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Smitten with Ravioli: Smitten with Travel Romantic Comedy Series, #1

Smitten with Ravioli: Smitten with Travel Romantic Comedy Series, #1

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Smitten with Ravioli: Smitten with Travel Romantic Comedy Series, #1

215 pages
3 hours
May 22, 2020


I'm not sure what I'm more scared of—cats that drool or falling for that annoying history professor in my Italian cooking course.


Sure, Preston Whitaker has amazing blue eyes, but he's an arrogant know-it-all, just like my ex. I can't stand the man. And now I'm stuck with him for the next four weeks in Italy.


If you gave me a choice between snuggling with a drooling cat or with Preston, I'd choose the cat in a heartbeat.


Or would I?


Did I mention how cute Preston is?


Maybe I should have a holiday romance with him. That would be okay, right? It could be a fun diversion. Then, once I leave Italy, I'll never have to see that pretentious jerk again.


Just one teeny-tiny problem—I think I might be falling for him big time. Will I be able to say goodbye to him when the cooking course is over?


Smitten with Ravioli is a standalone romantic comedy with a happily ever after ending that you'll swoon over. If you like sweet romance with plenty of goofy humor, Italian food, and the occasional drooling cat, you'll love Ginny & Preston's story!


Check out the other books in the Smitten with Travel romcom series. Each book features a different heroine traveling the world in search of love.


Book #1 – Smitten with Ravioli (Ginny's story set in Italy)

Book #2 – Smitten with Croissants (Mia's story set in France)

Book #3 – Smitten with Strudel (Isabelle's story set in Germany)

May 22, 2020

About the author

Ellen Jacobson is a writer, cat lover & obsessed with chocolate. She writes cozy mysteries and romantic comedies including the Mollie McGhie Mysteries and the Smitten with Travel Rom-Coms.You can find out more on her website (ellenjacobsonauthor.com), sign up for her newsletter (https://www.subscribepage.com/m4g9m4), and contact her via email at ellenjacobsonauthor@gmail.com

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Smitten with Ravioli - Ellen Jacobson

Ellen Jacobson

Smitten with Ravioli

First published by Ellen Jacobson 2020

Copyright © 2020 by Ellen Jacobson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise without written permission from the publisher. It is illegal to copy this book, post it to a website, or distribute it by any other means without permission.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.


First edition

ISBN: 978-1-951495-07-7

Editing by Beth Balmanno, By the Book

This book was professionally typeset on Reedsy

Find out more at reedsy.com


1. Parkaphobia

2. Bacon Perfume

3. The Worst Smell Ever

4. Terms and Conditions Apply

5. Salmonella

6. Tweed Jackets

7. Blue vs. Green Milk

8. Smitten with Ravioli

9. Calorie Bombs

10. Bad Dad Jokes

11. Happy Birthday!

12. The Patron Saint of Shoes

13. Cat Burglars

14. Hairballs

15. Drooling Cats vs. Teddy Bears

16. Ladies Seldom Eat Cheese

17. Epilogue – Preston

Author’s Note

About the Author

Also by Ellen Jacobson

A Sneak Peek of Smitten with Croissants



Is it weird to be jealous of other people’s phobias?

One of my friends has omphalophobia—belly buttons freak her out. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an innie or an outie; she hyperventilates at the mere sight of one. Once, when I managed to drag her to the pool, she reached into her tote bag, pulled out a roll of duct tape, and slapped a large piece on my navel. Ripping that sucker off hurt worse than getting waxed. Note to self—be careful who you wear bikinis around.

My aunt has pogonophobia. Men with beards cause her to break out in a cold sweat. That’s probably one of the reasons why she became a nun. Not a lot of guys hanging around the convent. Although, the last time I saw her, she was sprouting a few of those chin hairs that older ladies sometimes get. I’m not sure who the saint of unwanted facial hair is, but I’d bet my bottom dollar that my aunt is offering up a lot of prayers to him.

Then there’s my neighbor. She has hylophobia. Wood makes her extremely uncomfortable. And we’re not just talking about the large trees you see when you go for a hike in the forest. No, she’s been known to faint at the mere sight of a toothpick. Show her some wooden chopsticks and she develops an unpleasant rash all over her body. Needless to say, whenever she comes over for dinner, we order pizza, not Chinese.

My phobia is utterly dull in comparison. I have aerophobia. Yep, I’m scared of airplanes. Boring, right? Whenever I tell people that I’m afraid to fly, they yawn and change the subject. But, I bet you if I told them I have anatidaephobia (the fear that ducks are watching me) or feretrophobia (the fear of coffins and being buried alive), they’d perk right up. Because those are interesting phobias. Phobias that are hard to spell. Phobias that make for scintillating cocktail party conversations. Phobias that get featured on daytime television.

