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Italian Summer (Mina's Adventures Book 3) Kindle Edition
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Our feckless heroine is spending the month of June in a condo in her home town of Veneto, Italy, while the professor-owner studies at USC. Mina sees it as a time to spend alone, visiting her beloved Nonna (grandmother)'s crypt, leaving flowers, and strolling the town and marveling over its changes. She is quickly befriended by Emilia, retired attorney and owner of the building, a lady who always wanted to be a divorce attorney, but because divorce was for so long not a legal option in Italy, defended gypsies instead. Mina's heartache over the failures with Brian, and mourning over Diego, continually threaten to overwhelm her, but naturally whereever Mina is, danger and deaths quickly appear. She may be naive, but this young woman is never assured of a secure and peaceful life.
Mina has returned to her grandmother’s village in Italy to a) visit with Grandma’s grave, b) to get over losing Diego, a love interest from book 2 and c) trying to reconnect with her older sister’s past after learning after Paolo’s murder that she was in fact Mina’s mother. She’s staying at a professor’s house while he’s out of town and becomes instantly friendly with the older landlady, Emilia who had been a lawyer and friend of Mina’s grandmother.
The whole mystery comes from Emilia who thinks Lordana Lanza, a former schoolmate of Mina’s murdered her brother Vittorio for the family money. It barely gets investigated in the whole book. The bulk of the book is the return of Diego, who seems to be a spy or something like it. He’s looking for a woman he’s known, Alex, whose cross Mina now has via Emilia who got it from a gypsy client. (yeah huge coincidence there).
We have tons of Mina angsting about her sister/mother’s death (understandable), whining about how neither California or Italy feels like home, whining endlessly about how much she loves Diego but can’t handle his job what keeps taking him away from her, and Mina’s ridiculous level of jealousy as she leaps to conclusions about what Alex means to Diego the moment she learns Alex is female. She’s even jealous of Emilia and mistrustful on one page and friendly on the other (to the point both she and Emilia comment on it).
I liked Emilia and her cat, Fufa. I wish I could say this truly had an Italian feel but other than the Italian phrases, I wouldn’t have known I was meant to be in Italy. It fails to set that scene. Maybe I felt let down because I am not a fan of romantic suspense and you can’t call it a mystery when there’s no investigation and the killer is exactly who you were told it was from the moment it was first mentioned.
The author has made Mina a refreshingly realistic young woman. Not a silly, kick-ass, one-dimensional character favored by so many publishers these days, Mina is a young woman who has yet to find her place in life. She is moderately educated, foreign to many American ways, gullible, and has a wonderful sense of the ridiculous.
Mina's humor is real plus to this traditionally written, third-person narrated, clean (cozy) murder-mystery series. Her unpredictable reactions bring a spontaneity to the story, keeping us guessing about what will happen next, and what Mina will do or say next.
I have read, and enjoyed, all three books in The Mina's Adventures Series.
Italian Summer - Book Three
The author quickly brings the reader up to speed with the events of the previous books in the series, so I would advise readers to read the books in sequence, to avoid spoilers.
Two years after then end of the previous book, Mina returns to her native Italy for a summer vacation. Not having been there, in the Veneto region, since she was sixteen, Mina must rediscover many facets of Italy's culture all over again, or for the first time, as an adult.
After her many adventures in the first two books in the series, Mina's naturally boisterous character has been subdued. She is shyer, more reserved than before, and something of a loner. Her few loyal friends in The States are often on her mind, her anchor to the tenuous life she has built for herself in America.
Mina is also painfully, dangerously insecure now. Her insecurity and inexperience with men gave me my biggest upset while reading Italian Summer. Her credulity and her un-safe sex habits had me cringing.
Small town life in northern Italy is not a good fit for Mina, a young woman who is by now more American than Italian. She goes about casually dressed, talking to strangers, accepting dates with near strangers, and not understanding even the basics like how to do her shopping.
The author gives Mina a mother-figure in Italian Summer, who is a lovely addition to the story, and who gives Mina a chance to learn a bit more about her own past.
The story is wrapped up at the end, and Mina returns to California. The next adventure for Mina Calvi is in the works, and the author hopes to have it published before the end of 2014.
See my full illustrated review at Italophile Book Reviews.