Book & A Brew with Ritu and @LeonieMAuthor A Taste of Italian Sunshine #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks #BookAndABrew

I am so pleased to be on the tour for my friend Leonie Mack’s latest release, A Taste of Italian Sunshine!

And she even joined me for a Book & A Brew, too!

Today, I have a lovely visitor to my Book & A Brew with Ritu segment, and that is Leonie Mack, talking about all things writing and her newest release, A Taste of Italian Sunshine.

Hello, and welcome to But I Smile Anyway, Leonie! Let’s get you set with a drink, first. What would you like?

I can offer you a typical English tea, or, if you fancy a little something different, I can always brew up some masala tea… or a coffee if you please?

Or do we skip the hot drinks and sip some prosecco? I feel that might be more appropriate, given your latest release! I have my usual samosas and pakoras, which might be an interesting combo with the prosecco, or there are always biscuits if you prefer a hot beverage.

If we were in Italy we’d probably be dipping our biscuits in coffee! But prosecco actually pairs very well with well-spiced food, so perhaps we should stick with a little tipple to accompany those samosas and pakoras (how much do I love pakoras by the way!)

I’m loving that idea! (pops a cork…)

Now, I think you and I connected first through Anita Faulkner’s FaceBook group, Chicklit & Prosecco. It’s a wonderful place to chat, isn’t it, and to get support from other authors and romance fans?

Yes, that group is also part of the reason I decided to write a book about the prosecco region of Italy! Writing is sometimes an isolating activity. You spend so much time in your own head, but it’s important to share the journey however we can. Finding people who write similar stories is so important, even if we often don’t live in the same places.

You are so right there. We need our little writerly community, especially for romance, nowadays.

I am amazed, six books in the space of the last three years. It took me eighteen years to write my first book! How have you managed to write so much over the last few years?

I was quite lucky with the timing of my first book contract. We’d not long moved countries, and I’d just settled my daughter into Kindergarten, so I could take some time out from working in the usual sense to kick-start my writing career. I’ve also been very lucky that my publisher Boldwood Books, has done amazing things in the industry and has been very supportive (I’m on my third contract). But I get quite obsessive about my research and writing, and once I’ve got a plot and some characters settled, they tend to pour out and I’ll sit at my laptop day and night until it’s finished (sorry, family!)

You’re lucky to have a supportive family. I do, too, though they don’t always get the other part of the writing and publishing process: the promotion and networking online… It is hard to explain that I am not just browsing Instagram and TikTok, but that I am actually having valuable interactions with like-minded folk and prospective readers of my own book!

So, do you have a favourite out of your book babies?

I love all of my characters for different reasons, but my favourites so far have been this book, Italian Sunshine, and We’ll Always Have Venice. These two were just super fun to write, and the characters kind of wrote themselves. Some characters take longer to become clear to me, and those books are always a bit harder to write.

I agree that if you connect personally with the characters and story, it flows so easily.

I always ask this question. Do you have a special place where you write? An office, writing room/nook, or are you someone who takes their laptop or notebook and pen everywhere, writing wherever you go?

I have written a lot of words on trains over the past few years! I find that, somehow, the best to get the words flowing. I wrote my first few books at a desk either in my bedroom or in the living room (with kids home during lockdowns, that wasn’t always easy). We moved last year, and our new house has a little room that’s supposed to be sort of storage off the kitchen or space for a sewing machine or something (old-fashioned housewife’s room!), but it’s become my office! It’s just big enough for bookshelves, my desk and the dog’s bed.

I love that! A little secret… my writing room wasn’t meant to be mine, either! It was earmarked as my Hubby’s home office, since he works from home more often, and a smaller box room would have been my cubby hole. When we moved in, the internet connection wouldn’t reach upstairs where this room is, and so he had to camp out in the downstairs room, and I nabbed it! It worked out quite well, thought because if he is in there for long periods of time, he has a nice view of the garden, whereas even though I ‘d like to be in here more often, I don’t have a much time, so the lack of windows isn’t a problem for me! It is an attic conversion so there are a couple of velux windows…

I’ve read some of your books (others are on my Kindle waiting to be read!), and there is a heavy focus on other countries, Italy especially. Is there any reason for the Italian fancy?

I love travel in general, so I always included interesting places in my writing, even before anything of mine was published. My first book takes readers to Miami, Mexico and the Caribbean coast of Colombia! After I wrote my second book, Italy Ever After, where my publisher suggested I might want to try writing about somewhere more well-known, the books kind of spawned each other! I had already done a lot of research about northern Italy, so Venice was a logical next choice (so much inspiration there!). The Venice books actually sparked the idea for A Taste of Italian Sunshine. Northern Italy isn’t too far from where I live, in central Germany, and we’ve been down there quite a few times now, so that’s another reason for the northern Italian settings.

Let’s bring it back to your latest Italian offering, A Taste of Italian Sunshine. Did you set this somewhere you visited? I found the descriptions extremely evocative.

