by Caitlin Conway

February 2003
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Carrie Erickson is spending the last week of her one-month vacation in Italy in Capri. Healing a broken heart, she has so far been able to ignore the constant advances of the attractive Italian men scattered throughout the country. That changes when she sees Paolo Reggio across from her in an outdoor café. Paolo Reggio is the most attractive man she has ever seen. Just like the beauty of the island, his dark handsome looks inspire her sketching fingers as the sweet smell of wisteria tantalizes her senses. The scent of wisteria is something she will never forget.

Though Paolo and Carrie have never met, it’s as though they have known each other all their lives. They begin a relationship, which is so wonderful that Carrie extends her stay in Italy. For the first time in her life, she knows what love really is. Then suddenly, Paolo has to return home to handle some “family business”. He and Carrie have spent the days and nights making love, but they have never really talked of the future. After he’s gone, what is Carrie to think, especially when one of Paolo’s acquaintances and the newspaper are saying Paolo is about to be married? The only thing Carrie can think is that it’s time to go home. Too late she remembers what her mother said about avoiding Italian men and using protection; she’s pregnant.

After not seeing each other for five years, it is fate that Paolo and Carrie meet again in Rome, and the fire between them is as strong as ever. But they still have not learned to communicate. Will things that have been left unsaid destroy their future or will the scent of wisteria allow them to make their dreams a reality?

The plot began with admirable intentions, but somehow along the way, the purpose was lost in the too often flat dialogue, a monotonous writing style, and unexciting characters.

To me, Carrie was trifling and somewhat dense. I could see very little growth in the Carrie introduced at the beginning of the novel and the Carrie five years down the road.

Besides the floral deliveries, Paolo lacked the romance and sensitivity I expected in a good-looking, charming Italian. In the end, his relationship with Carrie came across to me as something that was probably based more on sex than on real affection.

Carrie’s sister, with her spirited personality, brought a little charm to the story, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the general lack of character development.

The only thing that saved this book for me was the scent of wisteria. I took more pleasure in reading about the wisteria than I did the actual story. Whereas she might have failed to appease me in other areas, Caitlin Conway has touched me with her vivid word pictures. Her descriptions of the beauty of Capri and the scent of wisteria were brilliantly inspiring.

For that reason, The Scent of Wisteria is a romance that will make you smile every time you see a flower in bloom.

Reviewed in March 2003 by Natasha.

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