"I Do"... Take Two!
I’ve seen Merline Lovelace’s name on bestseller lists for years but never got around to reading her books. But I love contemporary romances with foreign settings and when I saw ”I Do”… Take Two! is set in Italy I jumped at the chance to review it. I found this first in the author’s Three Coins in the Fountain trilogy – and a second chance at love romance – to be a pleasant bit of fluff. While enjoyable, I kept waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop, for some major stumbling block to be put in the hero and heroine’s way, but it never happened. So while a quick easy read, it left me longing for a tiny bit more substance.
Kate Westbrook, a rising star in the financial world, is in Rome with her two best friends Callie and Dawn. For years Kate planned a trip to Italy with her husband Travis, but his top secret Air Force missions always took him away from her and the possibility of a vacation. While proud of her husband’s service in the Air Force, Kate’s worries about the risks Travis took gradually crippled their marriage. The final blow occurred when one of Travis’ fellow officers bragged on Facebook about her relationship with Travis.
Now, while waiting for the divorce papers to be finalized, Kate is finally having an Italian vacation with her friends. But when they go to the Trevi Fountain to toss their coins in the fountain, Kate spots Travis watching them. It turns out Travis is stationed in Italy at the moment and he pleads with Kate for one last chance. Instead of traveling through Italy with Dawn and Callie, he wants Kate to travel around Italy with him. Kate thinks about it, broods on it, and then agrees – she still loves Travis desperately. But Kate puts numerous conditions on the trip such as a regular itinerary (she’s obsessive about planning), and no sex. Thanks to Travis’ friendship with an Italian Prince, Kate, Travis, and by extension their friends – stay in five stars hotels throughout Italy.
All too often I am disappointed with contemporary romances set in foreign countries, often complaining that the romance could have been set anywhere. Not so here. The author’s love of Italy comes shining through, as Kate, Travis, and their assorted friends travel throughout the country, seeing the sites, and enjoying the food and wine. I found myself salivating frequently, wanting to be right there with the characters as they enjoyed one fantastic meal after another. I liked how Kate’s carefully planned itinerary went awry repeatedly, forcing her to be a bit more spontaneous, and allowing us to see more of Italy.
We quickly learn that Travis is just as in love with Kate as she is with him. More importantly, Travis is willing to do just about anything to keep Kate. I found their love for each other completely believable, but thought Travis compromised far more than Kate to make their marriage work.
I assume the next two books in the trilogy will feature Dawn and Callie, although I’m not entirely certain who each of their heroes will be. While I enjoyed the various secondary characters (including the young son of one of Travis’ friends), I would have liked less emphasis on them and a bit more on Travis and Kate in the latter parts of the book.
While I loved the setting, one downside for me is the extensive details about various military jets, operations, and other technical flight terms. I found my eyes glazing over in pages laden with military terms although fortunately, they didn’t overwhelm the book. These technical details – and I’ll trust they’re accurate – make sense given that Ms. Lovelace is a former Air Force officer.
I struggled with assigning a grade, going back and forth between a B- and a C+. “I Do”… Take Two!was a pleasant read, and I’m especially appreciative of the setting. But it felt too much like a group ensemble than a romance. I ended up wanting more of Kate and Travis and less of their friends.