Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dante's Gift by Aubrey Wynne (Book Review)

Dante's Gift by Aubrey Wynne
Book 1: A Chicago Christmas Series
Publisher: Plato Publishing
Publication Date: November 4, 2015
Format: Paperback - 102 pages
               Kindle - 5481 KB
               Nook - 467 KB
ISBN: 978-1518797330
BNID: 2940152697087
Genre: Historical Holiday Romance

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a book review program hosted by Ebooks For Review.

Book Description:

Kathleen James has put her practical side away for once and looks forward to the perfect romantic evening: an intimate dinner with the man of her dreams—and an engagement ring. She is not prepared to hear that he wants to bring his grandmother back from Italy to live with him.

Dominic Lawrence has planned this marriage proposal for six months. Nothing can go wrong—until his Nonna calls. Now he must interrupt the tenderest night of Katie’s life with the news that another woman will be under their roof.

When Antonia’s sister dies, she finds herself longing to be back in the states. An Italian wartime bride from the ‘40s, she knows how precious love can be. Can her own story of an American soldier and a very special collie once again bring two hearts together at Christmas?

Book Excerpt:


Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing, and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. - ANNE LANDERS

Katie pushed her forehead against the cool bathroom tile and took a deep, shaky breath. What just happened? It was not supposed to go like this. The perfect romantic night had turned into a disaster. How can I go back out there and face him?

She pulled away from the wall and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Tears glistened in her dark green eyes. One slipped down her cheek and onto the front of her silk jade dress. The dark stain slowly spread like the frustration that crept through her soul.

Dominic Lawrence was perfect. His dark, good looks, and tall, athletic body had women taking a second look whenever he entered the room. They had similar interests but were opposites in personality. He was easy going to her serious nature. She liked to plot and plan; he loved spur-of-the-moment. Her thriftiness made him chuckle. They accepted their differences and balanced one another. And the man could make her blood boil with a look or a touch.

Why now? Fumbling in her purse for her cell, she tried to put things in perspective. Calm down. He might change his mind. She might not agree. Katie swiped the screen, her finger slicing across the necks of the happy couple smiling back at her. That’s ironic.

“Oh my god, you remembered to call me. Did he propose?” her best friend’s voice gushed over the line. “Where did he take you?”

“Alinea’s.” She tried to stamp down the impatience she felt at Jazzy’s enthusiasm. “Listen—”

“No way. It’s one of the most expensive restaurants in Chicago. He had to buy the tickets months ago.” Alinea’s, a premiere restaurant on the east side, did not take reservations but sold tickets instead.

“I know. Now listen—”

“I heard they have a green apple helium balloon. It’s clear and you put your mouth on it and suck in the flavor. Then the helium affects your voice… Are you crying?”

“No, yes. Oh Jazzy.” She let loose a sob as another conversation didn’t hit the mark. She felt as if she were in the twilight zone.

“Did he propose?” The excitement was gone from her friend’s voice, replaced with concern and wariness.

“Not yet.” She held the phone away from ear, anticipating the loud reprimand.

“WHAT? Where are you? The bathroom?”

“Yes, but I—”

“It’s just a little panic attack. We practiced this. Your traditional Italian man gets down on one knee. He says something so tender and sweet that you smile, get a little moisture in your eyes—”

“He wants to bring his grandmother back from Italy to live with him.”

Silence. A speechless Jazzy would be laughable at any other time. “Help me.” She hated the pleading in her tone, hated not being in control of a situation.

“Give me a minute, you caught me off guard.”

Katie heard the snap of her fingers on the other end. She only did that when she was stumped. Oh, god. “What am I going to do? You know I’m not a demonstrative person.”

A snort burst through the phone.

“I’m not like the rest of his family. They are in your face, hugging then fighting then hugging again. I need peace. And privacy. And personal space. What if she’s like the New York branch?”

“You don’t need space from your hunky Italian.” Jazzy chuckled. “The Romano family is loud, affectionate and unfiltered. I adore them. But remember, there are dozens of them. Dominic was raised an only child like his father, who was raised by Antonia. His cousins are all on his mother’s side.”

“I’ve never met her but he’s talked about her so much. His grandmother is all he has left on his father’s side. What if she’s a domineering matriarch? I can’t even cook.” She batted a wisp of hair from her eyes, mindless of the pins that threatened to fall from the loose bun. “Or worse, what if she’s a decrepit old woman? I have a terrible bedside manner. Can you see me emptying bed pans or feeding someone?”

Laughter bubbled from the phone. “From the stories Dom has told us, she probably has more energy than you. Antonia sounds very independent and may refuse to come back with him.”

Katie hadn’t thought of that. Perhaps all this drama was premature. “That’s a good point. But Dominic doesn’t put his foot down often and when he does, he’s impossible to sway. He says he owes his life to that woman.”

Jazzy took on her let’s-be-reasonable tone. “She came back for her son and daughter-in-law’s funeral and stayed two years. According to his cousin, Dom would have walked away from the family business if his grandmother hadn’t intervened. He owes her a lot.”

The tears stung the back of her eyes again and she silently nodded her head. It was time to give back, and the man she loved would never turn his back on family.

“Do you love him?”

“With all my heart.” The voice of reason. What would she do without Jazzy?

“Then you can’t tell him no.”

“But how can I tell him yes?”

Silence. Then a chuckle. “Okay, Plan B. Here’s what we do…”

My Book Review:

Dante's Gift is a wonderfully poignant holiday romantic tale that intertwines two love stories: the present day story of Katie and Dominic set in Chicago, with the historical story of Dominic's grandparent's Antonia and Ken set in Italy during WWII.

Author Aubrey Wynne weaves a lovely romantic tale that transports the reader to present day Chicago where Katie struggles to commit to her relationship with boyfriend Dominic, who is ready to propose to her. When Dominic brings his grandmother Antonia from Italy to live to with him in Chicago, Katie is charmed by Dominic's sweet Nonna when she recounts how she met and fell in love with her young American soldier in WWII Italy, and about a lovable collie named Dante.

I loved reading this enchanting holiday romance story, the intertwining of the past with the present easily keeps the reader engaged as both love stories unfold. There is something about holiday romance stories that tugs at my heart and stirs my soul, so as I read Antonia and Ken's wartime love story, I couldn't help but smile as I imagined the lovely elderly Italian lady telling it to an unsure young American woman on the cusp of her own true love story. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I loved the addition and role that the lovable collie Dante played in the story, it was an added sweetness that simply left a smile on my face.

Dante's Gift is a beautifully written holiday themed romance story about true love and all that it encompasses.


About The Author

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas.

Her debut story, Merry Christmas, Henry, was published in November 2013 by Melange Books, LLC and received Best Short Romance in the Preditors & Editors Reader's Choice of 2013. Wynne's humorous shorts Pete's Mighty Purty Privies ( Best Short in the Preditors & Editors Reader's Choice of 2014 and Top 100 Laugh Out Loud List on Goodreads) and To Cast A Cliché are published with Amazon.

Aubrey's first love is historical romance and her recent medieval fantasy novella, Rolf's Quest, will be released in 2016 as a full-length novel. Dante's Gift, her latest Christmas story, is part of the boxset Christmas Pets and Kisses and sold as a single. The boxset Valentine Pets and Kisses also contains the first in her vintage series, 19 Ivy Lane.

Author Website


  1. Very cool! I love stories that intertwine present day with a historical story.
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

    1. Hi Diane! Thank you for stopping by my blog, I appreciate it. This is a wonderful story, I love when the storyline intertwines the past with the present too.