I wouldn't say this book is "softer" than other Kitty Thomas' titles. Surely it is different because there's more romance in it, but it's still all very dark and the psychological aspect that plays a huge role in every Thomas' work is there, it's strong and enthrals the reader as usual.
Now, I am Italian and I think the author did her homework well, especially in regards of holiday traditions. The family you see here is the Mafia stereotype you're familiar with from what you can see on TV or at the cinema, so a bit extravagant and over the top. Still, there are certain things you would definitely expect to see in many everyday families during Christmas. I liked that and it kinda made me smile more than once.
I admit I had some concern over the constant back and forth of the two main characters, but then they're very complex and of course I could see their issues and understand their thinking and rethinking over decisions that would totally change everything in other people's lives and, most of all, in themselves. What I particularly liked without any doubt was the big jump I did towards the end! Something very (whoa!) unexpected happened... I felt just a bit of rush after that, but I ended loving the very last line. So overall, another great job, Kitty Thomas!