From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky comes a new adult novel about a young woman who becomes a nanny in Capri and falls for her charges’ bad-boy brother.
It’s time for twenty-four-year-old Amber MacLean to face the music. After a frivolous six months of backpacking through New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia, she finds herself broke on the Mediterranean without enough money for a plane ticket home to California. There are worse places to be stuck than the gorgeous coastline of southern Italy, but the only job she manages to secure involves teaching English to two of the brattiest children she’s ever met.
It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, Italian ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, Derio tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones.
But when her position as teacher turns into one as full-time nanny at the crumbling old villa, Amber finds herself growing closer to the enigmatic recluse and soon has to choose between the safety of her life back in the States and the uncertainty of Derio’s closely guarded heart.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Karina Halle is the New York Times bestselling author of Racing the Sun; Where Sea Meets Sky; Love, in English; and other wild and romantic reads. A former travel writer and music journalist, she lives with her husband and her rescue pup on an island off the coast of British Columbia, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails, and devours a lot of books.
Read an Excerpt
Racing the Sun
We’ve all thought about how we’re going to die. My friend Angela Kemp, whom I’ve known since we played in saggy diapers together, is convinced she’s going to choke to death on something. Every time we go out to eat, she searches the restaurant for the person most likely to know the Heimlich maneuver and tries to sit by them. It doesn’t seem to matter that I know the Heimlich maneuver; she just wants to know she’ll be safe if it happens.
Personally, I’ve always thought I’d fall to my death. I think it all started when I was seven or eight years old and had dreams of my house turning over and me falling from the floor to the ceiling, dodging couches and tables. After that, my dreams turned to me falling off of balconies, getting trapped in collapsing elevators, and being in horrific plane crashes. Actually, it was never the crash that killed me, nor was it the scariest part of the dream; I was always sucked out of the airplane before the impact and fell to my death in a horrible rush of cold air and mortality.
It shouldn’t surprise me, then, that I think I’m about to die in this moment, and by falling, no less.
In fact, I’m sure there’s no way I can possibly survive this. It’s not just that I’m in a taxi that seems to be coughing black fumes out of its tailpipe every two seconds, or the fact that the driver, with a mustache so big that he looks like a walrus, is looking more at me and the two other backpackers in the backseat than at the road. No, it’s because, as we round the corners of the “highway” toward the postcard-worthy town of Positano, we’re going full speed and there’s nothing but a sheer cliff on my side of the vehicle.
“Shit,” I swear, trying to hold on to something, anything, that would keep me in the car and prevent me from falling to my death, like my sordid dreams foretell. I look over at Ana and Hendrik, my Danish traveling companions for this leg of Southern Italy, and they don’t seem all that concerned. I’m especially not going to grab on to big, blond Hendrik since Ana has a problem with random girls touching him.
Not that I’m random at this point. I met up with the couple in Rome and spent a few days with them there before we took the train down south. I know they have plans to keep going all the way to Sicily and hunker down in some beach hut with a bunch of goats (I don’t know, but whenever Hendrik talks about their plans, goats are involved somehow), but I’m starting to believe that Positano is the end of the line for me.
And it’s not just because I’m certain I’m going to die on the way there. It’s because I am flat fucking broke. We all knew this day would come (and by we, I mean my parents and I). After all, I’ve been traveling for six months around the world and even though I’ve been trying to spend as little as possible, the world isn’t as cheap as you’d think.
It probably doesn’t help that I went a little overboard in Europe and had a mini shopping spree in every city I was in. But I like to think of my new shawls and sandals and jewelry as souvenirs, not just clothes. I mean, do you get to wear your postcards or ceramic doodads or tiny calendars with pictures of the Eiffel Tower on them? No. But you can wear a scarf you picked up from a market in Berlin.
But, of course, in hindsight, maybe I should have managed my money a bit better. I just thought that my savings were enough. And then, when my parents started bailing me out, I thought I could coast by on that. Just for a little while. Until I found out they sold my shitty 1982 Mustang convertible to help pay for this trip. After that, they just stopped putting money in my account.
I’ve now eaten into the money that was supposed to pay for my return ticket home, a ticket I didn’t think I’d have to buy until I got down to Morocco, or even Turkey.
So, Positano, Italy, on the Amalfi Coast, might just be the end for me.
If I even make it out of this cab. As we round another bend, I can see crazy people parked on the road and selling flowers. Not the side of the road, but parked on the actual road. So now people are swerving around them, but when Italians swerve they don’t slow down—they actually speed up.
I decide to close my eyes for the rest of the journey and hope I get there in one piece.
