trust me, I’m a… doctor?

Slick Dungeon here and I am just hanging out in the fifth room of my dungeon where I keep all kinds of less than stellar books. This week I read Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler.

But wait, what is this? What is this thing I found rolling around on the floor? It’s my new patent-pending, scientifically tested, completely reliable, totally untested and unscientific suckiness meter. This device will without fail let us know if something in a book sucks. Along with this meter, there is a set of instructions. They tell me that there is a rating scale. For every beep I hear while describing something in the book, that is a suckiness point. If there is no beep, I will remove a point. At the end we will discover if Summer in Tuscany sucks or not.

First, a very quick plot summary. An overworked doctor has to go to Italy because her mother inherited a villa where she grew up. As soon as she gets there, a land dispute breaks out with a handsome American man that we all know is going to end up with the main character. I have no idea why so many romance novels lately involve land disputes but whatever. Stuff happens, people hook up, there’s a wedding and we all knew the summer in Tuscany was going to end with a permanent residence there with said hunky man. Is this Doc Hollywood or Cars with the gender roles reversed? Basically yes.

Also, quick note, I listened to this on audio so if I misspell any names please forgive my unintentional error.

Suckiness meter activate!

  • The main character, Gemma, is a doctor but in the first chapter wonders if she should get breast implants. Does she not know how bad putting silicon in your body for no reason is for you? What kind of a doctor is she? +3 suckiness points for being a bad doctor.
  • Gemma is described as a hard, working, dedicated emergency room doctor in New York City, who does her best to help people, all while raising a teenage daughter on her own. No beeps. -1 suckiness point.
  • We learn pretty quickly she has a biiiig secret about a man named Chase Drummond who is a cowboy crossed with a surfer. I bet her secret is not all that bad! And seriously, Chase Drummond? I think he should have just been named Chiseled Manhunk. +4 suckiness points for overhyped masculinity and secrets that are not secrets.
  • Gemma’s mother Nona, is hiding that she has a heart defect from her own daughter who I may have mentioned is a doctor. I mean, I get you don’t want to tell your kid bad news but, free health care right?? +1 suckiness point for not using your own resources.
  • Nona has to go back to Italy because she is told by a shady lawyer type that she has inherited this massive property and is now a wealthy heiress. Gemma is going to disrupt her life, and take herself and her kid Olivia (who goes by Livie) for an entire summer to sort it out. I’ve heard much worse reasons to go to Italy so no beeps. -2 suckiness points.
  • The book really gets going once the fam arrives in Italy and there are beautiful descriptions of the scenery and the food described is mouth-watering. -3 suckiness points
  • They see all kinds of sights in this book including going up the stairs of the duomo in Florence but they never wait in line. +4 suckiness points for not making this completely fictional story seem more like reality.
  • Gemma seems to be lusting over virtually every dude she sees but she has promised herself she would remain celibate due to reasons involving that Chase guy from her past. Yeah right. +5 for unbelievability.
  • Gemma, as I have mentioned, is a doctor but at one point she wonders if the “sexy parts” (her words not mine) on her body are called the loins. Did you not have to take anatomy to become an ER doc?! +7 for making me crazy with annoyance at her poor job skills.
  • Gemma meets her love interest, a man named Ben Raphael who, I freaking kid you not, is super wealthy and has a daughter named Muffy. Muffy!! Is there a more stereotypical rich kid name ever? I think she should have been named Super Spoiled Rich Kid instead. +3 for the continuing trend of stupid names.
  • Nona gets her own cute little romance with a guy from the village who remembers her from way back when. I have no problem with this and kind of liked the part where they let the dog decide if they should get married. -2 suckiness points.
  • Livie goes on her first date, with some random Italian guy who thinks she is older than 14, and misses her curfew but kisses him. +9 suckiness points for a combination of bad parenting and predatory grossness.
  • Gemma is constantly questioning her looks, despite the fact that there is a man who is seriously in love with her and keeps telling her how attractive he thinks she is. Confidence, woman! Why do women in these books always have self esteem issues? +5 suckiness points for boring old romance tropes.
  • Ben Raphael is wealthy, handsome, divorced, in love with Gemma and runs a vaguely defined “business”. I think he’s probably doing something really shady to make his money. It never says that in the book, it’s just the obvious conclusion. +3 suckiness points for more romance tropes.
  • For a good part of the book Ben is living at the villa and when he wakes up one morning and the shower does not turn on, he immediately thinks Gemma is to blame. Here’s the thing though, she was kissing him just the night before and although they are in a bit of a legal dispute, she gave him no real reason to think she would do anything like that. Hmmmm…. the shower didn’t turn on, I know! It’s the woman who was kissing me last night. Perfectly logical conslusion. +3 suckiness points for Ben being an idiot.
