Liz Davis is frustrated. She loves her fiancé, Jeff, but it seems their lives are moving in opposite directions. His heart is set on simple goals: creating a home, having a family, building a life together with his future bride. Liz, on the other hand, is still trying to live up to her father's ideals years after his death: running his development company and meeting his exacting standards are the only goals to which she has ever aspired. So while she does love Jeff, she's not certain she can uproot her life to be with him.
But Liz's strong façade begins to crumble when she realizes that her daddy may not have been everything she always believed. Documents surface that suggest he may have been responsible for the destruction of another man's reputation and livelihood. Then she learns that she has a more personal matter demanding her attention that may require her to make a life or death decision of her own. Just as the world seems to be caving in around her, she gets a call that sends her running to Tuscany to be at her mother's side. Mary Davis is the one person who can talk sense to Liz, but Mary faces struggles of her own as well. Maybe Mary and Liz can each find what they're looking for on A Hilltop in Tuscany.
Stephanie Grace Whitson's follow up to her compelling novel A Garden in Paris should please both her established fans as well as newcomers to her writing. Her style has an easy flow that makes this book a quick read. And while she does jump from one character's point of view to another's, it's always easy to follow the storyline. The reader is never left wondering whose head they're in at the moment.
The Christian themes of this book are clear, but unlike many faith-based novels, the characters act out of very human motivations and desires. There is no Pollyannaish display of personal perfection, no sense that the crises faced are superficial or set up. I can imagine anyone faced with similar choices going through the frustrations and anger that Liz and Jeff are dealing with, and the ultimate resolution is neither simple nor pat and perfect. It's just real.
The one area that doesn't feel totally real in this story is the life circumstances of these characters. It's hard to imagine having a corporate jet at one's beck and call. It's difficult to contemplate being able to cross continents the way most people cross the street. But the lack of financial woes allows the author to focus on the interpersonal relationships and tell the story she wanted to tell. It also allows the reader to enjoy the fantasy of living like the upper crust for 300 pages - there's no harm in that at all.
Overall, this book, as with the first in the series, is quite entertaining. It should be pleasing to those with a penchant for light romance, human drama, and international travel.