The House by the Cypress Trees by Elena Mikalsen, another book being brought to you by Suzy Approved Book Tours. Once again Suzy’s taste in books and authors do not disappoint. It’s no wonder she’s one of the most popular PR organizers for book tours out there, I can’t keep up with her.
About the book:
A Texas teacher and a London architect, stranded in Tuscany after rescuing a dog in Rome…What could go wrong?
Julia Ramos, in Italy to find her birth mother, rescues a dog, is nearly run over by a handsome Brit, and gets evicted from her rental apartment. Not a perfect trip.
Daniel Stafford wants to visit his family in Tuscany—after his girlfriend dumps him for their Italian driver, he botches a work presentation in Rome, and an assertive American falls in front of his car.
When their two disastrous lives collide, they end up sleeping on the side of the road. Falling in love with Italy—and each other—is the least of their concerns.
Elena Mikalsen’s writing makes it easy for readers to be swept away. Travel with Texas-native, Julia, whose first international trip to Italy in search of her birth mother takes a romantic detour. Set in a sun-soaked Italy, The House by the Cypress Trees is a treat for the senses. Beautiful food, wine, and romance, along with a gorgeous setting make this novel hard to put down! –Sarahlyn Bruck, bestselling author of Designer You
Mikalsen takes us on a charming ride through scenic Italy, as delightful as a luscious bite of a fresh apricot. And like a rich glass of Chianti, Julia and Daniel’s love story intoxicates. -Carrie Callaghan, author of A Light of Her Own
The House by the Cypress Trees, Elena Mikalsen’s newest novel, is a charming love story between a British architect and an American school teacher. It is also a whirlwind tour of Italy from Rome to Tuscany. Both are from incomplete families with one parent deceased, yet they find extended families in Italy. A fun read with authentic details of gorgeous Tuscany. -Suanne Schafer, author of A Different Kind of Fire & Hunting the Devil
This is another one of those reviews where I don’t quite know where to start. I’m sitting here struggling trying to put into words how I feel, and suddenly Andrea Bocelli”s Con Te Partiro starts to play, and I am covered in goosebumps. And there it is….. right there, exactly how this book made me feel. OMG I still have all the feelies. Can this song be over already??? Coincidence about that song? Oh, I don’t think so.
When you read the synopsis for The House by the Cypress Trees you immediately think of a cute little quirky romcom (right up my alley). Check off box #1. Then the book starts out with a young, single girl alone in Italy for the first time, who spontaneously rescues a puppy. Check off box #2 and #3 (Come on people a PUPPY)! So now you are just as sold as I am, right? Enter sexy British business guy. Ok, I will stop checking boxes. This one has hit the mark. But you see, thats not all, this is not just a simple friends to lovers, throw in a cute pet, kinda comical romance. This book makes you fall in love, oh yes, I said love.
See, there’s substance to this book. These characters have backstory, and you really start to feel for them. Julia Ramos an American from Texas who has been touched by tragedy. She is alone in Italy trying to find a birth mother she never even knew existed, and now feels like she has lost the only family she has ever known. As her trip to Italy slowly spirals downhill (just because she seems to have my luck and everything that can go wrong will go wrong) she happens to almost get hit by a car being driven by a gorgeous British guy. Daniel (gorgeous British guy) has his own problems. His love life is a mess, he is unhappy at work, has just botched a huge work deal and just wants to get to Tuscany to see his sister. Now he almost hit a tourist (Julia) with his rental car and his trip seems to be spiraling downwards on the same path as Julia’s. Somehow with this one chance meeting, these two worlds collide and Julia and Daniel end up helping each other out of kindness, convenience, and some pretty strong internal feelings too. The story is told in alternating point of view which really helps you understand the emotions each of them are feeling at the exact same time, and they are really pretty detailed too.
As Daniel and Julia help each other on their journey we continue to learn more about the characters, their family, their personal life, and the people they love. They become people with hearts, emotions and tragedies, and we feel right along with them. It’s a romance that seems so crazy but you want them together so badly you read the book in one sitting just to see how things end up. I laughed, I cried, I got angry at Daniel’s family, I wanted to move to Italy, and I gained 20 pounds and got drunk just by proxy.
But thats not all. This book, it is about Italy, architecture, wine making, baking, culture, family and yes, love. Elena Mikalsen researched this area and country so well. The writing is so effortless yet you have no idea how much work she put into the premise of this book. How do I know? Take a look at her website. (link below) Elena traveled to this area. She has photos of places that inspired the book. Gorgeous, amazing, wonderful photos. She has a dedicated Pinterest board with photos that helped inspire clothing, characters, food, and even puppy Lizzy to create this amazing tale. She’s been to the area, she eaten the food, she’s seen the sights, and she’s taken every ounce of those memories and found a way to put them on paper to make each of us fall in love with it too. And if thats not enough? Right there on that blog page is a beautiful custom soundtrack for the novel made by Elena that can be listened to and downloaded on Spotify. So, Con Te Partiro and Andrea Bocelli a coincidence? Nope, not at all, and I promise you when I go to Italy and visit all these exact places, I will have this soundtrack playing on my earbuds.
