When in Rome...

( 38 )

Overview

When in Rome, do as Audrey Hepburn would do. Failing that, run off with your ex-boyfriend, carry suspicious packages through customs, and lie to the person who loves you. . . .

Georgie Beauchamp is totally happy and in love with her wonderful, dependable boyfriend, David. So why does she always daydream about running into her gorgeous ex-boyfriend Mike? It can’t mean she’s still in love with him—especially since the cad dumped her so horribly. As luck would have it, when ...

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When in Rome...

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Overview

When in Rome, do as Audrey Hepburn would do. Failing that, run off with your ex-boyfriend, carry suspicious packages through customs, and lie to the person who loves you. . . .

Georgie Beauchamp is totally happy and in love with her wonderful, dependable boyfriend, David. So why does she always daydream about running into her gorgeous ex-boyfriend Mike? It can’t mean she’s still in love with him—especially since the cad dumped her so horribly. As luck would have it, when Georgie’s daydream actually comes true, she is dressed in unglamorous sweats and carrying a curtain rod down the street, while Mike is driving an expensive sports car and looking better than Brad Pitt at the Oscars. She longs to have the glamorous life Mike can offer—and starts to think that he might want her back in his arms.

But when he invites her for a weekend in Rome, Georgie is torn. David has always said he’d take her there for the romantic getaway of a lifetime, but his work keeps him totally tied up. So she must choose: David, all comfort and reliability, or Mike, all flirtation and butterfly-stomachs. The decision isn’t too hard to make, and faster than she can say Vespa, she’s off to Rome with Mike, full of plans to frolic on the Spanish Steps and sip wine in intimate trattorias. But when David shows up unexpectedly, this roman holiday gets a hell of a lot more complicated. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Gemma Townley’s story is infectious, charming and hysterical. She’s an author after my own heart.”
—SHERRIE KRANTZ, author of The Autobiography of Vivian
and Vivian Lives

“As sweet and frothy as a cappuccino, this engaging Roman Holiday-inspired romp reveals the importance of a ‘victory haircut’ and the transformative powers of shopping at Gucci!”
—MELISSA DE LA CRUZ, author of Cat’s Meow
and How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less

“A refreshing, funny, pacy book, it made me want to rush off to Rome and be Audrey Hepburn. I loved it!”
—SOPHIE KINSELLA
Author of Confessions of a Shopaholic

Publishers Weekly
Scattered with references to Roman Holiday, this would-be madcap romantic comedy by the sister of bestselling chick-lit writer Sophie Kinsella strives for love, laughs and intrigue but lacks the necessary charm and flair. Blithely irresponsible Georgie Beauchamps, a researcher at a legal publishing company in London, dates serious, dependable David Bradley, an accountant who investigates crooked financial dealings. But Georgie still holds a torch for her ex, the devilishly handsome Mike Marshall, and when Mike asks her to accompany him on a trip to Rome, Georgie jumps at the opportunity, thinking he has realized the error of his ways and is trying to win her back. But the suddenly wealthy Mike seems to be up to no good, and when David shows up in Rome on business, Georgie slowly starts delving into the puzzle. But Georgie unveils more than just a mystery-she discovers a source of strength in herself, uncovering a scandal at her own company and accusing long-suffering David of treating her like a child when he miraculously forgives her for her dalliances and betrayals. David may play along, but some readers will be rubbed the wrong way by Georgie. Though the plot zooms as fast (if sometimes as erratically) as a Vespa on the streets of Rome, the novel's selfish protagonist drains the fun from this jangly caper. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Top stories in today's news: to meet a hungry world's growing demand for chick-lit plots, scientists have announced the cloning of an embryonic heroine who is cute, fluffy, clueless, and never grows up .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345467560
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/3/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,194,728
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

GEMMA TOWNLEY is also the author of Little White Lies. She launched her writing career at the age of sixteen with a book review in Harpers & Queen. While at Reading University, Gemma, a singer, cellist, and bassist, found time to record two albums with her band, Blueboy, with which she toured the U.K., France, and Japan. After graduating, she worked on and contributed to a number of magazines, including Homes and Ideas, Pay Magazine, Expat Investor, and Company. She also wrote about music for style magazines including G-Spot and Second Generation. She later became an editor at Financial Management magazine.