Even though the journey from Sorrento to Positano doesn’t translate into many miles, it still feels like it takes forever for us to finally get there.
The walrus-mustached cab driver pulls to a sudden stop, abrupt enough that I fling forward, my curly blonde hair flying all over the place.
“Amber,” Ana says in her deep accent. “We’re here.”
“I gathered that,” I say, and awkwardly pretend to search through my messenger bag for euros, though I don’t really have any euros to spare. Thankfully, Ana thrusts some bills into the driver’s hand and we clamber out of the cab.
And so here is Positano. I’d been so busy closing my eyes and praying that I’d never really gotten a good look at the town.
It’s fucking charming. I mean, it’s beautiful and stunning and photogenic as all hell, but its charm is the first thing that comes to mind. The cab dropped us off at the top of a hill and you can see just how packed the town is, with building after colorful building crammed below the cliffs, staggered down the hillsides, tucked into every nook and cranny. It makes you wonder what crazy person decided to put a town here, of all places.
The one-way road leading down to the beach is narrow, with cars and pedestrians and patio seating vying for space, and lined with stores that beckon you to come inside. Actually, knowing Italy, the minute you walk past, some shopkeeper will come out and literally beckon you to come inside. Like, you can’t say no (maybe that’s how I’ve ended up with so much stuff). In the distance, the Mediterranean Sea sparkles from the sunlight—glitter on water—and hydrofoil ferries glide over it with ease.
“Wow,” I say softly, trying to take it all in. “This is like the movies.”
“Yes, it’s very nice,” Hendrik says blankly. He’s never really impressed with anything. When we saw the Colosseum, he said he thought it would be bigger. Well, I thought it would be bigger, too, but that didn’t stop me from being overwhelmed by the structure and history of it all. “Luckily the hostel is at the top of the hill.”
That is lucky, considering if it were at the bottom of the hill on this one-way road, I’d have to lug my overflowing backpack and duffel bag uphill to catch a cab or bus when it’s time to leave. Then again . . . I have a feeling I’m going to be here awhile. I have enough money to stay at this hostel for a week, and then I’m officially fucked.
I try not to dwell on that as I follow the Danes down the road for a few minutes as cars and the ubiquitous motorcycle zoom past, narrowly missing me. Even being on foot and walking at your own pace, there’s something so dizzying about this place. All these houses, the color of burnt orange and pastel yellow and faded rose, looking down on each other. When I turn around and look behind me, the steep, rocky hills rise up into the sky.
It feels like the entire town could topple over at any minute.
This could be a metaphor for my life at the moment.
After we’ve settled into a rather pleasant-looking dorm room (pleasant compared to the fleabag we stayed at in Rome), Ana and Hendrik invite me to go with them down to the beach. I really do want to go and explore, but I have a feeling they’ll want to eat at some restaurant, and that would cost more euros than I can afford. As much as I hate it, I have to stick to my weird Italian granola bars and fruit for as long as I can. Besides, I’m sure the lovebirds would rather stroll on the Positano beach with each other and not have some broke, frazzle-haired American girl tagging along.
So they leave and I take my time exploring the hostel. It’s small, but even though it’s the only one in town, it’s not as packed as I thought it would be. It’s the beginning of June, too, so I thought all college kids and post-college kids (like myself) would be flocking to this area. I guess not.
That’s fine with me. After living out of a backpack for months on end and never really having any time for myself, strolling around a quaint but quiet hostel would be awesome—just one of the many little pleasures of a traveler’s life.
I end up back at the reception desk where a girl with shiny, poker-straight, chocolate-brown hair is sipping some lemon drink. I get major hair envy over anyone with straight strands.
“Buongiorno,” the girl says with a smile once she notices I’m there. Then she remembers I checked in a moment ago. “I mean, hello. Amber, right? From San Francisco?”
“San Jose,” I correct her, finding her easy to talk to already. I’ve always been a fairly quiet girl, but that changed real quick once I started traveling by myself. “Listen, I was just wondering. Well, I mean, I know you work here, right?”
She nods. “I hope so, otherwise I’ll be in a lot of trouble.”
“Right. I was just wondering, how did that happen?”
“Oh,” she says and leans back in her stool. I notice how sun-browned her skin is and gather she must have been in Italy, or at least someplace warm, for a long time. She breaks into a wide smile. “It’s kind of a long story.”
I lean against the counter. “I’ve got time.”
And so the girl—Amanda—launches into the story of her current life. She came here on a whim with a friend of hers but fell in love with Positano so badly that she didn’t want to leave. Her friend ended up going back home and she asked the owners of the hostel if there were any way she could work for them. They told her she could work the front desk full-time in exchange for room, board, and little bit of extra money—all under the table, of course. She jumped at the chance.
