Dating da Vinci

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Overview

"Malena Lott's charming, heartfelt novel about how grieving widow Ramona Elise gets her groove back will have you cheering bravissimo as she experiences her own Renaissance, courtesy of one very hot Leonardo da Vinci."
- Jenny Gardiner, award-winning author of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

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, ...

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Overview

"Malena Lott's charming, heartfelt novel about how grieving widow Ramona Elise gets her groove back will have you cheering bravissimo as she experiences her own Renaissance, courtesy of one very hot Leonardo da Vinci."
- Jenny Gardiner, award-winning author of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

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 . . .

"Delightfully affirming romance!" - Booklist

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT MALENA LOTT:
"Sweet and funny, and very real."
"Funny and refreshing."
"I was hooked from the first page."
"I couldn't put it down. It was amazing!"

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"She has written a story about human nature and the ups and downs someone has to go to fully understand life... That's what makes this a worthy contemporary in my eyes because it is about one woman's journey to find love and happiness in those places, and people, she would have never thought possible. " - Ramblings on Romance

"This is a heartfelt, well written account of a woman's search for self after losing her husband. Malena Lott is a skilled writer and I look forward to reading more from her. " - Romance Reader at Heart

"Reading Dating Da Vinci was that special treat... Light, funny, silly, and still serious. " - B&B Ex Libris

"I thought Ramona was written really well. The story itself is touching, yet it still maintains the fun aspects of 'chick lit.' Fans of books like P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern and movies like Under the Tuscan Sun... will appreciate Ramona's emotional journey." - Traci's Book Blog

"Overall, the journey, filled with growth, love, sex, hope, sorrow, children, friends and family makes for some pleasurable reading." - A Bookblogger's Diary

"A Remarkable tour de force. This story will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love all over again. Curl up with a glass of wine, and spend a fabulous evening dating da Vinci." - Single Titles

"All in all, this book was an extremely well written story that captivated me from the very beginning. I fell in love with the characters and Ramona's journey... A really good read, I definitely recommend this book for those lazy weekends when a good book is all that's needed to make the weekend a good one." - The Book Binge

"It's thoughtful, heartfelt, and undeniably engaging, and we look forward to seeing more of Ms. Lott's work." - Word Candy

"Dating Da Vinci lets the reader see a slice of life in one woman's world and makes the reader feel a part of it. You will want her to find happiness again and anguish with her in her disappointments, at times finding yourself both laughing and crying almost in the same paragraph! " - Curled Up with a Good Book

"Finding herself on a new path wildly different than the one she envisioned with Joel, Ramona Elise (or Mona Lisa, as da Vinci calls her) learns to open her heart to new possibilities in order to find la dolce vita in Lott's delightfully affirming romance" - Booklist

Publishers Weekly

Linguist Ramona Elise Griffen, an Austin, Tex., widow in her mid-30s, is renting the studio out back (her late husband's) to a robust, 25-year-old Italian immigrant student named Leonardo da Vinci. Ramona, hoping to shake her grief and find a way back to "Normal" ("The world is divided into two types of people: Grievers and Normals"), begins by dating da Vinci. In the two years since her husband's unexpected death, Ramona has cared for their two preadolescent boys and taken comfort in junk food, but when da Vinci enters the picture, she finds herself reinvigorated. Soon, she's also unwittingly caught the eye of the debonair local doctor who's dating Ramona's pretentious younger sister. Lott cleverly includes passages from Ramona's doctoral thesis on the language of love and never falters in her depiction of Ramona's overwhelming grief, tackling honestly her guilt over newfound happiness. Pure romance escapism written smartly, this latest from Lott (The Stork Reality) is satisfying and uplifting. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402213939
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Malena Lott lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three children. After a bustling advertising career, Malena transitioned to brand consulting and writing novels, which she could do from home, in her PJs, chase around her toddler, and join the daily minivan parade at the elementary school.
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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter One

I NEVER INTENDED TO take home da Vinci. I don't mean "a da Vinci" as in a reproduction of the man's art, best known for his Mona Lisa and Last Supper paintings. I mean to say I took home Leonardo da Vinci, the living, breathing man; only not that man, the genius from the fifteenth century, but a young Italian immigrant who shared his name in modern day Austin, Texas.

