Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Rome in Love

Rome in Love
By Anita Hughes
Published: August 4, 2015

When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, she feels as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major motion picture, and gets to live in beautiful, Italian city of Rome for the next two months.
Once there, she befriends a young woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the amazing riches that Rome has to offer. But when Amelia's boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting career, her perfect world begins to crumble.
While moping in her hotel suite, Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that start to put her own life into perspective. Then, she meets Philip, a handsome journalist who is under the impression that she is a hotel maid, and it appears as if things are finally looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell Philip her true identity. Not to mention that Philip has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career and love that she's always wanted, or will she be forced to choose again?
With her sensory descriptions of the beautiful sites, decadent food, and high fashion of Rome, Hughes draws readers into this fast-paced and superbly written novel. Rome in Love will capture the hearts of readers everywhere.

My review:

I was sold on this book because of the setting. Rome is on my bucket list of places to see. I also watched Roman Holiday once years ago and I liked it so I was curious to see what a modern version would be like.

Amelia is an up and coming actress and playing Princess Ann in Roman Holiday is the chance of a lifetime. Her boyfriend doesn't feel the same way about her acting career. He is eager for her to settle down with him and maybe just act a couple of times a year but Amelia doesn't want to leave Hollywood. This kind of echoes Audrey Hepburn's own story as she was engaged at the time she was making Roman Holiday and her fiance wasn't completely supportive (as revealed in the letters Amelia finds). 

After a grueling event where she is grilled by the press, a slightly drunk Amelia sneaks out of her hotel wearing a maid's uniform. It is then that she first runs into Philip, a journalist desperate for a story that will help his career so he can pay back his father. Of course Philip thinks she is a maid but he soon stumbles on the truth but pretends to go along with Amelia's charade as they keep meeting. He hopes to get an exclusive story (his editor's plan is much more dastardly than the one portrayed in the film) and Amelia keeps her secret not yet ready to share the truth.

The other important character is Sophie, a real life princess hiding out in Rome. Amelia and Sophie become fast friends when Amelia helps her out of a sticky situation. In return Sophie helps Amelia to prepare for her part as Princess Ann and the two explore the city and discuss relationship woes. Sophie is expected to marry a prince but she falls in love with a doctor she meets in Rome. While Amelia represents a modern Audrey Hepburn, Sophie is a modern version of Princess Ann, the heroine of Roman Holiday.

While I liked Amelia and Sophie, I didn't really buy into the love story between Amelia and Phillip. I also think he comes across as less likable than Joe Bradley, his film counterpart played by Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. In the film Joe is charming and even though he wants to get a story it is also really obvious that he cares about the princess. Unfortunately it doesn't translate as well to the modern character. Phillip is motivated by his need to pay back his dad and to get his career back on track but I didn't feel much sympathy for him. It doesn't help matters that his editor expects him to get Amelia to fall in love with him and accept his proposal without revealing the truth of her identity to create the ultimate scoop.

I loved the setting of the novel though at times the description of the tourist sites took on the feel of reading a guide book and the descriptions of the food became too much. Who really tells people everything they want to order at a restaurant when they make plans to go there? I normally love food descriptions but this didn't feel natural in the story and it happened far too many times. Aside from those little issues and the problems with the Amelia-Phillip relationship, I did enjoy Rome in Love, mostly because of the insight it gave us into Audrey Hepburn's life and the making of the film. The letters that Amelia found were very interesting and really felt like things Audrey would have said. I would have loved it if the author had chosen to write a historical novel about Audrey and the making of the film instead of a modern retelling. 

Overall I liked the book in spite of its flaws and I think fans of Roman Holiday would enjoy the parts about Audrey Hepburn as well. It made me decide to watch Roman Holiday again. I appreciated the movie even more based on what I learned while reading the book!

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Sounds like a nice summer read! Too bad the romance didn't really click. That's always frustrating! Great review. :)

  2. Awesome review! I was curious about your thoughts on this one. I have it for review, but for some reason have been putting it off. I love the setting of Rome as well as Audrey Hepburn, so hopefully i can check it out in the next few weeks. I'm sorry the author's descriptions of Rome as well as the food was too much at times....that is how I felt about her other novel, French Coast. She included SO many detailed descriptions of the fashion that if you aren't a fashionista, you'd be bored.


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