“So how long are you staying here for?” I ask.
“My three months is up in a month.”
I make a frowny face. “That sucks.”
She shoots me an impish smile. “I’ll be back. Luca is making sure of that.”
“Who is Luca?”
“The man I’m going to marry.”
And then she launches into another story, this one far more exciting than the last one. On her second week of working here, she ended up running into a local cop. He was hot, and it was love at first sight. Now that she has to leave the country (Americans can only be here for three months at a time), Luca is building a case to bring her back in seven months. If they can prove they’re serious about each other and intend to marry one day, she can get a permit to work here for longer.
“Wow,” I tell her when she’s finished. “I was just thinking this town was like a movie set, and now this is like movie love.”
She blushes. “I know it’s rather fast. No one takes our relationship seriously, not even his mother. But I do love him and he loves me and I know this is the right thing to do. So why not take the chance, you know? If it doesn’t work out, at least I’ll have a hell of a story.”
“You already do have a hell of a story.” I’ll admit that even though I think it’s sweet and romantic, the jaded and cynical side of me thinks it is a bit ridiculous that she’s doing all of this for a man, that you could even fall in love that fast. But that’s probably because I’ve been screwed over by men a few times already on my travels.
“See,” she says, pulling out her phone and showing me a picture. “This is Luca. You’d stay for him, wouldn’t you?”
I let out a low whistle. Luca is hot. Dark-skinned with piercing, light eyes. And he’s tall, too. Not that that’s too out of the ordinary—it’s just that everyone warned me that Italian men would be short and hairy. So far, I haven’t found that to be the case at all.
“Nice,” I say to her. “Well, I wish you both the best and hope it all works out.”
She shrugs. “Life works out the way it wants to.”
“Uh-huh.” And then I remember the real reason why I came to talk to her. “Listen, I’m having some financial difficulties at the moment. You know, overdid it a bit in London and all that. Anyway, I was wondering if you knew if there was any work available for someone like me?”
Her eyes narrow slightly. “Well, there’s no work here.”
Relax, I think. I’m not after your job.
“Oh, I don’t mean here, per se. I just meant in town. Or in the area. Even Sorrento or Salerno.”
She purses her lips and thinks. “Well, there would be jobs in Salerno, but you don’t want to work there. Have you tried the English café down the street? Sometimes they need English speakers. There’s also a work notice board for foreigners. Usually the jobs posted are one-offs for guys, like a day spent painting a house or something like that. But sometimes you can get lucky.”
This sounds promising. “And it’s just down the street? It’s a long street . . .”
Amanda smiles, pulls out the hostel map, and begins to mark up a path for me. “Follow the road all the way to here and then take these stairs here. You’ll come to Bar Darkhouse. Beside it, kind of tucked in the back, is Panna Café.”
“Thank you,” I tell her, folding the map before shoving it in my bag.
I walk down the streets with an extra spring in my step. The air is fresh (when you’re not inhaling diesel fumes) and the sun is warm, baking my bare arms. I’m feeling a bit optimistic about the whole money problem now. If Amanda can find work here, I can, too.
That should also go to say that if Amanda can find love here, I can, too. But thankfully, that is the last thing I’m looking for. I’ve had enough fun and heartbreak during this trip, falling for boys who either have their hearts set on someone else (like Josh in New Zealand) or who love you and leave you (like the Icelandic boy, Kel, who I spent a sex-filled week with in Prague). No, the next guy I was going to fall for was going to be a Nor Cal boy when I returned back home to San Jose. No drama, no heartache, no tragic goodbyes.
No fun either, I think to myself, but I quickly push that thought away.
The café is easy enough to find but it takes me a while to get there. The town is so pretty and tightly packed with storefronts, and I want to linger in every single one of them. Eventually, I get there and order an espresso at the bar. Unlike most cafés in Italy, this one actually has tables and chairs where you can sit down and sip your drink, obviously catering to tourists. But at this point I’ve gotten used to doing quick shots of coffee while standing up. It’s at least more efficient.
After I ask the British barista if they’re hiring and get a big fat no, she points me to the corner of the café where the notice board is. Though most of the postings are actual flyers for parties or advertisements for ceramic sales, there are a few work notices.
One of them looks fresh—none of the phone number and e-mail strips on the notice have been torn off.
Need help. Want English speaking woman. Two children. Must be good to young children and help with language. Fluency needed. Italian is helpful to have. Please e-mail Felisa. Locate to Capri.