Gemma is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is studying for an MBA at Henley Management College. She lives in West London with her husband, Mark.

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Read an Excerpt

1

I have this little fantasy. I’m walking down the street, on my way somewhere really cool, when I see Mike out of the corner of my eye. I’m looking good; I’ve lost a few pounds and have just got back from somewhere exotic, so I’ve got a nice tan. I’m walking along hand in hand with Pierce Brosnan, or maybe Russell Crowe—you know, so long as he keeps his temper under control. Or even Brad Pitt. I mean, I know he’s married to Jennifer Aniston and everything, but I’d only be borrowing him. The point is that I’m with someone gorgeous, glamorous, and obviously besotted with me. Whereas Mike is on his own and looks really lonely. His horribly thin blond girlfriend has left him and he is looking terrible. I can tell just from looking that things are not going well—he has lost his arrogant swagger and is sort of shuffling along the street. And when he claps eyes on me he suddenly sees how stupid he was to dump me. He immediately understands that things started going wrong from the moment we split up, and he realizes that he has never stopped loving me. He looks at me and smiles hopefully. Do I stop and talk to him? Do I, hell. I walk past, giving him a sympathetic smile as Pierce/Brad/Russell and I make our way to some glamorous party.

That’s the way it’s meant to go. That’s the way I’ve imagined it for the past two years. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go as planned.

In reality, it’s Sunday afternoon when I bump into Mike. A dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon, and David and I are on our way back from Homebase, the hardware store; my curtains have fallen down and David has offered to help me put up a new rail. We’re walking along carrying this stupid iron rod thing and I’m not really looking at anything except my feet. So when a car slams to a halt next to us and drenches us with water, I go over to the driver’s window and start shouting stuff about Sunday drivers and people not looking where they’re going. I’m wet through and my new Jimmy Choos are ruined (I know I shouldn’t have worn them, but I was watching old episodes of “Sex and the City” last night, and was inspired to turn a boring shopping trip into a glamorous expedition by wearing high, frivolous shoes). And then the car window comes down and a really sexy face looks up at me and says “Georgie?”

I mean, I’m over Mike. I really am. And I’m also completely in love with my boyfriend, David. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten that Mike dumped me by leaving a note on the kitchen table. That after two years of running around after him, he didn’t even have the decency to say good-bye. Naturally, I think he’s despicable. And I’m very pleased that he never got back in touch (not even to see how I was or anything), because I have absolutely nothing to say to him. It’s just that I’d like to know, you know, that things have gone downhill since we broke up. That he can’t believe how stupid he was to leave me. That he hugs his pillow at night, pretending that it’s me. That he would do anything to get me back. Just so I can turn him down, you understand.

The thing is, Mike’s the sort of person people like me don’t usually get to go out with. I mentioned Brad Pitt earlier, remember? Well, Mike’s up there with him and Jude Law and Hugh Grant and Robbie Williams. He’s drop-dead gorgeous. Everyone loves him. When you walk down the street with him people stare. And for two whole years he was going out with me.

So there I am in the street, with hair stuck to my face, looking at Mike sitting in some amazing car, grinning. He starts saying something about how great it is to see me, and then he sees David.

I should probably mention that David and Mike don’t get on very well. Actually, they hate each other’s guts—done since school. It’s never been an issue—I didn’t start going out with David until after Mike left, and I haven’t seen Mike since. But it does make chance meetings like this a bit awkward. For a moment I kind of revel in the idea of two men staring each other out because of me, but then I start feeling a bit sorry for David. He’s always been the one who did well for himself, got a proper job and everything, while Mike has been doing sod all since leaving university (he didn’t do much there either by all accounts—he gets very sketchy when you ask him about his degree), and now here’s Mike in a swanky BMW looking like a pop star or something, while we stand on the road feeling cold and miserable. Or is that just me?

