My favorite part of this book were the characters! I loved the Neeleys and thought both Bubba and DJ were dreamy. That may be because I have a soft spot for southern men but I also think it is a nod to the author's character development. I could imagine meeting the Neeleys in my town and them fitting in perfectly while the Rossis made me think of any traditional, big, Italian family I know. I also think the author did a good job of keeping these families loyal to their traditions and upbringings but open to other people's way of life as well. I'm not sure if it is realistic but it made for a nice setting.
I loved the two extremely different cultures that were described in this book. You wouldn't think that "off the boat" Italians and deep rooted Southerners would come together but somehow, in this novel, they manage to. Simpatico! I found the initial clash of cultures to be very funny and create a lot of comedic scenes. One of my favorites was when Rosa met Bubba for the first time which resulted in an overbearing Italian trying to communicate with a overly polite Southerner. It was awkward to say the least but very well done and believable. The author also did a good job of identifying food as the main staple of each culture which gave them a place to connect.
That being said, I had a few issues with this book. Namely, Bella. Initially, I connected with her and understood her dedication to her culture, her religion, and her family and respected her for that. But as the novel progressed, she started to irk me. First of all, how is it possible that she was raised in Texas (11-30 or so, that qualifies as raised) and has not adopted a single Texan tradition. It's called assimilation and it's unavoidable. Just look at her parents' generation! They were able to find their place in America after coming from Italy and still maintain their traditions. With Bella, it was as if she wasn't interested in learning a new culture and scoffed at it for 20 years until she met her first dreamy cowboy (and how is that possible, Texas is full of dreamy cowboys?!?) She also was very insecure which can be endearing to a point but she just became obnoxious.
One other character that I didn't connect with was Sophia. She just popped in and out of the story at weird times and don't even get me started on her joke of a story line (I won't spoil it) that she just "dropped" at the end of the story. That was a little bit of a cop out and would probably have been better not being mentioned at all.
Overall, I really enjoyed this first half of the book but the end became a little redundant and predictable which made it hard for me to enjoy. I LOVED sister Twila's beauty secrets at the end though. Cute idea!