I quickly take the notice off of the board before anyone else notices. Like hell I’m going to compete for this job. Even though I’m not really sure what it entails other than possibly teaching English to two kids, or what it pays, or if it includes room and board, I’m not going to give up the opportunity. If it doesn’t work out, then I’ll just put the ad back.
I immediately connect to the café’s Wi-Fi on my cell phone and write an e-mail to Felisa. I make myself sound as good as possible: Graduated from San Jose State with a B.A. in English. Worked as a receptionist for a prestigious manufacturing company (before I was fired). Great with children (I think I babysat once when I was fifteen). Willing to work on Capri, provided help with housing is included. Spent a great deal of time building up life skills while traveling Southeast Asia. Know how to bake a mean tiramisu.
That last part is a lie but I thought they might find it endearing.
I press send and then wait.
And when I realize I’m not going to get a response right away, I head to the bar next door, taking the work notice with me.
I don’t get a reply until the next morning. I didn’t sleep well, between obsessing over how to get home and trying to ignore the sounds of Hendrik and Ana having sex. You’d think I’d be used to public dorm room copulation by now, but I’m not. It’s one of those things you don’t want to get used to because then that means you should probably reexamine your life.
When I check my e-mail on my phone, all bleary-eyed, I see that Felisa wants me to meet her at the dock at four this afternoon. It doesn’t say anything else. Not what she looks like or if I need to bring anything or where we’re going. I mean, the dock? She’s not actually thinking of doing the job interview on the island of Capri, is she?
But as many questions as I have, I’m also excited. Because this is promising. And it was so easy. One e-mail and bam! I might just be teaching English to two cute Italian children. I bet they’re just darling and say mama and eat politely. Sure, I don’t have a lot of experience with children, but I figure I might become a mother one day so this is good practice. I mean, the maternal instinct has to be in me somewhere.
I tell Ana and Henrik that I’m meeting someone down at the dock. I haven’t told them about my financial problems and don’t plan on it, so they’re a bit suspicious about this meeting, even when I try to play it off as if I met a guy yesterday and I’m meeting up with him again.
I mean, it could be true, in a way. I assume that the children will have a father and he might want to interview me, too.
I leave at three o’clock because the hill takes its time to wind down, and Italians walk slowly (yet drive frighteningly fast). I’m at the dock with plenty of time to spare.
Positano is absolutely gorgeous from the water and the pebbled beach is packed with bronzed men in Speedos and brightly-striped umbrellas and chairs. Tiny boats and Jet Skis zip back and forth, sloshing the low dock with water. I stand there and wait, my face to the sun, still pinching myself that I’m here, in Italy, and it’s a gorgeous day.
Time seems to drag on a bit. I look across the dock and slowly realize that no big ships are docking here, only small boats. I look over to my left and notice a large hydrofoil pulling out from the area around the rocks.
Oh shit. Is that the dock she meant? Have I been standing in the wrong place this whole time?
I whip out my phone and look at the time. Four ten. Just fucking great.
I’m about to start running across the beach toward the bigger ships when a woman yells out. “Hey you!”
I stop in my tracks, pebbles flying everywhere and getting in my sandals, and see a woman striding toward me. She’s short and round with gray hair pulled off her face, showcasing her very sharp nose. She’s still beautiful, though, in an older, classy woman way. Or she would be if she didn’t look so scowl-y.
“Show me your hands,” she says in a thick accent, stomping over to me, and for a moment I’m afraid that this is all a misunderstanding. Is she mistaking me for a thief or something?
But I have no time to say anything. She grabs my hands, turning them over and back again. “Okay, fine,” she says and peers at my face. Her eyes are a light gray. “You will do. Come on.”
And then she starts to storm away, hiking up her skirt so it doesn’t brush against the pebbles.
What the fuck was that?
“Um, excuse me,” I call after her, unsure whether I should follow or who she even is. “I think you have me mistaken for someone else.”
She shakes her head and keeps walking. “No. You are Amber. Come or we miss the boat.”
“Felisa?” I ask and then run after her, my soles slipping all over the place. “How did you know who I was?”
“Only tourists would go to wrong dock,” she says. She eyes me over her shoulder. “Also, I Google you. You have many pictures.”
Well, I have been updating my travel blog quite often. At least I know someone’s looked at it.
I walk fast to keep up with this woman. I’m a short girl with short legs, and though Felisa seems to be the same height, she walks like a giraffe, with impossibly long strides. It’s not long until I’m panting, totally out of breath, and we’re standing in front of one of the hydrofoils. A few people are dragging their luggage onto metal ramps that move with the swell of each wave.