Either way, this is not the time for conversations with Mike. I have no time to compose myself and to suddenly appear cool and successful. So I tell him we have to be getting on (“you know,” I want to add, “got a couple of premieres to go to . . .”), then he winks and says “Bye, gorgeous,” and he’s off.

David and I stand by the road for a couple of minutes not saying anything. Like we’re not quite ready to go back to our boring existence just yet.

“Come on, darling,” David manages eventually. “Let’s go home and have a nice cup of tea.”

We get back to my flat and David puts the kettle on. David’s response to any crisis is to make tea. Which is good—I mean, Mike used to go out and buy a bottle of whiskey if things didn’t go his way. Tea is much better in my opinion.

I sit at the kitchen table, watching him methodically warming up the teapot (tea is important to David; it just doesn’t taste the same if you don’t use a pot) and adding the right amount of tea leaves. The curtain pole is leaning up against the wall and the rain is still pouring down.

“Is that the first time you’ve seen Mike since—”

“Yeah.” I’m trying to sound uninterested, but since Mike drove off I’ve been going over and over our encounter in my head. What did I look like? How did I come across? Did he look single?

“You’re okay?”

“Okay? Of course I am. Why shouldn’t I be? Actually, I think he looked rather podgy. Don’t you think?”

I want to talk about Mike, I want to discuss in minute detail everything about our meeting, to analyze every look and nuance. But I can’t, not with David, anyway.

“Really? I couldn’t tell,” says David in measured tones.

“Must be all that good living.”

“Good living?”

“Oh come on—the car, his clothes. He’s obviously doing well for himself,” I say, as airily as I can. I hope I don’t sound as bitter as I feel.

“Mike doing well for himself? More like doing well off of someone else,” says David evenly as he swirls the teapot.

“You think his girlfriend is rich then?”

I haven’t met or seen the girl Mike left me for. For all I know he could be on his fifth girlfriend since me, but I always picture him with the same person, and I generally imagine her to be incredibly annoying and rather stupid. All I know is that she is blond and thin. My neighbor saw her picking him up in a Mercedes when he walked out on me. He didn’t remember much about her—although he described the car in detail—but I could tell from what little he told me that she was your average nightmare. Pretty. Long legs. You know the sort.

“Girlfriend, parents, friends—anyone he can get money out of.” David brings over two mugs of tea and a packet of biscuits and sits down opposite me. I sometimes forget how good-looking David is—he’s got a really strong face and gorgeous blue eyes that twinkle when he smiles. Maybe not quite in Mike territory, but pretty tasty all the same.

“But enough of Mike,” he says very slowly. “I think right now we should forget the stupid curtains and watch a good film instead.”

I sit down on the sofa with a hot cup of tea, and David walks over to the shelf to pick out a video. It’s only done for show, because we always end up watching the same one.

There are two films I know by heart and back to front. One of them is Footloose (owing to a teenage crush on Kevin Bacon), and the other is Roman Holiday. I don’t know exactly why, but David and I have watched it at least twenty times, and I never get bored of it—it’s so sad, so funny, it’s set in gorgeous Rome, and Audrey Hepburn looks just amazing. She plays a princess who has to spend all her time going round meeting people and making speeches; Gregory Peck is a cynical American journalist who’s trying to make enough money to get back home. She escapes from the embassy for one night and meets him, then they spend the day together before she goes back to being a princess—having fallen in love with him of course. Oh, and he realizes who she is and decides he could get a front-page story out of it, then doesn’t go through with it because he falls in love with her, too. Okay, so it’s not particularly realistic, but still. The first time we watched it, we were transfixed. And right afterward, David murmured in my ear “I’m going to take you to Rome, my darling. I’ve going to hire one of those scooters and I’m going to take you wherever you want to go.”

