Dolci Di Love by Sarah-Kate Lynch
HarperCollins, $39.99

Ancient Italian women dressed in black provided New Zealand writer Sarah-Kate Lynch with the inspiration for her seventh novel. On a research trip to Tuscany she noticed them everywhere she went and found herself wondering, what if all these old women were in cahoots?

And so began Dolci Di Love, a story about a secret league of Italian widows dedicated to healing broken hearts and smoothing the path of true love. When American businesswoman Lily Turner arrives in their picturesque hilltop town her heart is well and truly broken. She's discovered her husband has a secret family in Italy and is there to track him down. Haunted by her childlessness and devastated by failed bids at IVF and adoption, Lily is an emotional wreck. This doesn't escape the notice of the secret network of widows, who are determined to find her a happy ending.

Before too long - and with many comic moments - they have manipulated her into helping them bake the town's famous biscotti and are throwing her into the path of a handsome widower. Fertility battles and farce (at one point a tiramisu talks!) may not seem a natural match but has a deft hand when it comes to blending serious issues and comedy.

Fans of her best-sellers will not be disappointed by Dolci Di Love. I think it will tick all their boxes - it's entertaining, emotionally truthful, has a beautiful setting, delicious biscotti and a satisfying ending.

At this point I should admit that I've known Sarah-Kate Lynch for a couple of decades - in fact, she smoothed my own path to true love! It can be tricky reading a friend's novel because you worry about hearing their voice in your head and not being able to lose yourself fully in the story. That never happened with Dolci Di Love.

From the first page, where Lily finds a laminated photograph of her husband with his mistress and two children under the insole of his left golf shoe, I'd forgotten about Sarah-Kate entirely and was hooked into her bittersweet tale.