March 26, 2013
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I recently received an advance copy of Imperfect Parings (B+) by Jackie Townsend. I found this book enchanting. Most of the story takes place in Italy and is so well situated that I felt like I was there the entire time.
Jamie is a young woman working toward making junior partner at her firm, a position unlikely for a woman. Through her job she meets Jack an MIT graduate and engineer. They keep their relationship secret because it is against company policy. Jack receives a wedding invitation for a cousin in Italy. Only then, does Jamie realize that Jack is not an American but an Italian who’s real name is Giovanni.
Once in Italy, she is introduced to a very different Jack. His large family lives in a villa that surrounds a vineyard; a vineyard that Jack has inherited. While there, both their lives begin to change. Giovanni decides to take on the responsibility of keeping the vineyard running. Jamie starts to realize what it’s like to be part of a big family.
The story moves between the US and Italy at a pretty rapid pace. Jamie and Jack marry in order for Jack to get a green card. A marriage of convenience slowly becomes much, much more. Jamie is taken by surprise at the strong feelings she has for Jack, feelings she stifles most of the story. Giovanni begins to share his family secrets with Jamie, secrets that consume them both. The goal to make and sell the best wine from the Ruffoli vineyard is almost impossible to achieve but together Jamie and Giovanni accomplish great things both with the wine and their relationship. In the process, Jamie finally realizes her full self.
At times the story seemed to move too fast leaving me a bit confused. I think it mirrored the internal frenzy of both the characters. Jackie Townsend must come from an Italian family because coming from one myself; I know she got it right. Imperfect Pairings taught me some Italian and made me yearn for a sip of the wine they poured. I think you should taste it for yourself. You will find it molto bene!