Although, the more I think about this, maybe my phobia isn’t all that bad in the scheme of things. It doesn’t impact my daily life. I can go to the beach, look indifferently at the belly buttons on display, admire the surfer dudes sporting facial hair, all while eating ice cream with one of those little wooden spoons.

The only thing I have to worry about is avoiding flying. Piece of cake—there are cars, buses, trains, and even unicycles that can get you around.

Of course, a car, bus, train, or unicycle won’t really cut it if you’re trying to get from the States to Europe. For that you need a boat. A big boat. A boat so big it comes with fine dining, shopping, and Broadway shows. Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about a cruise ship. Just like the one I was about to embark on for my transatlantic crossing from Miami to Rome.

* * *

Did you remember your passport, Ginny? my mom asks as she makes a right turn into the parking lot at the cruise ship terminal.

Of course I remembered, I say as I unfasten my seatbelt.

Hey, buckle back up, Ginny, she says, gripping the steering wheel tightly. I haven’t stopped the car yet.

Mom, relax. We’re almost there.

She turns her head sharply and gives me her patented listen-here-missy look. My car, my rules, young lady. Now fasten that seatbelt until I’ve found a spot and turned off the engine.

I’m pretty sure my mom has some sort of parking phobia. She can pass people on the highway going ninety miles an hour without batting an eye, but she’s a nervous wreck when it comes to positioning her car between two other vehicles. There have been times when she’s made me get out of the car with a ruler to take measurements. I’ve never been able to find an official name for her particular brand of irrational fear, so I call it parkophobia. Not to be confused with parkaphobia—a fear of puffy jackets.

While we circle the lot for the fifth time in search of the perfect spot, I try to lighten the mood by changing the subject. You know that I’m not a ‘young lady’ anymore.

Please, she says between clenched teeth. You’re twenty-five. That’s young. And I raised you to be a lady, so that makes you a young lady.

Having learned over the years not to question her particular brand of logic, I simply nod in response.

She leans forward and points at the far end of the lot. Does it look like they’re leaving? That spot would be perfect. It’s right next to a loading zone so no one can park next to me.

I check the time on my phone. We’re running late. Probably better not to mention that a truck might park in the loading zone. The thought of a large vehicle pulling in next to hers would freak her out and send her in search of another spot, which could take ages. There’s no way I’m going to miss boarding this ship. It’s my ticket out of here and, hopefully, the start of my brand new life. A new life guaranteed to make me forget all about what’s-his-name.

Oh, wow, I can’t believe I said what’s-his-name. That is huge progress. Just one look at the cruise ship and I can’t even remember the jerk’s name. I rub my hands together and smile. This selective amnesia feels awesome.

My mom finally parks the car, turns off the engine, and we walk toward the terminal entrance.

Has Joel apologized yet? my mom asks, totally spoiling my good mood.

I lift my suitcase over the curb and set it down. Who? I ask innocently.


I don’t know who you’re talking about, I say, furrowing my brow.

Sweetheart, you can’t pretend the last two years of your life didn’t happen. She squeezes my hand. What he did to you was horrible, but you have to make peace with it so that you can move on with your life.

I snatch my hand away. Whose side are you on?

I’m on your side, of course, she says as she hugs me. But did you ever think that maybe what happened is for the best? I never was convinced that getting your PhD and becoming a professor was the right path for you. I try to pull away, but she squeezes me tighter. And it’s not because you’re not smart enough or talented enough.

My eyes well up with tears as she releases me. Of course it is. Why else did they side with him and not me?

I bite my lip as I remember that fateful day when my thesis advisor called me into his office to tell me that I had been charged with plagiarism. The jerk—who I had wasted two years of my life dating—stole my research paper, presented it as his, then had the nerve to accuse me of being the cheater. The worst part of it was that everyone believed him, not me. Obviously no one thought I was smart enough or talented enough to have written it on my own.

My thesis advisor gave me a choice—drop out of graduate school or face the humiliation of going through a formal hearing. I chose the former. After moving back to my mom’s house in Florida, I spent the next couple of months eating ice cream and potato chips on her couch while watching Spanish-language soap operas. Those shows can really suck you in, even if you don’t understand a word they’re saying.

One day, as I was flicking through the channels, I stumbled across an Italian cooking show and that’s when it hit me. I knew how to get my life back on track—go to Italy, learn how to make pasta, then come back home and open a restaurant.

My mom wasn’t quite sure that it was a well thought through plan, but she agreed that a change of scenery would do me good, even offering to help me pay for the trip.

I give my mom another hug, then say, Dad would be so disappointed if he could see me now. A grad school dropout who can’t even get a job teaching high school history. He always wanted me to go into academia and become a professor like him.

Young lady, that is simply not true. If your father were alive, he’d tell you the same thing. She cups my face in her hands. Virginia Morgan Maarschalkerweerd, you listen to me, you hear? All he ever wanted was for you to be happy. He didn’t care what kind of career path you took. You put that pressure on yourself, not him.

