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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Barbara Oliverio’s Passports and Plum Blossoms is delightfully funny. Meet Annalise Fontana, known by her father as the “gypsy.” Surrounded by family and friends, Annalise sits as an outsider at a wedding. Wallowing in self-pity, she pronounces deep within her soul, the bride took her boyfriend, now she took her dream job; this woman, yes, this bride was living the life Annalise deserved. Not a very pretty picture. To remedy her depression, Annalise agrees to be her Aunt Lil’s traveling companion. Maybe all she needed was a change of scenery mixed in with a bit of adventure. Soon Aunt Lil and Annalise embark on a once in a lifetime journey to China. However, before they even leave Denver airport the adventure begins. Annalise literally runs into an out-of-this-world, handsome man in the gift shop. His smell is alluring, his eyes are mesmerizing, and his smile is captivating. This will not be the last time she encounters this gorgeous mystery man. With each new destination, sightseeing location and cultural site, he seems to be among the crowd. Is it fate, love or sheer accidental attraction? Regardless, “life was going to get interesting.”
Passports and Plum Blossoms is a sweet, romantic tale. Barbara Oliverio peppers her narrative with humor, honor, and family values. The tone is light-hearted and, as a reader, you soon sense you are a part of the heroine’s adventure. I really did appreciate the camaraderie between the generations; the openness and the lack of condescension between Aunt Lil and Annalise was refreshing. The respect and equality in the developing companionship is rare. Oliverio allows the younger character to impart to the older, and for the older character to inspire the younger; this aspect is not often seen in modern literature. Both characters are stretched, causing growth as the story unfolds, allowing the reader to expect the unexpected. This narrative portrays young love and mature love. It reveals the notion that romantic love has no timetable or preset location. It reminds us that love comes regardless of age and in ways we can never imagine. You are never too old to fall in love. Passports and Plum Blossoms is a feel-good story with an air of romantic adventure. It does not disappoint.