I mean, how romantic is that? I have that picture in my head a lot—me being like Audrey Hepburn, floating around in pretty dresses, and David being like Gregory Peck, all manly and hard but warm in the center.

Of course we haven’t actually been to Rome yet—David’s always really busy with work and stuff—but we’re going to go. Definitely. I actually bought some plane tickets to Rome about a year ago, as a surprise. I’d arranged with David’s PA for him to have a Friday off and I was going to turn up at his office on Thursday evening and whisk him off for a long weekend. But then on the Monday before there was a huge crisis at work and he had to go to New York on short notice. I didn’t actually tell him about the tickets to Rome because I didn’t want him to feel bad. Still, there’s always this year. David has promised me that he’s going to take a proper holiday this year, so nothing’s going to stop us.

I lean my head on David’s shoulder as the film begins. Already I’m a European princess and he’s my sexy bit of rough.

Except that David isn’t quite Gregory Peck, if you know what I mean. He is solid, dependable, respectable, and generous. He’s also an accountant—and I can’t imagine Gregory Peck spending hours looking at boring numbers, can you? Actually, David’s what you call a forensic accountant, which is perhaps a little bit nearer Gregory Peck territory. When he told me, I thought he meant he was going to be working for Scotland Yard, but he told me it isn’t that sort of forensic. But it does sound better than numbers crunching; forensic accountants trace dodgy dealings and stuff. Like once he was working on the divorce settlement case of some really rich businessman, and his job was to track down the numerous offshore bank accounts where the husband had put all his money so he didn’t have to give any of it to his wife. And another time he was investigating this drug ring that had bought up a whole load of property in London. Last year his firm even started working for the Fraud Squad, and now he gets to work with the police and secret intelligence and people like that. But that’s about as much as I know. Somehow David makes exciting things like breaking drug rings sound really quite boring—lots of detailed investigations into balance sheets, and no breaking down doors and shouting “Hold it right there.” I guess he’s still an accountant; he just happens to be an accountant who works for the Fraud Squad and that’s just not the same, is it? Not that there’s anything wrong with being an accountant or anything, but they don’t tend to be cool and strong, silent types. Come to think of it, they don’t usually get invited to particularly good parties either. Unless you count the Accountancy Age Awards, that is, and I don’t.

Mike, on the other hand, is a bit nearer the mark. He never really had a job, as such, but he is a really good DJ and record promoter (I’ve only heard him DJ once and he was a bit drunk, but he told me about how he could have been more famous than Pete Tong if he’d wanted to), and he’s really well connected and stuff. Like, if you want to go to a gig, he can always get guest-list passes. And whenever you read an article on some new model or musician or actress, Mike always knows them. At least he did two years ago, but I can’t imagine he’s changed that much.

Sorry, I was talking about David, wasn’t I. Okay, so David is really nice. He’s “take home and meet the parents” nice. He earns quite a lot of money I think—we always go to nice restaurants and he never lets me pay unless we go to Pizza Express. He’s also got a really nice flat in Putney, on the river.

I first met him at a dinner party that my old school friend Candida had “thrown.” Candy is not like most of my friends—she has “chums” named Rupert or Julian and she has “soirees” instead of parties. Anyway, I was at a loose end and Candy thought a dinner party might be fun, so I dutifully bought a cheap bottle of wine, put on some lippy, and took the Tube to her Notting Hill flat.

I love going to Candy’s flat, not that I’ve been there for ages; I kind of fell out of touch with Candy a bit before I met David again. To be honest, we never had that much in common; we used to live near each other when I was younger and we kind of stayed in touch. But her flat is gorgeous—stucco-fronted, with a huge garden that’s shared with the other houses in her street. And it’s huge: three bedrooms, a sitting room, and a separate dining room. I mean who has room for a dining room when they live in London? Not me, certainly. Which is probably why I don’t have dinner parties very often—or ever, actually.

