Blog Tour: Under a Tuscan Sky by Karen Aldous
A summer she’ll never forget…
When Olivia Montague’s grandmother passes away, she decides it’s finally time to make some changes in her own life. So she breaks up with her ‘going nowhere’ boyfriend and embarks on a journey to her Nonna’s home in Tuscany.
Until now, Olivia has always believed that she’s incapable of love, after being abandoned by her parents as a baby. But with each day spent at the gorgeous villa nestled in the rolling Italian hills, she feels her heart begin to flutter…
And when handsome antiques dealer Hugh St. James arrives on the scene, she realises things might be about to change forever!
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In extremely high spirits, thinking of the gorgeous Alberto, Olivia’s self-esteem had swelled to top level in just a few hours, even aiding her with her rusty driving skills. Apart from negotiating the first roundabout, she almost forgot was on foreign roads. She followed the satnav instructions with a new-found confidence, catching glimpses of the undulating hills and vined landscape as she drove along the Tuscan motorway and to the village for supplies first.
Soon back on the winding roads and climbing round tight bends, it was only when she reached the grounds of Villa Elena that it dawned. It was possible that she was in love, or lust at least. She had felt Alberto’s presence beside her for the whole car journey and she felt elated. Olivia Montague may have found the man of her dreams.
Following the driveway, she entered the gravel parking area in front of the villa, spotting the familiar figure of Nico, the farm manager, speaking to one of the groundsmen. The groundsman held a Strimmer in one hand and a set of earphones with the other. Nico waved and headed towards her car.
‘Ciao. Welcome again, Olivia. You have bags?’
‘Thank you, yes in the boot.’ She stepped out of the car and pressed the fob to open the boot, then reached across to collect her hand luggage from the passenger seat. Peering up at the villa, she sighed at its towering strength.
It was a farmhouse really, but for some reason earned the title of villa. Three storeys high, built of local stone, and nestling so fittingly within its own hamlet of medieval cottages and farm buildings – now renovated for agritourism – among the sprawling vineyards and olive groves. It was a sight to behold and one she had barely appreciated in her youth. She loved the farm as a child, loved being able to run as wild as any beast, and enjoyed her time helping out.
Now it appeared so organized and formal compared to the ruggedness she remembered as a child. Still stunning but in a different way. Nonna had secured grants to renovate and elevate the accommodation, which now drew in the tourists, the complex reorganized and kept to much higher standards.
It was only the separate house – the villa, her grandparents’ home – which for some reason hadn’t yet been renovated. It had been maintained but suffered neglect compared to the complex and, yet, had so much potential if funds allowed.
After kissing him on both cheeks, she smiled at Nico who was standing in front of the vines. ‘Lovely to see you again, Nico. Have you harvested the vines?’
‘You look – you see the fruit?’
Olivia gazed more closely at the vines between the buildings, unable to make out the details. ‘I’ll take a look.’
‘Yes, we harvest two days ago.’ Nico shook his head. ‘Come. Gabriella make you something to eat first.’
As they entered the main courtyard, Gabriella, with combed-back grey hair and wearing a navy trouser suit, walked towards them, the ruddiness in her face immediately warming. ‘Olivia, so happy to see you. How was your journey?’
‘Good thank you and, as you ask, quite different to the usual actually. I seem to have made a new acquaintance. A very charming Italian man who is keen to show me around Tuscany.’
Gabriella’s kind eyes smiled and she reached out to hug her. ‘How very romantic. You go with him?’
‘I think I might call him.’ Blinking at her instinctive response, Olivia kissed Gabriella’s cheeks and wrapped her arms around her. ‘You look well. How is business?’
‘Is quieter now of course but we have a small party of artists. How are you?’ Gabriella ushered her towards the table overlooking vines drenched in afternoon sun.
‘Very well. I should be asking you. I expect you miss Nonna greatly?’
Unwrapping a platter of assorted bruschetta, Gabriella’s lips tightened. ‘Very much I miss Elena. The farm is not the same. She was a very good friend to me.’ She bit her lip, then wiped an eye. ‘Your nonna’s wish would be for you to continue for her at the farm.’
Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!
Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and the USA would be her favourites. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in ‚Karen’s World‘. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives – but struggle to control them! And, of course there’s always a gorgeous hunk or two! Find her on Twitter and her Website