of Love in the City series)
Author: Mandi Benet
Release Day: Feb. 10, 2016 (TODAY!!!!!!)
Tagline: Big City, Big Love, Happy Endings
When Gaby Conte’s Italian husband, Danieli, abandons her for a young Peruvian waitress at a restaurant they co-own in San Francisco, Gaby seeks refuge in Rome with her best friend Maria. There, she swears off romance for a long while and Italian men forever. That’s until she meets Silvio, who belongs to an old, aristocratic Roman family and lives in a palace alongside the best private art collection in Rome. Silvio, who is the cousin of Maria’s husband, is going through his own divorce. He’s gorgeous, of course, which Gaby doesn’t tell him. And arrogant and condescending, which she does. The last thing Gaby needs is more Italian trouble, but the attraction is instant and powerful, and against the backdrop of one of the world’s most romantic cities, both try—and fail—to resist the chemistry between them. But both Gaby and Silvio have made a rule never to make the mistake of trusting in love again. Will they realize some rules are made just to be broken?
Excerpt Number One
“I have a surprise for you.”
Gaby’s eyebrows slammed together at her best friend Maria’s words. She didn’t like surprises. Maybe because she’d had so many of them, lately. Mostly of the nasty kind. Surprises like her husband Danieli telling her he was divorcing her to marry Angelica, a twenty-four-year-old Peruvian waitress at the San Francisco restaurant he and Gaby co-owned. A woman with the body fat of a Sony Ericsson flip phone, who filled the saltcellars with sugar and routinely dropped trays of expensive wine, but was, miraculously, never too tired for sex. Or at least that’s what Danieli had said.
Surprises like the restaurant’s maître d’ breathlessly confiding to Gaby that Angelica’s sexual exploits had earned her the moniker, “The Lima Lay,” and that said “Lima Lay” could suck a melon through a garden hose. (Gaby hadn’t cried that much since Princess Diana died.)
Maria herself had sprung something of a surprise on her, too, though, thankfully not of the nasty kind. More like the mind-blowing kind. Barely an hour earlier, her friend had picked Gaby up at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and instead of taking her to a nice flat with a nice view, had transported her to a block-long, 16th century Renaissance limestone palace on Via del Corso that popes and princes had called home. It boasted enough sumptuous furnishings, masterpiece art, and priceless antiques to make the White House look like Applebee’s—and made Gaby very nervous she’d spill Chianti everywhere. And let’s not forget the surprise of walking into what turned out to be the ancestral home of Maria’s uber-wealthy new husband, Carlo Pierangeli, through its vast, silent, cloistered courtyard and up a frescoed stone staircase to the piano nobile, only to discover it overlooked the Colosseum. That’s right. ThatColosseum.
So, yes, even though Gaby knew the palace might just be the perfect place to heal from the humiliation of her divorce, her head was fairly whirling with all the surprises, and she honestly didn’t think she had the strength for any more. “I don’t like surprises.”
“You’ll like this one.” Maria pulverized basil, pine nuts, and generous helpings of olive oil to make pesto and then started sautéing some small chicken breasts for dinner. Gaby wasn’t hungry, but in Italy it was a crime not to eat, particularly if your hostess was cooking.
Maria fixed her gaze on Gaby, her celadon eyes filled with sympathy. “Carissima amica,” she chided her gently. “You’re almost divorced now and it’s time to meet someone new. And I have just the candidate.”
Gaby set her glass firmly down. “Now, Maria . . .”
Maria lifted her hand like a traffic cop. “I know what you’re going to say, but—”
Just then, there was an insistent rapping on the door of the apartment.
“Scusi.” Maria deposited her glass on the counter and walked to the foyer.
Gaby heard her unlock the door and say, “Caro,” and then a man’s voice speaking rapid Italian. His tone was firm but low and Gaby couldn’t make out what he was saying.
“I’m making pasta. Why don’t you come eat with us?” Maria asked in Italian.
Curious, Gaby opened the elegant paneled doors several inches and poked her head out. In the doorway was a tall man with a swath of silky dark hair that looked as if it had been styled by the fashion gods at L’Uomo Vogue, and a face finely carved by the angels. He looked like a first-century sculpture, lean and sleek, all muscle and sinew, and his fitted lavender shirt set off his bronzed skin and hinted at the kind of muscled biceps and washboard abs to make a woman weep. Only the most supremely confident man could wear lavender. And jeans that snug.
Gaby’s stomach tumbled to her toes. Not too many men caught her attention and it was still always a shock for her when one did. Was this Maria’s surprise? Noticing her suddenly, the man stopped talking and turned toward her, his eyes pinning her in place from twenty feet away. She tried not to stare, but it wasn’t easy. A girl could hang coats from those cheekbones.
EXCERPT NUMBER 2
Silvio pivoted to toss the tissue into the garbage, and then turned back. He stood rooted in place, watching her. Gaby shivered. Waited. Waited some more. She knew she should run but she couldn’t move. She felt locked to that room. Locked to this man.
He stretched out his hand and stroked her cheek softly with his thumb. Goose bumps immediately broke out on her arms. He saw them and smiled, quirking an eyebrow at her in amusement. Her skin felt feverish now, and she could feel moisture settle between her breasts.
Silvio ran his knuckles along her jawline, gently caressing her skin, and then moved to her lips, lips she hadn’t much thought about until now, until he touched them, until he made them burn. With one finger, he traced their outline, dipping in and out of the perfect Cupid’s bow that crowned them, and then sweeping along the seam.
His own lips parted and he stared into her eyes. Was he asking for permission? She couldn’t give it to him. Her mouth was as dry as a crouton and her brain wasn’t working too well.
The air around them pulsed and thickened and Gaby stood as still as a hot summer noon, her heart slowing to thick, solid beats. The banked fire in his gaze sent electrical charges zipping through her, and she felt desire spring crazily within her. She didn’t even like this guy, right? But she saw the lust in his eyes and wanted more. Maybe it was the heat, or too much Chianti the day before, or the fact that Rome exuded a widescreen romance impossible to resist, but only a thin slice of air separated them and, suddenly, she couldn’t wait for Silvio to breach it. She could feel his breath warm on her temple, see his nostrils flare wide, feel him ready to pounce like a lion spotting a limp. She closed her eyes in readiness and before she knew it, he had bent toward her and crushed her mouth to his.
Mandi Benet grew up in England and published her first piece of fiction when she was twelve. She has been scribbling away ever since as an award-winning journalist— covering everything from the Democratic Convention to the Oscars for major American national newspapers and magazines— and as an author, writing sexy women’s fiction and contemporary romance with rich, original characters. Mandi is a member of RWA National and the San Francisco branch of RWA.
To Rome With Love | Release, February 10, 2016 | http://amzn.com/B01AO6MH96