Library Journal Review
DEBUT In 1956, with Cold War hysteria in the air, newlyweds Michael and -Scottie Messina arrive in Siena, Italy. Michael has been recruited by the CIA to stop the Communists from winning the mayor's race. Scottie just wants to be a good wife, without knowing exactly what that means. As a result of Michael's suspect sexuality (it was illegal at the time for gay individuals to work for the U.S. government) and a pregnant Scottie's attraction to other men, their carefree life turns first confusing and then dangerous. As Michael bumbles into dirty tricks, false-flag operations, and the caching of weapons, all in an attempt to impress both his gay handler and Clare Boothe Luce, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, Scottie is ensnared by flirtatious lovers, the Palio (Siena's famous horse race), and her husband's spying. Will the secrets the two innocents abroad fail to reveal to each other destroy not only their marriage but the lives of others as well? VERDICT In her gracefully written debut, as effervescent as spumante, Lynch dramatizes the allure and power of secrets-in politics and marriage-while depicting with sly humor the collision between American do-gooder naïveté and Italian culture. Italophiles and anyone interested in spying and the expat experience (think Chris Pavone's The Expats) will love the spot-on social commentary.-Ron Terpening, formerly of Univ. of Arizona, Tucson © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Ostensibly a fun and innocuous political romp, Lynch's debut also highlights America's role in foreign governments as well as the constrictive social mores of the 1950s. Scottie and Michael Messina have recently gotten married after a whirlwind romance and are moving to Siena, Italy, for Michael's job as a tractor salesman. Both parties, however, are secretly using the marriage as a cover. Michael is actually a CIA agent working to keep communism at bay, and Scottie is pregnant by another man. Each keeps even more secrets from the other as they become embedded in the Italian culture itself seemingly working hard at maintaining appearances. Lynch was the Milan correspondent for W Magazine and Women's Wear Daily, and her affection for and knowledge of the Italian people and way of living are evident: her food descriptions in particular are droolworthy. Readers will be rooting for Michael and Scottie through the story's many adventures and intrigue, while political and social commentary add an extra layer of depth.--Sexton, Kathy Copyright 2018 Booklist
Kirkus Review
Set in Siena in 1956, this debut novel is a spy thriller, comedy of manners, and valentine to Italy, spiked with forbidden sex and political skulduggery.Eleven years after the end of World War II, young American newlyweds Scottie and Michael Messina arrive in Siena burdened with secrets. Michael is ostensibly there to sell tractors for Ford. In fact, he's a CIA operative whose mission is to make sure the Communist mayor is defeated. He's hiding something even more explosive, but his high-spirited wife, Scottie, doesn't have a clue. She's along as helpmeetbut, unbeknownst to Michael, is carrying a baby that's not his. Complications, as they say, ensue. Robertino, a 14-year-old boy, signs on as Scottie's Italian tutor; he's also Michael's "asset," charged with stealing the local Communist Party membership rolls. When Robertino goes missing, everyone fears the worst. There's a large supporting cast in this cinematic story, including the randy Communist mayor, Ugo; the seductive aristocrat, Carlo; and the smooth American diplomat (and Michael's special friend), Duncan. Clare Boothe Luce, the actual American ambassador to Italy, also figures in the proceedings. Much of this is fun: packed with lies and betrayals, the book delivers plenty of juicy surprises. And the author, who was a correspondent in Italy for W and Women's Wear Daily, takes obvious pleasure in writing about the country's history, customs, and culinary feats. The book falters when it tries for pathos: the death of Robertino's mother and the agony of Carlo's wife over the loss of their son don't mesh well with the rest of the action. The story also bogs down at timesshorter would have been betterand occasionally strains credulity.The ending is unexpected, with the author displaying a sophisticated, nuanced view of love and marriage that feels very modern. Or maybe it's just Italian. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.