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Authors: Elizabeth Adler

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Suspense

Summer in Tuscany

BOOK: Summer in Tuscany
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Praise for the Enchanting Novels of Bestselling Author Elizabeth Adler

Summer in Tuscany

“The beauty and rich culture of Tuscany form a wonderfully romantic and compelling backdrop for this delightful novel. Ms. Adler’s characters are complex and riveting, making this another must-read novel.”


Romantic Times

“Adler is superlative at making readers feel they know her characters…
Tuscany
offers satisfying summer reading.”


Brazosport Facts

The Last Time I Saw Paris

“A wonderful voyage depicting one woman’s struggle to regain her sense of self-worth and identity…Adler always excels at bringing vivid and lifelike characters into being.”


Romantic Times

“The popular Adler gets the dynamics of a new relationship pitch-perfect…But it’s the detailed, realistic description of the trip to France…that makes her latest great vicarious vacation reading.”


Publishers Weekly

“Outward adventures lead to an inward journey of self-discovery.”


Booklist

“Cushy as an ermine throw, smooth as a ride in a chauffeur-driven Bentley, bubbly as Veuve Clicquot, this latest treat from Adler makes murder, thwarted passion, and inheritance disputes delightful.”


Kirkus Reviews

“Adler is a household name to fans of romantic suspense.”

—Library Journal

“Entertaining. Lust, greed, and murder keep readers on their toes. Adler is expert at digging deep into her characters’ psyches and showing what makes them tick. Her villain here is wonderfully portrayed—as are all the other characters in this well-plotted, entertaining work.”


Publishers Weekly

“Spellbinding. Adler is a true genius.”

—Affaire de Coeur

“A fun read!”

—San Francisco Examiner

“Gifted storyteller Elizabeth Adler proves once again why she is truly a master of sweeping, intense, and dramatic novels.”


Romantic Times

Now or Never

“Top notch…one of the best from the author of
The Secret of the Villa Mimosa
, combining tension, sensuality, and great characterization. Highly recommended.”


Library Journal

“The novel definitely packs a wallop.”

—Booklist

“Will keep her romance audience securely hers as she leads them into new territory.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Mesmerizing.”

—Internet Bookwatch

“Intense, engrossing and exhilarating are just a few words that describe Elizabeth Adler’s new release. Ms. Adler’s novel brings a wonderful cast of characters vividly to life!”


Romantic Times

Sooner or Later

“Thoroughly entertaining…a real page turner.”


The Literary Times

“Swift plotting and sensuous.”


Kirkus Reviews

“With
Sooner or Later
, Elizabeth Adler adds her special and unique touch to the current bumper crop of mesmerizing suspense novels. Another keeper.”


Romantic Times

All or Nothing

“Sensuously creamy suspense. Call this film noir on silk sheets.”


Kirkus Reviews

“A truly wonderful thriller that you won’t be able to put down! This is Ms. Adler’s most exciting book yet! Here’s hoping we will see more of the adventures of Al and Marla, as this has the feel of a terrific new franchise.”


Romantic Times

Legacy of Secrets

“Ingeniously plotted…Spiced with betrayal, revenge, lust and scandal, this is an intoxicating brew, served with panache.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Maudie Molyneux is one of the most delightfully original narrators in recent memory.”

—Chicago Tribune

“In a narrative that purrs like a Rolls, Adler once again weaves and spins her story threads skillfully.”


Kirkus Reviews

“Characters will ensnare Adler’s fans.”

—Booklist

The Rich Shall Inherit

“Rises above the genre to surprise, fascinates…genuine pathos, humor, and inventiveness.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Not to be missed! Interesting characterization and exciting plotlines. A modern detective story, a family history, and a murder mystery all at once. Worthwhile reading.”

—Rendezvous

“Told with charm, wit, warmth, and a good deal of raw suspense. The climax is satisfying. The way things should happen in big, glitzy novels.”


Rave Reviews

“Fascinating!”

—Orlando Sentinel

“Engrossing. The identity of the true heir will literally taunt you until the end.”

—Macon Beacon
(Georgia)

“Elizabeth Adler weaves the saga and mystery genre together. Elaborately plotted. Dauntless enough to entertain.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“A juicy detective yarn glossier than Dulux and sexier than suspenders.”

—New Library
, London

“Thriller, romance and rags-to-riches saga beautifully bound together.”

—Oxford Mail
, England

“If you like nothing better than a spellbinding saga to get wrapped up in, this novel is an absolute must. Highly readable. Don’t miss it!”

—Liverpool Echo

“There is death, violence, passion and the mystery is not solved until the very end. And by that time I was entranced by Elizabeth Adler’s latest book, and once again, find myself longing for her next.”

—Reading Post
, England

Property of a Lady

“Adler’s evocation of fleshpots like Manhattan and Hollywood is admirable…wide screen romance/intrigue.”


Kirkus Reviews

“A sweeping romantic epic that will absorb readers until the novel’s conclusion, when all of the characters and events come together in a rich and fulfilling resolution.”

