Summary: A gorgeous young Italian, with nowhere to go . . .
His name just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci. When he walks into Ramona Elise's English class, he's a twenty-five-year-old immigrant, struggling to forge a new life in America - but he's lonely, has nowhere to live, and barely speaks English . . .
She knows she shouldn't take him home . . .
Picking up the pieces of her life after the death of her beloved husband, linguist and teacher Ramona Elise can't help but be charmed by her gorgeous new student. And when he calls her "Mona Lisa" she just about loses her heart . . . -- Sourcebooks
Every once in awhile, I like to pick up a light, fun read. DATING DA VINCI by Malena Lott was the perfect choice because it's basically a romance, chick lit book for women in their 30s! I thought the premise sounded kind of cute -- a young widow and mother of two "gets her groove back." And when I saw Jenny Gardiner's, author of SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, ringing endorsement on the back cover, I pretty much knew that I'd like this book.
This book was definitely a pleasure to read. I couldn't help but feel sympathy for Ramona -- she is about my age and a mother of two when she suddenly loses her husband. As I read this book, I could really relate to Ramona and her grief. I can't imagine how I'd ever move on if I were in her situation (I know you have to for the kids' sake.) While the subject matter of this book could have been very depressing, this book was ultimately very uplifting. I really appreciated was how the author was able to incorporate so much humor into the pages of this book and provide a happily ever after ending.
The characters in the book were terrific, especially Ramona; however, I also really liked her best friend Anh. She was the ideal friend for Ramona and often times, she provided just what Ramona needed. I also thought Ramona's "perfect" sister was a hoot! Of course, I couldn't help but be captivated by Leo in much the same way that Ramona was. It was so refreshing to read a novel where a mature woman was able to rediscover herself and her needs with a little help from a younger man!
Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel was how the author incorporated Ramona's occupation as a linguist into the story. Not only did Ramona meet Leo as a result of teaching English to foreign students, but I thought the author did a great job of weaving word meanings and the "language of love" into the storyline. She even had the family play Scrabble (the all-time best word game) as a way of being together. I loved reading Ramona's body language interpretations, and I thought it was so cute how the author used Ramona's name as a play on words -- Ramona Elise/Mona Lisa.
After enjoying DATING DA VINCI so much, I'd definitely like to read Malena Lott's other novel, THE STORK REALITY. I was very impressed with her ability to tell Ramona's story, and I thought she did a wonderful job of expressing Ramona's feelings about the sudden death of her husband and the grief that followed. Ms. Lott has an awesome (and fun) website that you should visit. Once you are there, you can learn more about Ms. Lott's books, listen to a few of her favorite recipes, read her blog, and even enter some awesome contests (I did.)
If your club is looking for a lighter read around the holidays, you might want to consider DATING DA VINCI. It's an uplifting book about starting over and second chances. And, I liked that it shows how a woman in her 30s and a mother of two can still manage to find love. There are numerous themes to discuss including "the grieving process, May-December romances, second chances, Heaven, soul mates, and family dynamics." Ms. Lott will even send you the discussion questions if you contact her. You can read an excerpt here.
Make sure you come back tomorrow because Ms. Lott will be stopping by with a terrific guest post!