Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Temptation Tuesday...Italian Heroes

Ever since I saw The Godfather I wanted to marry an Italian.

I loved the romance, the clothes, the accents, the danger, the strong sense of family. The language, the music, the history, the scene at the very end of the movie where Kay is watching Michael as his henchmen kiss his hands, and then one of them slowly, slowly closes the door. Wow! I mean have you ever seen anything more dramatic? Well, for a born and bred drama queen that was it for me.

A dozen years later I married my very own Italian Australian. Wishes do come true! Then two years ago my husband and I took a two week trip to Italy. I went with great plans to write a book set there. Because:

a) Italian heroes are ever popular – no argument from me.

b) it would make the trip a write off – boy do I love this job!

c) it would give me a perfect excuse to ogle handsome strangers while still in my husband’s company! (Seriously, the partners of romance writers really should be given awards, back rubs and condolences for what they have to put up with on that front;))

My heroine, Gracie Lane, was already clear in my mind, as this was the third book in a trilogy about three girls living in a beach side suburb of my home town Melbourne. And I knew she was going to Rome to find her long lost father, and that she had my very same fixation on The Godfather, though hers was for very different reasons. I, on the other hand, was going to Rome to find her hero.

Luca Siracusa was an enigma to me. I had a fuzzy image in my head. Okay, so the fuzzy image looked a fair bit like the heavenly Raoul Bova from Under the Tuscan Sun. (And to keep Anne McAllister and many more happy here are some lovely pictures of him...not in a towel exactly but near enough!) But that was all I had. So as we traversed the length and breadth of that beeeeautiful country, I was on the look out for real, flesh and blood, Italian hunks to fill out my two-dimensional hero.

Would I find him chatting up girls on the Spanish Steps in Rome? Would I find him posing for a photograph pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Or would I find him sitting back in a café on Capri drinking an espresso with the sun on his face?

I thought I’d found him in Verona, a city full of beautiful people, in which the locals promenade the twining cobbled streets in fur coats, and designer clothes and elegant suits just because they can. The crowd parted to reveal a little girl in a navy velvet dress with white lace cuffs, white stocking, patent shoes and a blue bow in her ringlets. And on the other end of her hand was a man. Tall, dark, and handsome, even from the back ;). He wore a coat that floated behind him like a cape as he carefully led his daughter through the busy street. I kept a close eye on him, taking heed of his movement, his walk, the tilt of his head before I lost him in the crowd.

I used all of that in my book in the end. But it still wasn’t enough. I knew what he looked like, I knew how he walked, I knew how moving it would be to see such a gorgeous man taking such care of a delightful little girl. But I didn’t know him.

As I sat on the steps of the magnificent Trevi Fountain when we returned to Rome for the last days of our trip, alone, with my notebook and pen in hand, while my husband went off in search of cappuccinos, there were people everywhere; tourists throwing coins, local men selling bottle openers emblazoned with the Pope’s face, pairs of nuns sifting through the bottle openers, gypsies “giving away” one Euro roses.

I closed my eyes and let the sounds and scents and feel of Italy wash over me. And when I opened them there he was. Tall, dark, handsome, Italian...ish and holding out a cappuccino he’d gone searching for, on his own, for me, with little more local language in his vocabulary than “ciao” and “mamma mia”.

Of all my heroes Luca has the most of my husband in him; his kindness, selflessness, his innate style, and natural smarts, and of course his irresistible gorgeousness ;).

But I have no complaints about travelling the world over to find what I had under my very nose. I mean come on, I got to see the statue of David up close and personal! But that’s a whole other book...

Ally's latest Silhouette Romance, A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER is her first book set outside of Australia. It was the winner of the Cataromance Best Tender Romance for the first half of 2005. Think Rome, Tuscany and a gorgeous Italian hero that Romantic Times says "could tempt almost any woman".

For excerpts and the behind the scenes inspiration for this book, check out her website!

This post was inspired by a piece Ally wrote for Nalini Singh's Xmas blog party...


  1. Ally,
    We need a Raoul-in-a-towel pic, please. Under the Tuscan Sun got interesting when he showed up. Too bad they decided it wasn't a romance. Thanks for a great post!

  2. Great post, Ally. You transported me to Italy!

  3. Anne, I've added more pics for your viewing pleasure! And mine ;).

    Nicolette, thanks for the lovely comment. Everytime I tlak about it I want to go!


  4. Know who he reminds me of? Lindsey Buckingham (as he was about 10 years ago - when he was completely gorgeous - and not when he had the wild hair of the 70s. Which you are too young to remember anyway *g*). LB's guitar-playing inspired a certain scene in my last book...

  5. Ally,

    Loved this post. Your description of the man with his little girl as so vivid. But most of all I'm glad you found your special hero so close to home!


  6. I loved this post. I travelled for the first time ever in my life to Italy last October. What an experience. Loved every minute of it. Have to return. It was a 2 week business trip so rushed but enjoyed it all.

  7. Hi Ally,
    I have some very fond memories of Italy, especially Rome. And I married my own Italian hero too :) Thanks for the images.