This is the only book where I managed a dedicated research trip while I was still drafting. But I live in a wine region, too, so I watch the progress of the vines every day on my dog walks, which helped give this book some context, too. But it’s a fascinating region and is now recognised as UNESCO World Heritage because of the uniqueness of the hills and the way the vines are cultivated there. But yes, I dragged my kids down there with me last year in the school holidays, and we had a fun week hiking in the hills and paddling in the Piave River.

And has the research for the book made you more of a wine expert? Your main character, Jenn, is an expert in all things wine, and I can only imagine that you had to do a bit of tasting yourself to really get into the character.

Yes, there was tasting involved!! I get a little obsessive about everything that goes into my books, so I had a lot of fun reading up on prosecco, the flavour notes and the different ways the bubbles are produced. Reading descriptions of wines is also fascinating – a challenge like writing fiction, in some ways, to help people to imagine a taste. It was a lot of fun.

I can imagine that was fun!

I always ask this, too. What next? Is there a project you are working on now that you could drop some hints about?

I seem to be on a schedule of winter and summer books, so you can guess it’s a winter book coming up next! I’m just emerging from my writing cave on that one and will be going through edits soon. There’s a hint of a family mystery, which was something new for me, but of course, as usual, a heart-stopping romance as well, in a unique and superlative landscape…

That sounds intriguing! Peeps, you heard it here first! Something very interesting coming from Leoni, next!

Thank you so much for visiting me here on my blog, Leoni! We’ll have to do it again, soon!

Thank you for having me. 😊

The Blurb

Jenn has always prided herself on being a city girl – she insists on easy access to good coffee, great food from around the globe, not to mention an easy commute. So, when her job takes her to one of the most famous Italian wine regions in search of the perfect Prosecco, travelling to meetings on a tractor is a bit of a culture shock. Tiziano hates the city.  He was made for the mountains and vineyards of Veneto, and generations of his family have earnt their living from the land. But times are changing even in the Italian countryside, and the arrival of Jenn at his grandmother’s B&B opens up a window on a different world. Jenn has two months to persuade the Prosecco producers to trust her with their business, and Tiziano has one summer to persuade Jenn that there’s more to life than the rat race. But can a city girl and a country boy ever find enough in common to see a future beyond one long summer of sun… Let Leonie Mack magic you away to the vineyards of Veneto for one hot summer in Italy. Perfect for fans of Mandy Baggot, Jo Thomas and Sarah Morgan. ‘This book was very heartwarming, with a great set of characters, all taking place in a wonderful setting – what more could you want from a book…’ ‘This is one of those books where you want to get to the end, but you also don’t want it to end because you know you’re going to miss it when it’s done. A great read.’ ‘Ah, the romance – I really loved every moment, as the two main characters I’d really taken to my heart fought that magnetic pull between them when you really, really wanted them to have their happy ending. This was one of those perfect summer reads, but with a depth and emotion that was particularly satisfying – most definitely one I’d recommend to others.’ ‘A burst of pure joy… It has all the feel-good elements needed for an irresistible romance you can’t help but root for, even though you know the odds aren’t in their favour! ‘Beautifully written, this is a great take on the opposites attract theme.’

Buy it here:

My Review

A Taste of Italian Sunshine by Leonie Mack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jenn is a woman on a mission. Having landed in Italy, she must prove to her boss (and crush) that she has a wealth of knowledge and ‘the nose’ to root out the perfect prosecco for the hotel chain she is working for.
There are several issues, though, including where she has to stay and that her ‘nose’ isn’t all that friendly with bubbles.
Oh, and there is a moody farmer, Tiziano, who keeps popping up wherever she is. A farmer with his own deep-rooted secrets and nightmares.
I loved our Korean heroine, fighting to balance her mother’s expectations for her life and career, as well as navigating certain cultural expectations that kept on popping into her mind at inopportune moments, with her true desires for her life and future, that became clearer as she spent the summer in Veneto, among the farming community and in the bosom of Tiziano’s family.
Lovely arcs for both main characters and fun to read!
I enjoyed this and read it pretty much in one sitting!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for an ARC.

About the Author

Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great international locations and big feelings. She loves a happy ending and shares that love in every book she writes! She is a journalism graduate, a language nut and loves to travel, particularly on foot, by bike and by train. After growing up in Australia and living most of her adult life in London, she now lives in Germany, among the vineyards on the Main river.

Follow Leoni on Social Media!

Instagram: @leoniejmack


TikTok: @leoniejmack

Twitter: @LeonieMAuthor

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Bookbub profile: Leonie Mack Books-BookBub

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Erika
    May 19, 2023 @ 16:39:04

    Congratulations on the new book, Leonie 🎉

    Liked by 1 person


  2. beth
    May 19, 2023 @ 09:13:08

    sounds wonderful and I could use a taste of Italian sunshine about now

    Liked by 1 person


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