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.

Quick Thoughts and Rating: 1 star! This book wasn’t my cup of tea. Maybe others will be fond of it, but yeah. . .not for me. Ultimately, I feel really mislead by whomever chose to compare this to a New Adult version of Anna and the French Kiss because that’s setting up the reader for high expectations and for lots of room for the book not to meet them.

♥ Review: I’m going to try to be super brief because I just don’t want to be a jerk. Bluntly stated, I didn’t enjoy this book. There were several points while reading that I wanted to DNF (and now knowing what I do, I should have saved myself those hours and called it quits), but I kept pushing through in the hopes that our poor heroine would experience a little growth. In the end there was a little, but it was so minimal that I wouldn’t exactly consider it “growth” just a moment of bravery. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me break this down into what exactly didn’t work for me.

  • Our heroine and her lack of development: Bless Rory’s little heart, but she was super neurotic. At the beginning, I mistook her anxiety and constant inner monologue of self-loathing for the whirlwind of being in a new country and trying to adjust to that. I even found it somewhat endearing and relatable seeing as I’m a little socially awkward and a bit of an anxious worrier in my own right. But after spending the first 50% completely locked away in the inner workings of her tumultuous thoughts, my personal anxiety felt like a stroll in the park in comparison to hers. I’m not going to lie, it was mentally exhausting. But even more than that, I felt Rory had so much room to grow and the author chose to keep her in the same state that resulted in her coming across as, in the words of another character that was supposedly her friend, “pathetic” and according to herself “sheltered and naïve.” Even more, having her constantly repeating the same things over and over, leads to my next complaint…
  • Plot, pacing, and writing: The premise for this book had so much potential and yet it felt very one-note. So much of this book is literally spent in Rory’s mind, her obsessing about unnecessary things and beating herself down, that I sincerely feel like this book was one big, crazy-long monologue. Even worse, because of that, the pacing doesn’t go anywhere. It was a steady, endless stream of boring and just short of “crazy” inner-ranting about how she doesn’t belong, will never belong, and how she has to force love out of her life after a guy used here, except that suddenly she’s already in love with this new boy that she barely knows just because he pushed here hair behind her ear. No. Just no. I get all those things about self-doubt, as I imagine any girl would, but I also feel like everyone at some point experiences that critical moment in their life where they have to tell themselves, “Okay, self. Just stop. That’s enough of that garbage.” Additionally, I think so much of this story felt like it’s told to the reader and not experienced by the character, if you know what I mean. I needed to be more in the moment to connect to our main character, but I was never able to form that bond with her.
  •  The setting: They’re in Rome! ITALY! When this book was likened to Anna and the French Kiss in the summary, I just knew I would fall in love with it for the setting experience alone. In AatFK, I fell in love with a city that I had never been to just because of the way the author captured it so easily and made me feel like I was there through the eyes of her characters. Sadly, Ms. Hill failed to capture that same experience here. In fact, we rarely even get to “see” much of the city and that was rather disappointing.
  •  The romance and lack of a “real” ending: For me, there was no romance. Rory fell in love and Ned wanted to kiss her a lot and he was super fascinated with her hair, but I never felt a single spark or sensed any chemistry between them. Then she apparently wants to stay in Rome for herself and possibly for him, but we never get to see that. In a way, it appeared to have fallen off mid-scene. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say that it just felt incomplete.
  • Random bits: She sweats a lot. I know this is as weird thing to observe, but I just pictured her looking like she was constantly walking around in a downpour for how much she talk about sweat and pit stains on her shirts. (Blech. I’m still grossed out about it.) Aside from that, there was also the issue of me never connecting with any of the other secondary characters. All of the girls seemed generic and superficial. I don’t even remember much about them other than one of the girls that I don’t even remember her name–or any of the others, sadly–was kind of super bitchy and gave terrible advice. Lastly, I was incredibly annoyed by the numerous amount of times our TWENTY-ONE-YEAR-OLD heroine ran to her room and dove in her bed to hide. I get melodramatic moments, but the excess of it combined with her age and the reasons she was hiding just had me rolling my eyes after a point and wanting to tell her to grow up already.
Book Rating Breakdown
Writing
Characters
Plot
Pacing
Swoons
Overall:

♥ Rec It? Not really. Others may enjoy this, but I can’t in good conscience recommend it. It was a wonderful premise with an abundance of potential, but it needed a good bit more work and development before I think a majority of people would fall in love with it. Unfortunately, I’d have to recommend readers pass on this book, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think some people can connect with it.

♥ A very special thanks to Speak Now and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An advanced copy of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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