To Boldly Go by Em Stevens is a charming romance set against the beautiful Mediterranean coastline of Italy. When two women find themselves thrust together by chance, it tests the theory that opposites attract.

Holly is a free spirit. She is making her way through Europe with a backpack and a refreshing sense of adventure. She sees each day as an opportunity to discover something magical and cleanse herself of the pain she desperately wants to put behind her. She’s in Europe to ease her soul and figure out what’s next in her life.

Taryn is a planner. She leaves nothing to chance. She has spent six years saving for the perfect trip to Italy with her best friend, Daphne. Her itinerary is scheduled down to the minute, and her expectations are high.  She also plans on using the trip as the ideal opportunity to change her relationship with Daphne from platonic to romantic.

When Daphne abandons Taryn three days into her dream vacation, Taryn is ready to call it a day and return to the states. After a chance meeting with Holly outside the Venice train station, Holly is determined to help Taryn salvage her trip. Taryn decides to throw caution to the wind and continue her vacation with this optimistic younger woman.

Can these seemingly polar opposites make it through a week together in a foreign country let alone find love in the process?

The Characters

I really appreciated the complexity of Holly’s character. From the onset I got to know her as a carefree young woman who could roll with the punches. But, as the story progressed I got to see a more vulnerable side to her. At times she is brash, outgoing, and lighthearted and then suddenly a more melancholy side of her is revealed. Sometimes she needs solitude to reflect on why she has set off on this trip.

I really liked Taryn’s journey in this book. Okay, so she has the quintessential Type A personality. Pardon my frankness, but without Type A’s like this reviewer, who would make sure deadlines were met and work was done efficiently? (Okay, so some of us obsess about Jan in accounting leaving her dirty coffee mug in the sink, but I digress.) I was keen on how Stevens did not write Taryn as a caricature that needed to be fixed. Instead, Stevens gave Taryn an extra dose of what frustrates her and I got to observe Taryn rise to the occasion. I thought watching her metamorphosis was rather empowering.

The Writing Style

Yes, this is a romance so we all know we are going to get our happily ever after. What made this stand out for me was the insightful character development and the chemistry between Taryn and Holly which grew hotter with each chapter. The author tells the story from each woman’s point of view and that helped me understand their motivations. Stevens provides a rich backstory for each of the women, which I think is essential in a book. I like to see where the main characters have been so I can appreciate the character arcs over the course of the story.

I thought the pacing was spot on. The main characters are only together for a short amount of time but Stevens uses some authentic Italian traditions and celebrations to move the story along. I was completely charmed by Stevens’ descriptions of the sights, sounds, and people of the region, not to mention the scrumptious food. I think I put on five pounds just reading it.


Let’s see, right, it’s Italy! The art, the history, and the language are enchanting. As an added bonus we get to see Taryn and Holly debate the finer qualities and ultimate supremacy of their favorite incarnations of the Star Trek television series.


Nope, I couldn’t come up with one.

The Conclusion

If you are like me and have an inner vagabond dying to explore the world, then this vacation romance might satisfy your needs until the time comes for you to pack your bags.

Excerpt from To Boldly Go by Em Stevens

“Come with me.” It came out in a rush, so fast she mumbled.

“What?” Taryn’s pink cheeks flared red.

“I’m going to Cinque Terre. Come with me.”

Taryn tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t know what that is,” she admitted.

Holly couldn’t believe the woman had planned a trip to Italy and wasn’t going to visit Cinque Terre, but there wasn’t time to ask or tease. “It’s beautiful. It’s small. Come with me, spend some time there. You need one magical Italian experience, okay?”

“You don’t even know me!”

No, she didn’t. Holly knew this was impulsive. But impulsive had brought her most of her best, happiest experiences, with one sorrowful exception.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781977001825
  • Publisher: Now and Wren Publishing

Em Stevens Online

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About the author

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Victoria is a native of Southern California where she lives with her fantastic family. Victoria traded in a career in the television and film industry to become a speech therapist to work with special needs kiddos like her younger daughter. Her passions include film history, Cate Blanchett, neckties, dismantling the patriarchy, and Cate Blanchett. She doesn’t eat mushrooms because they are gross and She prefers dark over milk chocolate. Victoria never leaves the house without her Kindle and she will work for books.