Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review: Rome In Love by Anita Hughes

Rome In Love by Anita Hughes book cover

Title: Rome In Love
Author: Anita Hughes
Series: Standalone
Format: eARC, kindly provided by
St Martin's Griffin (Thank you!!)
My rating: 1 / 5

Add to Goodreads

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 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.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Oh, boy. Rome in Love and I didn’t get along very well. Essentially, the book is a retelling of the movie Roman Holiday. I love retellings in general and fairy-tale retellings in particular, and I thought this would be a really nice change of pace and a chance to see how a contemporary version would work for me. And it’s set in Italy! Who doesn’t love Italy?! Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped.

I really wish I could sugar coat this, but there isn’t a nice way to say it: I absolutely hated the writing style. The only way I can describe it is formulistic and emotionless. I need to feel some sort of connection to the story, and I felt nothing throughout the entire book. I’m a foodie and the descriptions of food in the first chapter or so was awesome! But… then I began noticing a repetitive trend: every single scene and everything the characters do is described in the same way. She saw blah, blah, blah. She smelled blah, blah, blah. She ate blah, blah, blah. She studied ... She felt ... She heard ... She climbed ... She walked ... Just remove the blah, blah, blah, and ellipses and insert any descriptive words you like and it’s annoyingly repetitive. And this isn’t just one or two sentences dispersed throughout the chapter, it is actually whole blocks of text used like this to describe what’s going on. I think the intention is to create an immersive atmosphere, but for me, it didn’t work. It was so unappealing and it detracted from the story and the characters completely.

The characters are usually my main focus when I read, and if I love the characters I can forgive a whole load of things I dislike. Sadly, the characters didn’t work for me either. This goes back to the writing style again, but there was far too much attention put on unnecessary details. I don’t care about bicycles going by, or crossing guards, or what clothes people are wearing or what they smell like, or what every random character is eating, just please, please, please, make me FEEL something toward the main characters! With the way the book is written, there is so much focus on the outside world that the characters don’t get the chance to progress and develop from mere names on a page.

Amelia’s character felt a little bit hypocritical at times. We’re constantly told how much she wants to be a successful actress, yet her actions in the book suggest she’s not very committed at all. We don’t get to see much of the actual filming of the movie – which sucks – just a random sentence or paragraph here or there. She’s in Rome for two months and they’re shooting on location, yet she gets to spend a lot of time exploring the city and doing her own thing. This didn’t really gel with what I would imagine the environment of a Warner Brothers blockbuster movie being filming on location would be like. Especially since they invested a hundred million dollars into the movie! I don’t know… it just didn’t feel right to me.

I was hoping to love this book, but alas, Rome in Love was not for me. While the concept is fabulous, the writing style put me off very early on and it definitely influenced my feelings for the entire book. A lot of people really enjoyed this book, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, you can’t love ‘em all.

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