—School Library Journal

“Briskly plotted and well researched.”

—Publishers Weekly

Peach

“A well-paced story full of rich characters.”

—South Bend Tribune

“Enthralling. Utterly satisfying.”

—Rave Reviews

For Anabelle

 

 

TUSCANY…Vineyard-covered hills, silvery olive groves, fields of dazzling sunflowers, old pastel-colored villas and ancient stone villages, cool archways flashed with sunlight, and the village of Bella Piacere
*
on the crest of the hill. Paradise…

Contents
Chapter One

Gemma

Let me tell you right from the start, you wouldn’t want to know me. Especially on a Saturday night. Why? Because that’s when it’s toughest here in the emergency room, and the only reason you would ever get to meet me is if you were wheeled in here on a gurney. Then it would be my face looking down at you under a glare of white light, saying, What’s your name?…Where does it hurt?…Who did it?…

I’m Gemma Jericho, resident-in-charge at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Trauma Department, and Saturday night is always hell on wheels. Right now I’m forging through the usual weekend mayhem of stabbings, shootings, and road accidents, wailing women and haggard drunks, overdosed addicts and a poor limp baby in a frantic mother’s arms. I’m on an adrenaline high, calling instructions, going from victim to victim: an intubation; a CAT scan; another shot of ephi; tending the comatose baby; paging the pediatric surgeon.

Sometimes I ask myself, What am I doing here? How did I get here? Why are most of my Saturday nights spent like this? Where’s
my
life? Then I catch a glimpse of myself and I see the answer.

I’m wearing scrubs and the equivalent of a plastic shower cap over my hair, sneakers, and a white coat. I’ve been on duty for eight hours already and with a few more still to come. I’m tired, tousled, and cranky, and I need a shower. Plus this face is never going to launch any thousand ships, even though my mom tells me I’m a bit Meg Ryanish, albeit on one of Meg’s bad days, but that’s just my mom talking. The truth is that besides being an emergency physician, I’m thirty-eight and divorced, with a teenage daughter to support. And that’s reality talking.

Add to that, I have a secret that I’m not telling, a horrible secret guilt that will haunt me all my life, but it explains why I believe no one would want to
really
know me. The true me that lurks beneath this efficient, noble, white-coated doctor exterior.

Sometimes, before I leave for the hospital, I look in the mirror longer than the minute it takes to make sure my face is still there and that my hair has at least been combed, and instead of seeing reality, I remember when I was in high school and thought I might be reasonably pretty.

Gemma Jericho, the Dancing Queen, that was me, and boys were my main interest and girlfriends the center of my life. I remember my mother trying to drill some sense into me, the way I try now with my own daughter, telling me to think about my future and not just throw it away on the high school football hero. Which, of course, is exactly what I did. But that’s another story.

Those teenage years are long behind me now. I mean, thirty-eight is awfully close to forty, don’t you think?
The Big Four Oh
. It seems so far away when you are only sixteen. How many of us ever really think we will get there? Certainly not me…or do I mean “not I”? Whatever, forty is forty. Right. And
plain
with it. Plus I probably rate a zero in “style.”

What do I really look like? Okay, so I’m on the skinny side and, as my mom tells me every Sunday when we go to her place for lunch, I could use a bit more meat on my bones. Actually, bigger breasts might help. Maybe I should think about that? I used to stuff my bra when I was younger, but I gave that up long ago. Anyhow, I’m a leggy five-ten, but that doesn’t make me “elegant.” I’m a bit of a klutz, really, and somehow prone to accidents, except when I’m working, and then I’m a fine-honed speed machine.

Last time I looked I had blue eyes, usually hidden behind horn-rims, the kind that swoop up at the sides. I’m so nearsighted it’s pathetic, and without glasses I practically have to grope my way around. You would have thought, me being a medico and all, I would have succumbed to the lure of laser eye surgery by now, but who has the time?

My hair is a sort of subdued natural blonde, short, wavy, and choppy (choppy because in moments of panic looking in that bathroom mirror, I tend to chop chunks off it myself). Plus it seems to have a will of its own—it stands up in a kind of awful springy halo no matter what I do, and it’s always untidy because when I’m frantic, which is most of the time, I have this habit of running my hands through it.

The rest of me? Let me think. Ah yes, I have a nose of the usual sort, with a bit of a bump in the middle from a whack with a tennis racket when I was thirteen that seems to have gotten bigger over the years and gives me an arrogant look that, I can assure you, is absolutely not justified. Oh, and I have kind of a smiley mouth that turns up at the corners even when I’m not really smiling, but it makes the patients feel better, so that’s okay.

Let me tell you about my marriage to him-who-is-better-not-spoken-of. You’ll gather from that, that my ex is not exactly Mr. Popularity around here. Actually, in my high school days, when I was considered fairly cute and a great dancer, I had quite a few boys after me, including “the football hero.” I’m sighing as I say this because, as I tell my own daughter now, it gets you nowhere except maybe to the prom.