I straighten my shoulders at the sound of my full name. She only wheels that out when she means business.

See those girls over there? My mom indicates two women about my age. The taller one pushes her long, dark-brown hair behind her ears and smiles as her petite, blonde friend points at a large, colorful sign festooned with balloons that says, "Welcome Aboard the Ocean Queen!"

See how happy they look?

I nod.

I bet that’s because they’re following their own paths, not doing what they think everyone else expects of them.

I raise my eyebrows. That’s kind of a stretch, mom. Who knows what their back stories are?

She shakes her head. Fine, but you get what I’m trying to say. Consider what happened with Joel and grad school to be a blessing in disguise. Take this time on the crossing over to Europe and then in Italy to figure out what will truly make you happy.

After giving me one last squeeze, we say goodbye and I set off on my new adventure. An adventure full of lots of pasta and free of backstabbing, nerdy historians.

* * *

Later that night, after settling into my cabin, I get ready for dinner. It will take over a week to get to our first port of call, Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, which lie off the coast of West Africa. We’ll be there for less than twenty-four hours before departing for Rome, where I’ll disembark and begin my new adventure.

Because we have so much time at sea and people are likely to get stir-crazy, the crew has organized all sorts of activities, including themed events to keep everyone occupied. Tonight is a 1950s-style barbecue on the lido deck.

I came prepared for the occasion, having packed a tea-length skirt complete with a petticoat to give it fullness. I pair it with an ecru scoop-necked cashmere sweater, white gloves, and a strand of pearls. After putting a wide-brimmed hat atop my auburn curls, I check out my appearance in the mirror. Sure, the fifties were a fashionable era, but if they’d had any idea that yoga pants awaited them in the future they would have worked harder at building a time travel machine, turned the dial to take them forward in time to the twenty-first century, and scooped up a bunch of the stretchy garments on sale at Walmart. If you’re going to chow down at a barbecue, clothes made of Lycra are the way to go.

My stomach grumbles, telling me it’s time to stop gazing at my reflection. I grab my phone, then frown. I’m going to a 1950s event. They didn’t have cell phones back then, so if I want to be true to the time I should leave it behind. Besides, that will keep me from re-reading the texts I sent to what’s-his-name.

The texts demanding an explanation.

The texts demanding an apology.

The unanswered texts.

The texts that bring tears to my eyes one minute then leave me clenching my fists in anger the next.

Yes, I know, I should delete them. But I can never bring myself to do it.

I take a deep breath, smooth down my skirt, and remind myself that what’s-his-name is firmly in the past. Then I chuck my phone into my dresser drawer and head to the barbecue.

Walking out onto the deck, I could swear I’ve been transported back in time. The tables are covered in red-and-white gingham tablecloths, people are playing croquet and horseshoes, kids are attempting to hula hoop, and there are a lot of poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and letterman sweaters on display.

As I stand in line at the buffet, I spot the two women my mom pointed out to me earlier. They’re both dressed similarly to me—full skirts, gloves, pearls, and hats.

The brunette smiles at me. Looks like we shop at the same place. She holds out her hand. I’m Isabelle.

Ginny, I say, shaking her hand.

And this is my friend, Mia, she says, pointing at the blonde.

Nice to meet you, Mia says as she grabs a plate from the stack at the end of the buffet table. Before she can pass it to Isabelle, it slips out of her hand. One of the waiters rushes over, says something in French to us, then cleans up the broken pieces from the floor. Was it my imagination or did he wink at Mia?

It’s these stupid gloves. They’re slippery, Mia says, yanking them off. How did anyone manage to get anything done back in the fifties wearing these things?

They probably are a safety hazard, I say, taking mine off as well. Now what do I do with them? I don’t have any pockets, and I didn’t bring a purse.

Mia grins, then sticks her gloves down the front of her sweater. That’s what bras are for, she says. They’re great for holding your phone and money, along with gloves when you don’t have any other way to carry them.

I giggle at the sight of the fingertips of Mia’s gloves peeking out from her neckline. It looks like Thing from The Addams Family has taken up residence. Then I tuck my own down my sweater. Who cares how stupid I look? It’s not like I’m trying to attract anyone. The last thing I need is another backstabber in my life.

Isabelle shrugs, then follows suit and joins the bra-stuffing brigade.

As we load up our plates with hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, coleslaw, and deviled eggs, Isabelle asks me if I’m traveling on my own. When I tell her I am, she insists that I join them at their table.

Oh, yes, join us, Mia says. But only on one condition. No talking about guys.

Mia just had a bad break-up, Isabella says.

Bad? Mia scowls. "Bad is what you say when you’re describing the taste of beetroots. My mother would wash my mouth out with soap if I used a word that really

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