“Julia’s entire body melted into Daniel’s as they danced. Her heart beat with the rhythm of every note of the gorgeous song. Only the stars watched them as they moved slowly in the garden of this ancient land, on top of this magnificent hill, inhaling the aromatic fragrances of roses and herbs. Perhaps it was all magic and, at midnight, the spell would break and she’d find herself sitting in an old rag of a dress, in front of a pumpkin, holding a glass slipper. But then—did it matter? All that mattered was the way Daniel looked at her right now, how it felt when his fingers rubbed her back in small circles, sending electrical pulses all over her body. Andrea Bocelli stopped singing, Daniel’s hands moved away, and the spell broke. “Thank you,” she said, suddenly shy. “I haven’t danced in years.” “Someone should dance with you often, Julia Ramos,” he said, taking hold of her hand and leading her to the house.”
So no, this isn’t just your simple spicy romance (though it is quite spicy and quite good). It truly made me fall in love. I fell in love with the idea of romance again, the idea of falling in love again, the love of family, the love of a beautiful country, good food, amazing culture, phenomenal history, and one damn good glass of wine. This was one of the most enjoyable and heartwarming romances I have ever read. It had just enough spice, just enough snark, just enough sadness and heartbreak, and in the end just enough romcom to bring it all together. I read this in one sitting, cover to cover. There was no putting it down. Hands down a 5 star rating for overwhelming me with emotions, making me cry, and probably making me force my husband to take me to Italy a lot sooner than he thinks. Highly recommend. WOW.
I just would like to thank Elena Mikalsen, Suzanne Leopold of Suzy Approved Book Tours and (#partner) The Wild Rose Press, Inc. for the copy of this book for my unbiased and honest opinion for review.
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About the Author
My novels are all about love. WRAPPED IN THE STARS is about love that lasts forever. Two lovers, Mark and Rebecca, got separated in the early 20th century, but their love remained behind, it didn’t die. Part of their love stayed in the ring that Mark gave to Rebecca. So, when this ring is found years later, another couple picks up the energy from their Mark and Rebecca’s love and falls in love themselves.
In THE HOUSE BY THE CYPRESS TREES I explore romantic love. That wild feeling of new love when you first fall for someone and you want to spend every moment with them and you will do anything for them.
In ALL THE SILENT VOICES that will come out sometime next winter, I explore the depth of love between a husband and wife and what challenges a good marriage can withstand. How far will a wife go for her husband and how far will a husband go for his wife?
Finally, in the novel I am working on right now, CITY OF GLASS, the focus is on sibling love. A sister sacrifices everything to save her brother.
I am somewhat obsessive about travel, but, when I am at home, in San Antonio, I can be found browsing through bookstores or antique shops with my husband and two children.
When not writing stories, I am a Pediatric Psychologist helping children with chronic medical illness. I blog on issues of mental health for teens and adults. I enjoy working with the media due to my expertise in managing anxiety, stress, and parenting issues. I provide consultation to authors on writing about mental health.
Author Contact/Social Media
“Julia looked at Daniel. He walked, shoulders squared, slightly in front of her, biting on his upper lip. He was rather charming when he wanted to be. Like right now, when he looked back at her, stretching his arms for Lizzy, knowing she needed relief without her having to ask. Was this the British politeness she had always heard about? Or was it something more? It seemed as if they’d had some moments today, while sitting down and not dealing with disasters of one sort or another.
“Well, here we are,” Daniel said, looking around as if hoping his brother-in-law would suddenly materialize in front of them.
It was dark now, and fireflies became visible in the woods, floating between the tree trunks, filling the darkening skies with their flickers. “Look,” Julia said. “How magical.”
She realized she was perfectly fine with staying longer in the olive grove on top of a hill in Chianti. Nothing this exciting had ever happened to her before. And possibly never would again. Malcesine was filled with unknowns for her. Meeting her mother held nothing but anxiety. She might as well enjoy this part of her trip.
So Julia allowed herself to marvel at the view and pretend she didn’t have to go anywhere, didn’t have to give up her dog or her kind and handsome companion. She imagined having forever to stand there with the woods and the fireflies on one side and the hills with the spiraling rows of cypress trees on the other, inhaling the scents of apricots and lavender thick in the heat of the evening air.”
-Elena Mikalsen. The House by the Cypress Trees. 2019.
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