Moonlight in Tuscany is a Goldilocks story of a woman who, after three tries, finds the love of her life. Along the way, she also develops to her emotional, professional and sexual peak. There are many titillating sex scenes, but the author includes nothing vulgar or explicit.
This is a novel that would appeal most to so-called new adult women, giving them a vicarious experience with three lovers and some idea of what to expect when looking for a mate who will fit well with a modern professional woman's lifestyle.
I'm not a new adult, so my review may be a bit skewed for many potential readers. As a mature woman, I found that the relationships Lily had during the course of the story brought back too many bittersweet, and sometimes outright painful, memories from my own relationships. That limited my enjoyment of the book.
Dr. Lily Fairfax, a Cambridge University scholar of medieval Italian history (which brings her to Italy in the course of the book), is the protagonist. She's a Titian beauty with golden-red hair, and intellectual who hides from her emotions by intellectualizing her experiences. She finds it a struggle to:
...enter real life, not escape into fiction or history...
The third person limited narration puts us deep into Lily's thoughts. Sometimes I found that a bit stifling, because I didn't always like Lily's thoughts. She's quietly confident to outsiders, but inside her head that can seem like arrogance and selfishness. That style of narration is one that many readers have come to expect these days, especially the target reader of female new adults.
Lily can be a struggle to like at times. She is almost too perfect, with her only seeming flaws being jealousy and intellectual arrogance. She is gorgeous, successful, smart, confident, with a loving parent, and she's sexy.
The last trait is one that develops during the course of the book as she becomes more comfortable with her sexual nature. I suppose if a reader is going to fantasize along with the protagonist, she would like to imagine herself so perfect too, so the protagonist fits well with the book's overall concept of new adult fantasy.
The readers follows Lily as she:
entered a new lightweight world of fun
Lily's lightweight world of fun turns serious when she starts breaking hearts. That is when a mature female character is brought into the story to dish out this advice:
You're a beautiful woman, bellissima, you are certain to break many hearts before you find the right one.
The woman offers Lily a shoulder to cry on, and someone to confide in, especially when she is suffering the painful feeling of loss that comes with the end of a relationship. The woman also offers the unrealistic idea that:
Somewhere out there would be a man that would be everything she desired.
That lack of realism that recurs throughout the book gives it a strong fantasy feeling. Even the author admits it through her characters who reflect that their love story is like a sweet film romance that is too good to be true. Yes, the final lover is too good to be true, but that is part of the fantasy fun for the reader.
On a serious note, I missed a mention of safe birth control, since the lifestyle the book describes for modern woman is not possible with out it, and because in a book for new adults it is responsible to mention it.
Lily is quite open to flings, and that sort of lifestyle brings with it dangers not just of unintended pregnancy, but of disease and violence from putting oneself in an intimate situation with a stranger. None of those things are even hinted at in the book, despite Lily feeling:
It's as though I am in the real world at last.
All of that makes me consider the book more of a fantasy story, than a character study or a novel about a woman developing her knowledge of herself. The Goldilocks three lovers adds to the fantasy feeling, too.
In the back of my mature female mind, however, I had my doubts about Lily's final, perfect partner, but I'll keep them to myself, to leave the younger reader a chance to discover those things on her own. Not everything a new adult needs to know can be found in a novel!
From the book's description:
Clever Doctor Lily Fairfax is the youngest don at Cambridge... beautiful, too. But does she understand the meaning of love? Leaving her sheltered academic life for a long summer in Tuscany, she finds passion... but is this love or lust? Can it endure? Can she give up everything she has worked for and achieved for a new and different life? Intelligent enough to analyse her own psyche, she still struggles to find the reality that her inner soul is searching for... the complete happiness that only true love can give?
Here is a direct link to the book at Amazon.com:
The author has another new adult romance set in Tuscany, which I've reviewed on this site: Dreams of Tuscany. And she has several romances set in Provence, France. Please visit her Amazon.com author's page.