  • Ben also has weird things he says to Gemma. He literally calls her a walking disaster. He compliments her by saying she is “looking girly”, this despite the fact that he earlier thought how great it was she wasn’t hung up on make up and didn’t care about looking perfect all the time. (Spoiler Ben, she really is hung up on make up constantly and you could tell if you just read her inner dialogue like the rest of us did). Then he proposes to her in an Italian jail cell. Smooth move bro. +7 suckiness points for fake romantic moments.
  • At one point Ben and Gemma are… doing that… and while Ben is looking at her and says how much he wants her, Gemma looks behind her and then asks David, “Me?”. Uhhhh… you got a medical degree you say? But did you really? +3 suckiness points for making Gemma seem dumb, incompetent and way too self conscious with one word.
  • There’s this little side story where they chase around that shady lawyer guy but never catch him. It’s just an excuse for Ben and Gemma to get separated, go to somewhere else in Italy, and then hook up again. I had no problem with this. There are much worse reasons to run all over Italy and it gave the author more room to have nice descriptions of the scenery. -4 suckiness points.
  • Gemma is constantly thinking about how much she needs and loves her job. How it defines her. But in the course of a summer, she is able to just toss it overboard because she met a super rich guy and now her mother owns this villa. It didn’t seem like she was gonna keep doctoring either. Maybe that’s okay considering her track record of not great statements in this book. But still, if she felt it was so important, why give it up so fast? +9 suckiness points for sending the message that you should find your passion and then abandon it for a handsome, wealthy man.
  • Also, I am not saying New York City is better than Italy in any way, they are both good in their own way. But why do these books constantly insist that the best way to live your life is outside of a big, bustling city? What’s wrong with New York? Gemma leaves it without a thought and doesn’t seem to ask her daughter if that’s even okay with her. +2 suckiness points for small country bias.
  • Ben is constantly told by Gemma that she can’t love him. She explains how she will always love Chase which he understands. But he still is on her to say that she loves him, over and over. He proposes and her first reaction is to say no. So he makes her propose to him. Come on man, learn to take no for an answer. I mean, I know the book wouldn’t happen if she didn’t “truly love Ben” on the inside but when a woman says no, take it for exactly what it sounds like. I get it if you want to try again later after some serious discussion but in the moment it shouldn’t be, oh she can’t have meant to say no to me. +15 suckiness points for having to point out again what should be obvious to any decent man.
  • I’m going to give away Gemma’s big, deep dark secret about Chase. She had been in love with him and things were going well. But one night, after her shift ends, she asks David to come pick her up for coffee. He gets in a car accident and Gemma ends up treating him. It’s clear almost instantly that his injuries were too grave for even the best of doctors to save him. I thought her secret was going to be that she was overtired and made a mistake. Or that she blamed herself for not learning some new technique to save him. Nope. She blames herself because she invited him to coffee. Seriously. That’s her big secret. She invited a guy she loved for coffee once and he ended up in a fatal accident. For this she is torn up with guilt. She also dives in to her job because of it. I get the second part, and seriously, I know that grief does strange things to the mind but why would she think this was such a dark secret that she couldn’t ever love someone else because of it? +7 suckiness points for fake secrets.
  • The little romance with Livie and the Italian boy doesn’t go anywhere and she moves on like a perfectly healthy 14 year old girl should. -8 for not making it weird.
  • The book ends with telling us that they get married and live in the villa but whether they stay there or make it a hotel or whatever “is another story”. Good God, there’s going to be a sequel? Please, please, I am begging you, just.. just… don’t okay? +7 suckiness points for sequelitis (undiagnosed by Gemma obviously).

Suckiness meter deactivate!

Well, there you have it, the patent-pending, scientifically tested, completely reliable, totally untested and unscientific suckiness meter worked like a charm! So what was the total?

Sucks = 97. Points taken away for non-suckiness = 20. Grand total of sucks = 77.

If you ever need to tell anyone how this book is, just let them know it sucks 77.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review more than I did reading this book. Next week I am going to be diving into paranormal romance with Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong. A whole store of magic?! For a dime?! Count me in!. Uh, hey can I borrow a dime?

Patent pendingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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