Venice is most definitely its own character in my next two books, a Match Made in Venice and We’ll Always Have Venice (title TBC but I’m pretty sure that’s going to be it!!!!!) I’ll write more about that as we get closer to publication day, but for now I thought I’d share the reel I made when I was in Venice in August (set to the Rumatera song Venice, which has a distinctive sense of humour which I love and which definitely made it into the book as well). I also thought I’d post here the first page of a Match Made in Venice, so you can soak up some of the vibes!
Here is level-headed romance sceptic Didi setting out on her Venice errand:
It was a charming square, crowded with rendered buildings in warm colours, with stone balconies and coloured shutters. Patches of exposed brick and crumbling mortar gave it that shabby charm of a city that lived in a different era. Cafés welcomed tourists and locals alike to come in from the damp chill, one even advertising ‘Happy Hour’ at nine in the morning.
But that square was not where Didi was supposed to be and ‘happy’ didn’t describe her mood. She gripped the strap of her briefcase tightly and gave in. She was going to have to check her map. She’d rather do that than ask the man at the souvenir stand, smiling and shivering behind his ‘I heart Venice’ T-shirts and miniature gondolier hats.
It had been years ago that Didi had ticked Venice off her bucket list and she’d never felt the need to return, especially not at the beginning of December when the sun was little more than a wan smile on the watery city. But at least the weather meant she’d trotted across the Piazza San Marco in the moonlight last night without having to dodge selfie sticks.
Once she had oriented herself, she left the square at a brisk pace, dodging meandering pedestrians and a litter picker who was humming to himself. As she ducked between the grinning tourists on the stairs of one of the innumerable stone bridges she’d already crossed that morning, she noticed a gondola gliding beneath her, its angled prow elegantly negotiating the narrow canal. A couple sat rugged up beneath a plush blanket in the seats in front of the gondolier, smooching as though they didn’t care if they photobombed all the selfies in the city.
A couple holding hands blocked the alley in front of her and she had to squeeze past, clinging to her briefcase. She missed London already and she’d been gone less than a day. Why couldn’t anyone walk at a proper pace?
On the next bridge, a small crowd had gathered and they were snapping pictures and murmuring delighted exclamations that were almost as much the background noise of Venice as the gentle splash of an oar. Reluctantly curious, she peered along the canal, murmuring, ‘Excuse me,’ on repeat as she made her way across the bridge. A man was kneeling in the flat bottom of a gondola, holding up a jewellery box in an unmistakable stance. Ah.
‘How utterly romantic,’ she muttered. Several disapproving heads turned at her tone.
‘There’s always time for a romantic gondola ride!’ an enterprising gondolier called out and she was so shocked that he was talking to her that she stopped and stared at him.
‘Who with? My invisible boyfriend?’ she called back.
The gondolier smiled and shrugged in a manner that might have been charming if she’d been a tourist. He gestured with his phone. ‘You video chat. That’s what everyone does from Venice these days.’
Pre-order a Match Made in Venice to read more on 9 November!