Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Release Day Review: To Tuscany with Love by Gail Mencini #GailMencini

Paperback, $16.95; eBook, $3.99
ISBN: 978-1-938592-00-3
Fiction/Women’s Fiction, 392 pages
Capriole Group, January 2014

Can one college semester abroad change the course of your life?

Bella Rossini, a vivacious college junior, lands in jail overnight with acquaintances whom she mistakes for friends. Shipped off to Tuscany by her mother, Bella is suddenly thrust into living with seven strangers during one life-altering summer. 

Meet Hope, the sturdy and practical girl, steadfast in her loyalty to her boyfriend; Meghan and Karen, identical twins with an eye for fashion and beauty to match; Stillman, haunted by his hard past, and Phillip, an athlete, both fueled by competition; Lee, by family mandate in pre-med; and Rune, the Hollywood-bound wild child. All add sizzling chemistry and rebellious humor to the mix. 

In one whirlwind summer, while uncovering the charms of Italy, they discover both friendship and love.

After their summer together, life – and loss – happens. 

Returning to Tuscany 30 years later, their dreams, anger, secrets and disappointments create an emotional kaleidoscope. Their reunion sends them on a startling collision course that none of them could have predicted.

Set against the allure of Tuscany, with an irresistible fusion of heartbreak and humor, this debut novel, “To Tuscany with Love,” explores the fear of letting the past determine the future and the power of friendship.

Marissa Curnutte


Author Gail Mencini makes debut in January 2014 with ‘To Tuscany with Love’

DENVER, Colo. – Experience the breathtaking beauty of the Italian countryside through Gail Mencini’s debut novel “To Tuscany with Love” (January 2014, Capriole Group).

Inspired by a family friend’s trip to Tuscany for a college reunion, Mencini introduces readers to eight very different students who meet while studying abroad during a life-changing summer semester. They reunite 30 years later only to discover lingering emotions, the need to address the fear of letting the past dictate the future, and the power of friendship.

“What entices me about college reunions, especially those that happen several years after graduation, is that I imagine people going through life with a suitcase,” Mencini says. “By the time a person is in ‘those middle years,’ their suitcase is full of successes, failures, secrets, regrets, and unfulfilled dreams. It is a fascinating time to bring people back together again.”

In this heartbreaking and humorous romp through central Italy, the author breathes life into the book’s pages with eloquent descriptions of cities and hillside towns as well as the region’s local wine and cuisine. Mencini personally visited the historical and cultural landmarks detailed in “To Tuscany with Love” in order to capture the flavor of the area with authenticity.

As a breast cancer survivor, Mencini writes the life-threatening disease into her novel in an effort to encourage other women to do a self-breast exam or get an annual screening mammogram.

Mencini writes and cooks with her husband and family in Colorado. She is fascinated by all things Italy, especially the food and wine.


I have always dreamed of visiting Tuscany, and Mencini's stunning debut made that dream come true. I got to experience the adventure, romance, and beautiful history and culture of this amazing region through the eyes of eight fabulous characters who each now own a piece of my heart.

Not only was I drawn to this story because of the location, but I'm in love with love and romance, and this book had plenty to offer. I really enjoyed the multiple POVs. It was exciting to get into the mind of each character, even player, Rune. I was immediately drawn to Stillman. He was sweet and humble, but had a fun and somewhat wicked side. The love triangle between Bella, Stillman and Phillip wasn't the norm, and I liked that Bella was the one who had all, well most, of the say in it. The boys kept her on her toes, but she had fun with each of them and I could see why she was so drawn to them. I have to admit though that if I were Bella, I would have chosen differently, even in the end.

This book offered so much in the way of romance, but it was also a coming of age story that made me question my own life and the path I was on. Each character grew to be so different from what I was expecting, and it made me think about how our actions and their consequences shape our future. But this book wasn't all hearts and kisses. It had it's sombre, hard-hitting moments. Those times when the unexpected crept in and reality took over. 

This book was about friendship, loyalty, betrayal, love and lust. It was an enthralling read that kept me wanting more. If you are looking to be swept away on a romantic adventure this book is the one for you.


Gail Mencini makes her literary debut with “To Tuscany with Love” (January 2014, Capriole Group) an adult coming-of-age novel set in central Italy.

Born in rural Nebraska, Mencini graduated with honors in 1976 from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she majored in accounting, economics and business administration. She holds a Master of Laws of Taxation degree from the University of Denver College of Law.

Mencini co-owned an accounting firm and practiced for 15 years in public accounting, specializing in tax law related to   mergers and acquisitions and real estate. She also spent time in the higher education field, working as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and Metro State College, as well as the University of Denver College of Law. She was a repeat  speaker at national continuing education seminars and a featured presenter in a real estate conference in the Caribbean.

In 1990 when she married her husband, Mencini became an “instant mother” of three boys plus another son two years later, which opened the doors to becoming a full-time mother and igniting  her long-time passion for creative arts, gourmet cooking and traveling.

She went on to become a contributing editor and photojournalist for Buzz in the ‘Burbs, writing monthly cooking columns featuring dinner themes, recipes and complementary wine suggestions. She also served as interim director of marketing for Wine Master Cellars as the company transitioned to new leadership. She has been a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for nearly 20 years as well as the Pikes Peak Writers for over 10. She most recently joined Author U based in Aurora, Colo.

She writes and cooks  in  Denver, Colorado, with her husband and family who are always ready to critique her abundance of story ideas and recipes.

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