A note to Carol Grace and other authors. When you want to write about
a buttoned up, naïve contemporary heroine, please, please stop making
them librarians. And if you must, keep in mind that some of us do
wear colored underpants. Thank you.
Anne Marie Jackson is California librarian who needs to get away. Her
ex-husband is remarrying his younger girlfriend and Anne Marie is
feeling discarded and depressed. In high school she developed a
crush on Giovanni, a charming Italian exchange student. She's always
fantasized about going to Italy, so when she receives an invitation
from Giovanni, she goes for it.
Once in Italy, however, Giovanni proves hard to find. When she is
stood up for their first meeting, Anne Marie catches the eye of Marco
Moretti. He seems to be everywhere Anne Marie is and everywhere
Giovanni is supposed to be. Marco tells Anne Marie he is a travel
guide and offers her his services. What she doesn't know is that
Marco is really a government agent on the trail of Giovanni and a
Of course he suspects that Anne Marie is Giovanni's contact and
partner in crime. That's why he has to stick so close to her. Marco
and Anne Marie travel all over the beautiful Italian countryside on
the trail of Giovanni. Of course the sexual attraction is unbearable
and they both begin falling for one another.
Marco is a typical handsome Italian hero. He's smooth, charming and
perfect, well except for the whole lying through his teeth thing.
He's also dodging pressure from his doting grandmother to settle
down. For some reason he resists love. No particular reason is given
for this, just that he doesn't have time for love or a wife. Not a
very satisfying reason.
Although Anne Marie acts strong, she really isn't. Anne Marie
frequently thinks about how she's going to stand up to Marco, or
whoever, but is too easily convinced otherwise. For example, after
Giovanni blows her off rather rudely, she's still mooning over her
fantasy of him and jumps to his tune several more times. It's just
short of pathetic. She is also annoyingly naïve. It's difficult to
believe that Anne Marie could be so inexperienced at forty-one. But
of course it's because she's a librarian and everyone knows that
librarians are shy and naïve. They wear plain white cotton underwear
and sensible shoes. And they don't have much experience with sex.
That's not the only stereotype in this book. In fact a reader would
be hard pressed to find anything in this book that isn't clichéd.
Italians dance at the drop of a hat, waiters serenade their customers
and everything is clean and romantic. Anne Marie even stomps grapes,
wearing a peasant blouse of course. It's just one big love letter to
The funny thing is, the book ends up working. Perhaps it's because
the author admits up front that she's playing heavily onto the
clichés. At one point Marco admits that his grandmother and cousin
are stereotypes. It's possible that this self-awareness makes the
reader more forgiving of what is otherwise overly sweet and
sentimental. It's also difficult not to be charmed by Grace's lush
descriptions of Italy.
The mystery about the diamond is on the back burner until the very
end of the book when everything winds up rather quickly. I admit to
being stumped for a while about what was going to happen, but when it
became obvious it was very much so, like a two by four to the head.
That's Amore is just as superficial and corny as the song of the same name. Despite that, it's a pleasant escape book, perfect for the
beach or the lunch hour.