As soon as I got to Candy’s I realized I’d made a huge mistake. She was all dressed up in this incredible backless number, and seemed to have half forgotten that she’d invited me when I arrived. And then, after she’d introduced me to all her boarding school “chums” and I was just beginning to relax, Bridget and Ralf, one of the couples there, announced that they had just done a wine tasting course at Christie’s and were going to deliver a verdict on all the wines on the table. Thinking that my £2.99 Château de somewhere in Eastern Europe would not hold its own against the expensive-looking French wine already out, I made my way to the kitchen to hide my wine at the very back of the fridge, figuring that no one cares what wine tastes like when you’re on the eighth bottle. Except that someone stopped me before I could get there.

A very good-looking guy dressed in black and in Prada trainers grabbed my hand and called out really loudly “Candy, one of your guests is trying to sneak her wine out.” I turned a horrible puce color. I couldn’t remember his name even though we’d been introduced about five minutes ago, but decided I hated him already.

“Needs cooling,” I muttered, trying to get past him.

“Rubbish,” he said in his public school tones, prising the wine from my hand. “I think it’s already cold enough in Bulgaria, isn’t it?”

He was laughing and I smiled thinly. Everyone in the room had stopped talking at this point and was looking awkwardly at me, not quite sure what to say. And then someone came to my defense. A rather sweet-looking bloke wearing chinos with a shirt tucked in walked over.

“Bulgaria has actually won some major prizes for its wine-making recently,” he said seriously. “And 1999 was a particularly good year in some regions.”

I smiled gratefully and took my bottle back from the Prada-wearing bastard who had mortified me in front of people I’d never met before. He laughed again and wandered off toward two girls who immediately kissed him and laughed loudly at everything he said. I realized that the guy in chinos was still standing next to me. “I’m David,” he said. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

Of course, it took another two and a half years before I started seeing David. That night I ended up sleeping with the guy who was rude about my wine. He was called Mike and we left halfway through the meal because his hand was inching under my skirt and I couldn’t believe that someone so gorgeous was interested in me.

David was very good about it. I bumped into him about six months after Mike left, and he asked me out to dinner. And then he asked me out again. He was so sweet! He called when he said he would. And now he’s helping me put my curtains up. I mean, how nice is that?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 38 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 22, 2012

    Predictable, unrealistic, and too many shortcomings

    I would rate this book 2 1/2 stars. It wasn't bad to read, but it could have been better. First the story started off with the main character wondering what she could have had and might have the chance to have again with her ex-boyfriend Mike while she's with her currently reliable almost boring boyfriend David. That's a plausible and interesting start, but then the plot got ridiculous. Somehow it worked out way to well that she had an opportunity to follow Mike to Rome and David happened to be there to sweep her off her feet (so that the readers can see who we should be rooting for and why). The author talked about Roman Holiday and True Lies so much that the book wanted to be some sort of weird combination of the two and didn't pull it off well. The setting was from Roman Holiday, David was trying to be like Arnold S., and the romance from both movies. The main character's lack of thought was frustrating, her deeds predictable, and her epiphany anticlimatic. The ending wrapped up way too well and fast and came off unrealistic. I would remember this book for the wrong reasons; I would pass on this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    Fun Read

    Who hasn't wanted to run into an ex before? The main character does and she is then forced to choose between the ex and the current beau. Its a cute book filled with excitement. The writing style seemed like that of Sophie Kinsella/Madeline Wickham, so if you love any of her books then you would love this book. It is an easy and fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Horrible!

    The plot in this book was so easily predictable. I couldn't get into the story or the character. I found Georgie to be very selfish, self-centered, and annoying. There were times when I wanted to reach into the book and just shake her for being so clueless. Gemma Townley is a good author and I've read some of other books but this one was just horrible!

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Very Fun Reading

    I really enjoyed reading this novel. It was hard to put down, and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

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  • Posted May 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    LOVED IT

    Any fan of the movie Roman Holiday will adore this book....

