Meet the Characters – Lou Saunders from Italy Ever After by Leonie Mack

This week author Leonie Mack is interviewing her character Lou Saunders from Italy Ever After. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?


TV journalist Lou feels battered and bruised after her divorce from Phil, the father of her daughter Edie. Her confidence and sense of fun have steadily been drained away, and she isn’t sure who she is any more.

When the opportunity arises to accompany Edie on a music camp in Italy for a month in the summer, Lou jumps at the chance for new adventures, new horizons and new friends. The hazy warmth of the summer sun, shining brightly over the stunning Lake Garda, slowly brings Lou back to life.

Nick Romano, Edie’s music teacher, loves being home in Italy, but coaching his students for their concert in Milan, is bringing back difficult memories. His blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction, although a summer fling would be easier to conduct without the scrutiny of his mother Greta, not to mention the interference of his extended Italian family.

As the summer passes, full of sunshine and breath-taking scenery, gelato and delicious feasts, Lou and Nick get ever closer. But as the time for farewell creeps up on them, will they be able to say goodbye and leave their memories behind in the Italian sun, or can a summer romance last a lifetime?

Review quotes (Netgalley):

‘How I loved this book, so much so that I devoured it in one sitting!’

‘Mack deftly serves you a gorgeous slice of Italy and woos you through Lou and Nick’s love story with an aplomb that will have you checking the flight schedules to go.’

‘The author definitely knows how to write chemistry between the characters.’

‘I loved this story so much, such a heartwarming, romantic summer read.’

Universal buy link:

Now let’s move onto the interview with Lou

What started your love affair with this beautiful country, Italy?

I fell in love with the place the first time I caught a glimpse of Lake Garda from the front seat of a minibus! I was at a low point in my life—it was a few months after my divorce came through. I had the opportunity to go with my daughter on a music camp and I was really inspired to make something of it—of myself—on the trip.

I had my daughter when I was young—too young—and, with the pressure of a failing marriage, I’d never stepped out and tried anything new. I decided I’d use my free time to learn new skills and embrace being somewhere different. I called it my search for a talent, but that was a bit of a crock. I had reacted badly to a comment my ex-husband made about me having no talent and I allowed it to get in my head.

I thought I’d go all Eat, Pray, Love, you know—without the love!—but it turned out all I needed was a bit of perspective and to trust my instincts. Luckily there’s a lot of perspective to be had from the top of a mountain!

What activities did you try and which was your favourite?

I took workshops in perfume making, photography, cheesemaking, leatherwork and glass beads, most of which were fun, but, now that I look back on it, they were never going to be life-changing, were they? Who has a lightbulb moment while stirring curds and whey? Actually I boiled my curds and whey and killed the cultures because I was preoccupied with my crappy love life—which is really looking up now, though. Oh dear, you’ve made me blush!

With the group of teenagers from the UK, we also did SUP (stand up paddle boarding), which I was terrible at, but it was kind of fun. I even went foraging for mushrooms. And I hiked up a mountain, which I’m really proud of.

What about the music camp? How did it go?

Camps are always intense. The kids pulled together well—partly because they had an amazing conductor leading the rehearsals (although I must admit I’m biased). We stayed in the most perfect spot behind Malcesine on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. It’s a former convent, tucked up against the mountain with an olive grove in front and the most amazing views.

When the kids went to bed to look at their phones, the three teachers and three parents—and sometimes the stand-in manager of the convent, who happened to be the conductor’s mother!—would sit out on the terrace and have a glass of wine.

The competition at the end was stressful, especially because Nick—I mean Mr Romano, the conductor, and my daughter’s music teacher for the past six years—had to go back to his old school in Milan, which had painful memories for him. But he coped better than he thought he would.

I’m sensing romance, here.

You worked it out more quickly than I did! It was all very embarrassing to realise I had a huge crush on the teacher, but we got to know each other properly and then, thankfully, realised it was something big for both of us—which was lucky because my daughter started secondary school right afterward and I would never have seen him again!

What advice do you have for people travelling to the Lake Garda region?

Just go! There’s always something to find when you go somewhere new with your eyes open. There’s something for everyone. The food is amazing, and I don’t usually like fish. I couldn’t believe how good fresh olive oil tastes and there’s nothing like walking along the lake with an ice cream in one hand—especially with your other hand tucked into a special someone’s! There are castles and forests—lots of things for crazy sporty people, but if you’re not that sporty, like me, there’s a cable car and they’ve opened a funicular railway, too.

Did you learn any Italian?

I thought I was terrible at languages and it turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, you know. I joked about the meaning of the Italian words more than learning any, but when I go back for the olive harvest with Nick’s family, I’ll make more of an effort. Whenever I asked anyone, ‘Dove la stazione?’ (which is about the extent of my Italian and I’m sure it’s wrong, to boot), they’d reply in English. But, hey, I learned polenta and risotto and funghi! Most importantly, I learned ‘gelato’ and how to pronounce ‘stracciatella’, which is very important because ice cream with slivers of chocolate is my favourite.

Meet Leonie

Author bio:

Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great locations and big feelings. She loves a happy ending and shares that love in every book she writes!

Leonie is a journalism graduate, a language nut and loves to travel, particularly on foot, by bike and by train. After growing up in Australia and living most of her adult life in London, she now lives in Germany, among the vineyards on the river Main.

Twitter: @LeonieMAuthor

Instagram: @leoniejmack

Thanks so much for dropping by to tell us about your book, Leonie. Wishing you many sales!

Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.

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