Sunday, May 9, 2010

‘It Had to Be You’ by Janice Thompson – Book Review

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The latest book that I have read is one that I have been waiting for for quite a while – ‘It Had to Be You,’ Book Three in the ‘Weddings by Bella’ Series, written by Janice Thompson.  I had read Book Two in the series, ‘Swinging on a Star’ and loved it; you can read my review here.

To recap – the series involves us in the lives of the Rossi family from Galveston Island, Texas.  The main character, Bella Rossi, is a twenty-something wedding planner who has just taken over Club Wed, the family business after her parents have run it very successfully for many years.  Bella has decided to take the business in a different direction – planning themed weddings.  The Rossi family is a loving, friendly – and boisterous – Italian family, most of whom live under one big roof.  Bella’s mama, Imelda, is an opera singer who is always well put together.  Her pop is lactose-intolerant – a real hindrance in an Italian family!  Her sister, Sophia, follows in her mother’s footsteps.  Aunt Rosa, the sister of Bella’s mama, is a wonderful cook who had been featured on ‘The Food Network.’  Uncle Lazarro, the brother of Bella’s papa, owns a pizzeria named Parma John’s.  A handsome cowboy/construction company owner who will soon be a part of the Rossi clan is D.J. Neeley, Bella’s fiancé. 

Bella has the pleasure and the joy of planning the wedding of her Aunt Rosa and her Uncle Lazarro; they will have a forties-style swing dance-themed wedding.  They both live in the Rossi household; they had fought like cats and dogs, until a few months prior to their wedding.  All of a sudden, all of the pent-up feelings of love emerged, and they decided to spend the rest of their lives together as husband and wife. 

In addition to the stateside Rossi clan, the family members still in their native Napoli, Italy, flew over for the wedding, including Imelda and Rosa’s twin sisters, Bertina and Bianca, fifty-somethings who still dressed identically!  Also joining the festivities was Pop’s brother Emilio, accompanied by his much younger trophy wife, Francesca; they had just been married, which was news to the U.S. family members. 

Also included was Salvadore Lucci, Uncle Laz’s long-time friend from Atlantic City, who had arrived in a stretch limousine – just as had his parrot, Guido, who had been delivered to the Rossi household for safe keeping in that same stretch limo sometime prior in order to avoid some personal issues.  He came to Galveston Island to attend the wedding and to retrieve his bird; Laz had been teaching the parrot songs, sermons and Scriptures with the intent to win Sal to the Lord.  He came complete with a questionable background; had he really been a member of the Mob?  He also created quite a battle within the family when he voiced his less-than-positive opinion of Aunt Rosa to her intended…

Bella learned a valuable lesson as she overextended herself the week before her wedding, and had to rely on the help of her friends and family to complete the preparations.  She discovered that her worth was not based on her performance:

“Yes, I need God’s grace, but I need to grace myself sometimes, too.  I think I’ve been too hard on myself.  Been running in performance mode to prove my worth – to myself and others.  But this week I had a reality check.  God wants me to stop ad smell the roses.  To enjoy the people in my world and to remember how much more important than are the projects.  To thank him every day for my health and to take better care of myself.” (p. 314)

Mrs. Thompson, who has a Freelance Writing Course (you can read more about it here) lives in Texas herself and has personal experience as a wedding planner (both as a business and with her four daughters), spares no expense in the details.  As with ‘Swinging on a Star,' I enjoyed the fact that each chapter is named after a song title – ‘You Make Me Feel So Young,’ ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,’ ‘Moonlight Serenade,’ etc… 

There were a plethora of weddings and engagements to end this book – some expected and some unexpected!

I found  ‘It Had to be You’ to be a fun and enjoyable read!  Each book in the ‘Weddings by Bella’ series, stands alone, but they are so much fun, you will want to read all of them!  The first book in the series is ‘Fools Rush In,’ which is on my ‘Wish List’!

Mrs. Thompson writes with comedy, heartfelt compassion and a strong love of the Lord.  Here’s a perfect example from the last page of the book:

My, how far we had come.  And we had a certain Splendora cowboy to thank for it all.  Well, one cowboy and the Lord, who had clearly arranged all of this from the get-go.  Why had he brought our two families together, merging D.J. and me into the first Tex-Italian duo in our family’s history?  Only one reason I could think of – to add a little spice to our lives.
But oh, mama mia!  What a lovely spice! (p. 326)

I really loved the two books that I have read in this ‘Weddings by Bella’ series.  According to Janice, this is the last book in the series.  I certainly hope she starts up a new series featuring the new D.J./Bella Neeley household!

You can order this book here.

This book was provided to me for review purposes by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

4 comments:

B. J. Robinson said...

I enjoyed your review of Janice's book. I just posted one of Eva Marie Everson's This Fine Life to my blog. You make the entire Bella series seem well worth a read.

Andrea Schultz said...

Thanks, B.J. 'This Fine Life' is in my 'to read' pile, too!

Yes, the 'Weddings by Bella' series is worthwhile - a fun read!

Janice Thompson said...

Andrea, you are so sweet! Thanks so much for your kind words!

Andrea Schultz said...

Janice -

You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by and making such a sweet comment!

Blessings -

Andrea

 
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