Title: When in Rome…Find Yourself
Author: Lena Mae Hill
Publisher: Speak Now
Pub Date: September 6, 2016
Format: Kindle eBook
Genre(s): Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
Rory Hartnett has sworn off love, so boys will not be a distraction on her six-week study abroad trip to Rome. She has her plate full dealing with her anxiety in a foreign country, making new friends to explore the city with, taking classes, and applying for an internship at a travel e-zine. But when she meets the cute artist sharing her eccentric host mother’s lodging, all bets are off.
Fall in love with the first in a brand new series about four girls finding themselves—and maybe love—in the city of fountains. If you loved Anna and the French Kiss or Love & Gelato, you won’t want to miss this sweet New Adult series from new romance author Lena Mae Hill.
I received this eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion of the work.
Oh, Rory. It was very hard not to think of Gilmore Girls while I was reading about you, but I digress. The same can be said for Ned (kind of). Anyone else thinking of Ned Flanders? Hi-diddly-hell-no you’re not the only one. I’m a terrible human for saying this but literally any other name in the world would have been better for Ned’s character. He’s a stoner. With dreads. C’mon now, neighbour.
In any case, the blurb compares this book to Anna and the French Kiss (read my review here) and Love & Gelato. I have not read the latter so I can’t attest to whether that’s a correct comparison. In my opinion, the only similarity between Anna and Rory is that they’ve both gone abroad for school. While reading Anna and the French Kiss gives you butterflies and giggles, When in Rome… makes you feel anxious as heck. Maybe that’s just me. I do suffer from clinical anxiety, so Rory’s constant inner turmoil was very relatable, but also very triggering.
I’ve read some other reviews by people who were annoyed by Rory’s constant worries/insecurities. I didn’t mind it as much. I found this to be very realistic. Anxiety doesn’t just go away because you’re on holiday, or there’s a cute boy who likes you, or you suddenly make friends. It’s a constant thing. The thoughts are always there. So I really appreciated seeing this (accurate) portrayal of clinical anxiety in a protagonist for once. The romance was pretty cute as well, but it didn’t make or break the story (which is a good thing).
In regard to character development, Rory’s was minimal but I think there is definitely room for improvement. The story ends just when she’s on the cusp of her “breakthrough”. I’m not sure if there will be another instalment about her but this book is a start. I’m keen to see how she deals with her anxiety during her extended stay in Rome, and whether this extra time will prove to be more beneficial or damaging to her mental health.
Overall, a quick and easy read. Looking forward to a sequel that allows more time for Rory’s self-actualization.
★★★ (3.5 stars) because the good things outweighed the bad. And there’s definitely potential for more.