“What are we doing?” I ask.
Felisa hands two tickets over to the man collecting them.
“You come to the house, you meet the children. And Signor Larosa.”
So many things happening at once.
“Wait, wait,” I protest, reaching out to grab Felisa’s elbow.
She shoots me daggers so I quickly let go, but at least I’ve stopped her.
“Sorry,” I say quickly. “I didn’t know I would be going to the island. How would I get back?”
“Tomorrow there is a ferry. Many ferries.”
The ticket guy is eyeing us warily now.
“But where do I stay? I don’t have any money. I’ve paid for my hostel here in full.”
“You stay in the house.”
“Signor Larosa’s. Where the children are.”
“Is he their father?”
She shakes her head. “Older brother. Long story.”
“How much older?”
“Older!” she yells. “Now come on, we will miss it.”
The ticket guy clucks his tongue in agreement.
I sigh, feeling all out of sorts, and follow Felisa onto the ramp and inside the ferry. She takes a seat on one side of the main aisle in the middle of the ship. I notice that everyone is kind of arranged the same way, with few people on the outer edges. I wonder why but there are bigger things to wonder about.
I sit down next to her. “Okay, let’s start again.”
“You start tomorrow, when you get your things back from Positano.”
“But you haven’t interviewed me yet. You don’t know if I’m right for the job.”
“You are on the ferry right now, aren’t you?” she asks, giving me a sharp look. “Then you are right for the job. You could have said no. Also, you have nice, strong hands and you need those when handling children. Now I have to bring you to Signor Larosa and see how you are with him. And the children.”
“Why is it important to see how I get along with him?”
She sighs, as if I should know all of this. “He is difficult. So are the children. But he is even more so. Hopefully he will pretend you don’t exist. If you annoy him, you will know it well.”
“And who are you?”
“I am the housekeeper,” she says with a slight tip of her chin. “I have kept the children and the house in line since their parents died. But now is time for the children to learn proper English. Signor Larosa speaks it well, as do I, but it is not good enough for them.”
“His parents, who made it their wish in their will. So we are looking for a teacher. The last three we had all left. Stayed one week.”
Oh, Jesus. This is starting to sound like the beginning of a horror movie.
“In the ad I asked if you were good with young children. You said you were.”
Actually, the ad said, good to young children. And of course I thought that meant if I spoiled them with candy and gave them gold stars for effort.
She waves her wrinkled hand at me. “It doesn’t matter. They will be less of a problem.”
“Their brother. Desiderio Larosa,” she repeats impatiently. She turns her head and peers at me, as if searching for cracks. “If you can handle that man, then you can handle the children. Then you can handle anything.”
At that she presses her lips together, closes her eyes, and appears to fall asleep right in front of me. She doesn’t even wake up when the hydrofoil picks up speed and starts to rock back and forth violently, waves splashing high against the sides of the boat. I spend the whole ferry ride wondering if I can make it to the bathroom to puke in time and if we’re all going to die on the high seas. That would be a change from falling to my death.
I’m also wondering who this mysterious Desiderio Larosa is, and just what the hell I’ve gotten myself into.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not a fan of tis book at all really! I've enjoyed all her other books, bu this on got on my nerves! I liked Amber's character in the last book so I was looking forward to this one. But she grated on mine here. She was whiny and irritating and it was like she was 4 instead of 24! I finished it, but it was hard to. Fell flat for me.
Racing the Sun was phenomenal. I couldn't put it down, and finished the novel in a little under 24 hours. The story of Derio and Amber is heartfelt and raw, full of love, trials, forgiveness and finding yourself. This is a must read! Also, be sure to check out Karina's other book, Where Sea Meets Sky, to learn about Amber's early travels.
