“This is standard shotgun wedding procedure.” I faced Mrs. Briggs and continued. “But ours isn’t one, actually. No pregnancy. No shotgun. Just a croissant and too much coffee.” —Emily Price, protagonist
Art, literature, and fine Italian cuisine mingle in Katherine Reay’s most recent masterpiece A Portrait of Emily Price. Subtlety is Reay’s specialty and one of the reasons I believe Emily’s story will appeal to mainstream romance readers. Unless familiar with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a reader may not recognize this book as Christian fiction from the outset. Initially, I felt the deeper messages were reserved for the latter 2/3rds of the book, after Emily and Ben had reached Italy. However, upon a second reading, I was able to pick up more of the bread crumbs Reay lays down and noticed how they were aimed at defining joy. As Ben expresses so simply when he says, “…joy isn’t a feeling, it’s a truth.” Still, my heart was most captivated by the art restoration project Emily undertakes. As the hidden work emerges, so do the family’s long held secrets. Ben’s big Catholic family, Emily, and the reader all walk away with an unforgettable lesson about grace.
I received this book free of charge from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
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About the Book
Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. When Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family, however, is another matter . . .
Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—finds herself in Atlanta, repairing objects damaged in a house fire. As she works to restore the home and dreams of one family, she strives to keep the pieces of her own life in perfect order and secure her own happy ending—a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.
But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to reconnect with his brother and breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccolo. And soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.
Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. Upon landing in Rome, she is enchanted with Italy. But instead of allowing the land, culture and people to transform her, Emily imposes her will upon everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.
Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?
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