A fake marriage to secure a family inheritance – sounds like an Austen novel, doesn’t it? But actually, it’s The Italian Marriage, the new contemporary romance by Jenna Lo Bianco. The wonderful team at Macmillan Aus were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

The Italian Marriage has an absolutely preposterous premise, more like a reality show than a family estate plan. Workaholic Matthew D’Adamo comes from a long line of wealthy Italians, and a centuries-old clause in the family trust requires that the male heir be married in order to inherit. Enter Sarah, a free-spirited events manager, willing to marry him (with an iron-clad prenuptial agreement) and hang out in Italy for a year, in exchange for a cut of the proceeds.

It’s the Florentine setting that really sells The Italian Marriage, and it will have you longing for a year-long Italian getaway of your very own. The chemistry between the leads is also undeniable. It’s almost enough to make up for the fact that the characters are cartoonish and two-dimensional. The leads are too-good-to-be-true, “my biggest flaw is that I work too hard” types, and the villains are snobbish smokers with evil laughs and expensive shoes. There are also odd perspective shifts between and around them at times, which can feel momentarily confusing for the reader.

If you’re looking to escape with an easy read, The Italian Marriage will certainly do the job. It would also be the perfect pick for readers trying to learn Italian, as you’ll frequently have to look up phrases from the dialogue. A lot of the nuance (and the comedy of the side character, Petunia) will be lost if you don’t dutifully punch all of the Italian lines into Google Translate.

Buy The Italian Marriage on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)