3.5 Stars Reviewed by Francesca and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog I was sold on this story from the moment Karina Halle announced she would be traveling to Italy to do the research for this story. That’s my hometown! I had to see what she did with it. I am pleased to find that Ms. Halle captured the true essence of Italy and the people, without shoving the stereotype easily found everywhere else down our throats. Now onto the story. We meet Amber in WHERE SEA MEETS SKY, she’s the heroine’s cousin traveling around the world from the US. You can tell she has some issues at home and then there’s the fact she sort of developed a crush on the hero of that book. We know how that ends up. So she continues her travels alone, and ends up in Italy. At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact this woman was traveling alone and quite literally without money. She’s run out of funds and her parents are not sending her any more and she finds herself stuck in Italy without a way to even buy her return ticket home. My brain cells couldn’t cope! So she has to take on a job in order to save up money to leave before her visa expires and that’s where she meets brooding (to everyone but her it seems) Desiderio Larosa. Color me happy because I loved this hero. Yes, maybe it’s the Italian playboy thing, or maybe the fact he rides a fast bike, but he pushed most of my buttons. I can definitely say the hero of this story was the best part for me. He’s struggling with so many things that I don’t want to get into so I don’t spoil the story. It was really nice to see him get to a point where he could start healing. Amber on the other hand I found a bit immature for my taste. See my previous issue above. But her attitude at times was a bit childish and got on my nerves. Their romance however developed nice and steady. Nothing too rushed. But an immediate sizzle that quietly grew to explosive. Something Ms. Halle knows how to write well. As much angst as these two could pack in their romance, it was an entertaining read once it got going. A bit slow for me to start and get into it. I would’ve liked to see a better ending, it all sort of rushed to a conclusion after a problem was thrown in. I didn’t buy that quick resolution. We’ve been on a wild ride with these characters and their adventures around the world. Although I still prefer LOVE, IN ENGLISH to this new series, there is one thing I have come to love. Being totally transported to another place. A place you may have always wanted to explore. And these books can give you that. All in a quaint and romantic way. Even if they carry a bit of unnecessary angst to go along with them. I am looking forward to seeing what this series will bring next.
This week I visited the city of Capri and fell in love with Derio and Amber, and two little matching twins! Karina is such an amazing descriptive scenery writer that I was vividly able to picture every landscape and blue patch of water that she introduced to us in Racing The Sun. But what always brings me back to her titles is her ability to write travel romance but provide a completely different story each time, each one is entirely different from the last and I find myself adding new countries to my bucket list! After reading RTS I wanted nothing more than to sit on an outdoor balcony with Derio while overlooking the deepest, blue sea and him whispering sweet Italian nothings in my ear... I raise my brow. Is he asking me to sit on his face? Because I'll totally do that. Now that's my girl, Amber did not irritate me one time, and usually every heroine does at least once. But I loved her lost spirit and her honesty even when it was hard for her to express it. Her willingness with the twins floored me but her insecurities of becoming a full time nanny totally unannounced and unwelcomed came with real fears, and brought a few of her own insecurities to the surface. Never the less she was loyal and I adored the intensity of her emotions and truth that she possessed. "I wish my tongue was my fingers. I wish I could taste you from the inside." A man who loves frost a lady's cupcake is my favorite kind of man! Derio was so brooding and sexy, I love how his character evolved throughout the book and I mean come on, he's Italian! Enough said. But goodness he was was so fierce in all things he did whether he was mad, content, mad again, or possibly happy he did it full force there were no in betweens with him. However, I did hope for a few chapters in Derio's POV just to have a little more insight on his inner thoughts. The chemistry between these two shone from the beginning it just needed a little push, and once it got going, I was addicted! But how do you have a relationship with your employer all while caring for his younger twin siblings? Along with sporadic mood swings, troubled pasts threatening any kind of future, and the complications of an expiring VISA... Is an intense love enough to overcome all the things that seem to hinder these two...? I will admit I was on edge for quite some time holding my breath for so long I may have turned as pale as Amber! Overall I am pleased with Racing The Sun and to see that Karina's "pervyness" is still there and amazing! I'm hoping to possibly see a book for Shay sometime in the future cause I feel like that girl will be my kind of wild...