It is far more accurate to say I took home Italian for dinner.
It began innocently enough, with me breaking my rule yet again not to get involved with a student, but I assure you I had never gotten this involved before.

My students, all adults ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties, shuffled into the cramped classroom with the wide-eyed wonder of children on the first day of school. I smoothed my blonde hair behind my ear and reviewed the student roster on my clipboard: eight students, five languages. Of the 6,912 known living languages in the world, I had personally encountered more than fifty in my role as an English language instructor to immigrants (including those speaking languages most Americans have never heard of, like Balochi, Dari, Pashto, and Tajik). But it wasn't an unfamiliar language that caused me to catch my breath. It was a name, jumping off the page like a typo or emblazoned in lights on a marquee. The usual: Miguel, Margarita, Jesús-Spanish; Helena-Swahili; Jayesh-Farsi; Pénélope-French. And lastly, the one that caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand: Leonardo da Vinci-Italian.

My best friend says that funny tickle is the breeze of fate telling you your life is about to change, but I'd been walking around in a fog so long I barely noticed.

I surveyed the students-none remotely resembling an Italian. I'd encountered people with famous names before: a homely grade-school friend named Elizabeth Taylor, a high-school boyfriend named Bill Clinton, even a wiry bank teller with the macho moniker of John Wayne, but someone named after perhaps the greatest genius of all time? This I had to see. I imagined he would resemble the only sketch I'd ever seen of the artist da Vinci: a self-portrait he'd made in his old age, with a crazy long beard and deep wrinkles. I wondered if Cecelia, my friend in admissions, was playing some kind of joke on me.

I watched my students take their places, smiles plastered on their faces as they exchanged pleasant nods to their classmates. A smile was the universal hello, even if it wasn't genuine, but it soon would be. I wished Americans could see how well the students got along: people from vastly different areas of the world, from all walks of life, from peasants in remote villages to descendants of royalty. My students shared one distinct characteristic that bonded them for life: they were outsiders desperately wanting in.

I could typically tell who was whom from their appearances. Their skin colors ranged from the very fair, belonging to a lanky French woman to the rich ebony of an African. Their dress was the second cultural marker, though you could tell how quickly they planned to assimilate if they wore American-style clothing.

I passed out the workbooks, noting that da Vinci was still missing, if he existed at all. Getting lost in America was common, something that we concentrated on heavily in the first six weeks-how to get from point A to point B was critical for survival. Each student carried a map with color-coded instructions. My building, the Panchal Cultural Center of Austin, was in orange. I noticed the map was the one item all my students carried in their hands. I waited a few minutes longer for da Vinci to show, but when he didn't, I started my class as I did each semester, with a welcome in my students' languages.

"Karibu! ¡Hola! Bonjour! Xosh amadid!" I welcomed them with a smile, my hands clasped together then widening in a warm gesture.

My students replied back in their native tongues, pleased that we had made a verbal connection. I knew the word welcome in a hundred languages, but was only fluent in four: German, French, Spanish, and English. As a linguist, I knew enough to get around in dozens of foreign countries though I'd never traveled anywhere outside of the United States, except for Mexico where I went with my husband every year for vacation. My heart paused as I thought of him, but soon resumed its normal rhythm. I'm not certain how long it takes a broken heart to mend, but I hadn't done anything to speed along its recovery.

In fact, my life had become so simple and routine that I began to believe survival mode was the only mode, or at least the only mode for me. My only source of adventure lay before me, the seven students who would hang on my every word, unlike my two sons, who grew more belligerent with each passing year, especially with their father gone. After Joel died, I wanted nothing more than to stop communicating altogether, yet finances forced me to work right through my grief. In the almost two years since Joel's passing, I found myself more comfortable with complete strangers from around the globe than I did with my friends and family.

I liked that each semester began with a blank slate-I did not know them, and they did not know me. They were floundering to make it in America, I was floundering to make it through another day. I had never had so much in common with my students. For the first time in my thirty-six years, I didn't fit in, either.

Our class began with a lot of non-verbal communication-pointing to charts and learning the signs they would encounter-stop signs, restroom signs, road signs, traffic signals-all important things that could keep them alive, fed, clothed, and not run over by a bus.

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