    Gemma Townley is one of my favorite writers of all times. Her books are gripping from the first page and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Every story has great characters, heartwarming plots, and hilarious dialoge. You'll fall in love with all the characters from the beginning and want to read every book she has ever written. You won't regret this buy!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2007

    Funny Chick-Lit

    While the heroine does have moments where she is selfish, I like her. Sure, her reasoning and thinking can be a little out there, but I'm sure all of us have been there, which makes it easy for us to relate to her. David is such a great boyfriend, but he does have his flaws. Georgie wasn't perfect and messed up more than he did, but this couple was really endearing. It was a funny read and there were some parts where I felt so much for Georgie! She really does mean well, she just needed to get certain things in tact and find out what was important to her (which she does)! Read it, it's funny :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2006

    A must-read for Roman Holiday Fans!

    As an Audrey Hepburn Fan, I really enjoyed this book, simply for the references to my favorite movie 'Roman Holiday'. The story was cute as well... A woman torn between two men. I was surprised to find a bit of a mystery involved and it was a little hard to really get into what was happening, but at the end it all starts to make sense. I was hoping for a lot more references to Roman Holiday, but for the effort This author deserves an 'A'. She knows how to keep people interested and injected lots of humor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2006

    Fun, Funny, Fast and Fresh!

    Classic Chick Lit. This book was a great weekend read. The main character is so much fun to follow as she delves into a life that she can't help, but think that she wants again with her old boyfriend. Along the way she tells a few lies here and there and slowly, but surely discovers what she really wants in life and what was in front of her the entire time. Sometimes it takes a little blast from the past, getting mixed in business that you should be mixed in and doing a little detective work to figure what really matters in life and what other people might not be telling you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2005

    Fast and funny...

    I read this book in two days, and I was laughing all the way through. She is kind of predictable, but Georgie is such a mess and so naive that you can't help but love her. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a fast, fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2005

    So-So

    This was a cute story. Georgie was likable, but I frequently found myself yelling at her for being such a ditz and sometimes selfish. Still, it was a quick, fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2005

    Good, but I've read better novels like Little Kingdoms by Michael Lubarsky

    OK, I liked this book. I even enjoyed most of it, but it lacked detail and the characters do take a little while to develop. However, it just is not as good as so many other books available here at Barnes and Noble. For example, if you want a romantic, well written book set in Europe then you should check out Little Kingdoms by Michael Lubarsky. The depth of the chracters in such a short novel is breathtaking. You can feel their pain and love amid the salt air of Greek beaches and the joy of falling in love in the German countryside.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2005

    Great book!

    I enjoyed this book. It look some time to get used to the characters in the beginning but with a little mystery, romance and the always needed drama, it was just what I was looking for. Great read and love the writing style. Georgie was a lovable character that I related to... always up to something but can't help but love her!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2004

    Nothing like Shopaholic...

    This book was horrible. It was unbelievably frustrating how stupid, indecisive, and immature the main character was. What pissed me off even more was that she got the guy in the end. I would have like the book even more, b/c she def. did not deserve him. The only reason why I read this book was b/c I found out that the author is Sophie Kinsella's sister...I was very disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2004

    Fun Book!

    This book has all the spunk of a Sophie Kinsella novel. You just have to laugh out loud. I couldn't put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2004

    Fun Read

    This book was so entertaining I couldn't put it down. What a great summer read, unexpected twists and adventure make it a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2004

    W O W

    ok..i didn't have any expectations for this book..seriously, how many love triangles can authors put on paper and try to sell as a novel idea...but 'when in rome' had spunk, charisma and extremely witty humor. georgie's promblems reminice our own: love or lust...and gemma townley write her story in such as way that you don't ever want to put it down...YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2004

    Really funny and sweet

    I haven't read anything else by this author, but this book was really funny and entertaining and I couldn't put it down. It's light but there aren't any boring bits. It would make a great holiday read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2004

    Funny, light read

    A great, light read; kept me laughing the whole time; I couldnt put it down and read it straight through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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