A sexy, sultry, and smart summer read was something that I’d been missing so far this season, and I certainly found a book that fit the bill in Karina Halle’s latest standalone romance release, Racing the Sun. Amber and Derio have wound their way into my heart, and I’m glad that I got to spend the time that I did in their beautiful world on the isle of Capri. Amber has been backpacking abroad for several months when her money finally runs out in Italy. Her parents won’t bail her out any more–even after they’ve sold her car to both teach her a lesson and give her more money to hopefully return home soon. But Amber doesn’t have much to return home to since she’d been fired from an entry-level, dead-end job that had nothing to do with her college degree, or the fact that she lives with her smothering, overbearing, and judgmental parents at the age of twenty-four. So Amber scans the jobs bulletin board and answers an ad for a private English teacher for a few children, which she’s whisked away to Capri the next day and given the job much to her surprise. Amber is now charged with teaching English to two exceptionally bratty siblings who are in the care of their much older brother after their parents died in a boating accident two years earlier. Once Amber moves into the house and starts teaching the seven-year-old twins, she finds that she enjoys using her English degree and spending time with the children around the beautiful island. But the mysterious and brooding hot-and-cold older brother Desiderio is another story altogether. Amber knows that she only has two months left before her travel visa runs out and she must return home, but can she fight her growing attraction to Derio? Amber is such a rich, lively, and vivacious main character. She comes to life in Capri and starts to stand up for herself as she awakens to the world around her. When she unexpectedly becomes the nanny, not just the English teacher, she steps up her game instead of completely freaking out like an immature person would do. Amber realizes that her life might just be right–right there on Capri. Older brother Derio has definitely dealt with his share of personal tragedies in the past two years. Losing his parents in a deadly boating accident has scared him deeply, but he also suffered the loss of his motorcycle racing career after a crash last year took away his confidence in the seat. This caused his wife to flee their marriage for a more successful racer, leaving Derio all alone and even more closed off than ever. When Amber comes into his life, he’s practically a zombie–letting the nanny take care of the twins and the household–and hiring Amber is one of the first signs of life that he’d shown in recent times. He’s a man who’s lost his confidence, his parents, his wife in the span of a few years, all while having to take on a crumbling villa and the care of two young siblings. This contemporary romance hit all of the right notes for me with a heroine who realized that she was strong enough to pull the angsty hero out of his funk, all while set on the stunning backdrop of the isle of Capri. The writing was so vivid and descriptive that I felt like I was walking along side Amber, Derio, and the twins when they went on their adventures. Karina Halle’s writing has grown so much, and she’s so great at writing scenes that are full of emotion and meaning. Free copy received from Atria didn't affect my opinion in any way.
Lemons & Italian men come together in this incredible story of self-discovery and romance under an Italian sun. RACING THE SUN was a vacation for your mind and a chance to fall in love with a place you've never been to. Halle's descriptive writing puts you on a ferry to Capri with Amber, a girl who is holding out for a miracle because she's got nothing left to lose. She's out of money, time and patience; her euro trip is so close to ending but she's not ready to give up her newfound freedom. Amber answers an ad for a live-in English teacher and her life is irrevocably changed. Derio is the legal guardian of his two younger siblings, a pair of adorable kids who are grieving the loss of their parents, just like Derio is. He hires Amber to teach them English and you can tell he kind of falls for Amber's charm and wit immediately (but he doesn't necessarily show it!) Derio lost his parents, his love, and his ability to move on the night of the accident. Meeting Amber made him come face-to-face with a lot of the pain he was holding onto; his heart was grieving, but not moving on. I loved living through Amber's eyes and feeling her fall in love with Italy, the culture, the feeling of freedom, the incredible difficulty of being responsible for someone other than herself and the overwhelming sense of finding love in a mysterious place. Halle keeps you falling in love and leaves you in a puddle of wanderlust. Derio and Amber are magic together. They learn so much about each other and how to handle the incredible feeling of being in love and not knowing where to go from there. If you are looking for the perfect summer escape -- the kind of summer read that makes you want to buy a one-way ticket to Capri -- this is your story.
For the several hours it took me to read this book, I was transported to Italy with no desire to return home. I completely fell in love with this setting, the story, and the characters. Karina’s words were magical and left me entirely too engulfed in this story to focus on much of anything else. Amber is “traveling the world” as she had dreamed of, and is now in Italy with only a few months left before her Visa expires, and she’s completely broke. Her search for a short-term job brings her to Capri where she will be teaching a set of young twins the English language. The twins are less than welcoming with a horrible attitude bordered on miserable, only to be topped by their older brother, Derio. After the loss of their parents, this family is struggling to find themselves and function in their new life. Amber isn’t sure this is the job for her, dealing with such a group of horrible attitudes, but she feels compelled to take it so she can earn enough money to purchase the plane ticket her trip back home. And this is where this amazing story begins. This is my guilty pleasure type of story. The bad boy with the attitude meets the sweet naive girl who’s just trying to find herself. Yes, it’s been done before… but it was done RIGHT this time around! I loved the sexual tension between these two, the way the sparks were flying continuously. This story wasn’t all romance though. Not in the least. These characters are all dealing with their own issues, and together they must learn to overcome them and move on. The twins are grieving the loss of their parents, and can’t seem to get a grasp on the fact that everyone isn’t going to leave them. Their nanny, Felisia, has been like a parent to this family, but even she’s is finding herself about to give up. Derio has completely shut himself off to the outside world, spending most of his days locked alone in his office doing God knows what. And Amber has a deathly fear of heights, which brings on uncontrollable panic attacks that are causing her extreme distress on a far-too-often basis. One thing that really annoyed me in this story was the horrible parental presence. Though the Larosa family was parentless, they at least had Felisia who was like a mother to them. Amber’s parents were in the picture, but they were horrendous. They continually put her down and said such horribly-offensive things to her. I cringed every time they were involved in the story in any way, shuttering at the thought that there were actually parents like those in this world. I also liked the little added side story about Derio’s past and how he was a motorcycle racer. My husband races motorcycles (not on a professional level, more of a hobby) so I immediately connected with the rush and fear this type of hobby can have on those around you. What I love most about Karina’s books is the amount of research she must do to bring her story settings to life. It’s not like other stories where they mention the setting, but only basic info as you would find doing a Google search. No. Karina is obviously traveling the world and visiting these places personally. The descriptions she uses throughout the story make the reader feel as though they are right there with the characters, experiencing it all first-hand. I’ve never been to Capri, but after reading this story I feel as though I just came back from a vacation there. And the cave scene… *goose bumps* This book was.... (Thanks to AtriaBooks for the review copy!)
