Adriana, My Paesana

I open Adriana Trigiani's books with trembling hands--not because I can't wait to read, though that's true--but because her work is so familiar and terrific and I wish I'd written it myself. Her city settings and Italian-American characters resonate so deeply with me that I wish I could just call her up and chat. (Also, her book covers are to die for.)

This month, appropriately enough, I'm reading the first two books of her Valentine trilogy. I started with Very Valentine, which introduces us to Valentine and her hilarious family, all of whom are instantly recognizable to me. There's a crazy family wedding, a sexy Italian chef, and even sexier Italian shoes.

Now I'm on to Brava, Valentine, in which Valentine takes over the family shoe business and takes up with a hunky Italian tanner. (Not the Jersey Shore variety. He works with leather.)

Trigiani hits the sweet spot in women's fiction: her stories are funny, heartfelt, and smart. Beyond that, she markets herself wisely and takes great care of her fans.

So brava, Adriana. You're an inspiration to the rest of us.