Anyhow, I was hanging out with this teenage football hero, and oh how I worshiped him. I would have kissed his sweaty feet when he pulled his boots off after the game had he wanted me to. And oddly enough, he was hot for me.
So
hot, we married right out of high school.

Then I went off to college, and so did he—me north, him south, though I gather he spent more time in pool-rooms than in class, while I suddenly got this fixation on medicine. I had a goal, he had none. We lasted on and off until, when I was still in med school, I got pregnant. And then he just took off.

That was fourteen years ago. I have never seen him since, and he has never seen his daughter. I divorced him, and I’ve never taken a cent from him. Not, of course, that he
offered
. I struggled on through medical school, working and studying, and I raised Livvie by myself. And if you ask is there anything I’m proud of, the answer is yes. I’m proud of Livvie.

I have this picture of her in my mind, silhouetted against the bright sunlight: long skinny legs, big feet in clunky platform shoes, narrow hips, wide shoulders, long giraffe neck, and hair that looks as though it’s been run over by a lawn mower, especially when it’s tinted green with that spray stuff from the drugstore, which it sometimes is, though usually it’s just bleached banana-blond.

Livvie is fourteen and into the latest in Outrageous, and you never know with her what you are going to get. Still, I figure this post-punk image is all a phase and that sometime soon she will grow out of it. I’ve drawn the line at body-piercing and tattoos, though. I mean, I couldn’t sit opposite her at dinner knowing she had a
ring
sticking through her tongue or a rose embossed on her behind. My stomach churns at the thought, and as a doctor, my heart simply turns over at the risk.

The third member of our small family is my mother, Livvie’s grandmother, Nonna. Of course,
nonna
means “grandmother” in Italian, which is what she is…an Italian grandmother. That’s her profession. And she does it at full pressure.

Nonna has lived in the same small suburban town on Long Island for forty years, and it’s where I grew up. Her shabby old house is a startling Mediterranean blue and stands out from the other gray suburban houses like a scrap of summer sky on a cloudy day. She had it painted this color because it reminded her of Bella Piacere, the village in Tuscany where she lived until her family emigrated to New York. She has never returned, and I doubt she even thinks about her homeland or “the old days” anymore, though she still keeps the photos in silver frames on her mahogany sideboard to remind her.

There’s a picture of my immigrant Italian grandparents there, caught forever in blurred sepia, sitting on the stoop of their Bensonhurst apartment house.

There’s also a photo of me and Livvie, taken at a Little League game when Livvie was about seven and still just a simple little blond kid whose only dream was to hit a home run, and I was about thirty and not so simple anymore and my dream was still to meet Mr. Right. Life offered infinite possibilities back then. The home run. The right man. And you know what? It almost came true. And you know what else? I don’t want to talk about that.

Then, of course, there’s my favorite picture of Nonna, only she wasn’t Nonna then. It was taken in the fifties, before she married, when her name was still Sophia Maria Lorenza Corsini. She was seventeen, tall and pretty, with flashing dark eyes and a mass of dark hair flowing to her tiny waist. In the photo, she’s wearing a flowered dress with a sweetheart neckline and platform sandals with wedge heels. I can hardly believe this fashionable vision was my mom.

Now Nonna is sixty, a widow for twenty years, in the basic black of the Italian grandmother with sturdy shoes, a little white lace collar, and glasses perched on the end of her arrogant nose. She’s usually to be found standing over the stove cooking up the big ritual Italian Sunday lunch, just the way she has for decades.

Nonna is tall, still with generous curves, but she swears that at her age no man would look at her twice. Unless he’s after a good meal, that is, she’ll add with a disparaging sniff. Hair pulled back into a neat bun, she still has those flashing dark eyes and a flashing temperament to match, and she keeps us in order with a hard stare or a cutting remark.

So that’s who we are. The Jericho family. Oh, plus there’s Sinbad, the fattest ginger cat you ever saw. Sinbad is enormous, but he eats so fastidiously, polishing his face with a well-licked paw between bites, you never notice how much he’s really consumed. He’s also close kin to a dog. He brings his ball—a beat-up Ping-Pong ball, much squashed and bitten—for me to throw. This cat plays catch like a wide receiver—he’s up there with the football greats—and he has the neck to prove it.

Actually, he’s Livvie’s surrogate dog, the huge Newfoundland I promised her when I still believed in that future dream of a house in the country. Because there was a time, you know, not so long ago, when life could have been different…a time of “might have been.” A time when that country house loomed as a bright possibility, filled with a normal, happy family unit: husband, wife, a few kids, dogs and cats….

What am I thinking? I’m
not supposed to go there.
He
isn’t supposed to
be
there. I’ve trained myself never to talk about him, never to think of him. And yet there he is in my memory, larger than life and twice as handsome. Cash Drummond, the man who brought magic into my life. And changed it forever.

BOOK: Summer in Tuscany
3.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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