Sultry NA Romance set in Italy I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Racing the Sun by Karina Halle is a NA romance set in Italy—specifically the Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri. Twenty-four-year-old Amber McLean is a disgruntled NA who doesn’t get along with her parents and would love to find a reason not to return home to California, where she would be forced to become a responsible adult by her parents. Traveling across Europe has depleted Amber’s savings. With only enough money to reach the Amalfi Coast, she finds a job teaching English to two children on the island of Capri—but she soon discovers that her new life and job are more complicated than she expected it to be. Derio is a sullen 29 year old who has known many tragedies. He and his much younger twin siblings are barely surviving the tragedy that took their parents. He is handsome, brooding and quiet. Amber likens him to Beast from Beauty and The Beast. Amber and Derio don’t fall instantly in love. They develop a tenuous friendship before acknowledging their romantic interest in one another. I appreciated the normality of the pace that their relationship progresses. Amber and Derio are a perfect match. The ups and downs of their relationship and personal trials make for an interesting and entertaining read. The ending is perfect for their diverging lives. The evocative description of Capri, Naples and Positano are wonderful If you haven’t been there before, you will be planning a trip before the end of the book. If you are lucky enough to have traveled to this part of the world, you’ll remember every sight, smell and taste. Ms. Halle awakens all of your senses in her descriptions of the sweet, sultry life in southern Italy. Racing the Sun is sun-dappled and citrusy; it is the perfect read for summer. ***Review has been done in conjunction with Nerd Girl Official.
I just love Karina Halle’s books. (Her contemporaries, anyhow. I’ve been too much of a chicken to read her horror series. One of these days…) I fell head over heels in love with Love, in English when I read it last year and I’m thrilled it has spun off into what’s essentially a standalone series. Love, in Spanish was a wonderful conclusion to Vera and Mateo’s story. Vera’s brother Josh’s story, Where Sea Meets Sky, made me want to embrace my own inner wanderlust and travel the world (and, you know, hopefully find love in the process). With Racing the Sun, it’s time for Amber’s story and I couldn’t wait to learn more. We originally met Amber in Where Sea Meets Sky. I liked her character in that book, but she wasn’t the main focus so I didn’t form any strong attachments to her. In this book, however? I absolutely adored her. I found it so easy to get inside her head and experience the story from her perspective. She was a strong, smart woman and I found it really easy to be in her corner for the duration of the book. I loved her journey and how she matured over the course of this story. Derio. Oh, Derio. How does Karina write such amazingly complicated, wonderful men every single time? How can you not fall for the quiet, brooding, sexy older brother of your charges? As much as I loved this guy though, I also wanted to smack him silly at times. He was so completely clueless about how his actions affected Amber sometimes. His life was on hold for a few years because of circumstances out of his control, so I felt like he should have been more aware that he was pretty much doing the same thing to Amber. I really enjoyed how the romance progressed between Amber and Derio. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, but over time. It felt real. It was romantic and sexy. I enjoyed their banter and the oodles of chemistry between them. Their love was complicated, but there was no doubt it was also real. This book was sexy at times, but it was also quite emotional. I was so invested in Amber’s character and her relationship with Derio that there were definitely tears. This is definitely a book of the “feel all the feels” variety. Racing the Sun is another beautifully-written novel about complicated love and everything that comes along with it. Karina’s writing style is such that not only do I feel every emotion the character is feeling, but it’s like I’m right there with them. Her descriptions of the settings and scenery are so detailed, so vivid, that I don’t even need to have prior knowledge of a place to be able to picture it fully. I just love her attention to detail when it comes to setting the scene for any one of her books. She always has a way of making me want to get a passport, jump on a plane and never look back. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.