Rome in Love: A Novel

Rome in Love: A Novel

by Anita Hughes

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466869332
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/04/2015
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 203,119
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

ANITA HUGHES is the author of Lake Como, Monarch Beach, Market Street, and French Coast. She attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.

ANITA HUGHES is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Christmas in Paris, White Sand, Blue Sea, and Emerald Coast. She attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.

Read an Excerpt

Rome in Love

By Anita Hughes

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Anita Hughes
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6933-2


Amelia stood on the balcony of the Hassler Hotel and gazed at the twinkling lights of the Spanish Steps. She could see the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica and the dim outline of the Vatican. She took a deep breath, inhaling exhaust fumes from the endless stream of yellow taxis, and tried to remind herself she was in Rome.

Amelia smoothed the folds of her pink satin Balenciaga evening gown and checked that the borrowed Harry Winston diamond clip still held back her hair. She stroked the white silk gloves and fingered the diamond and sapphire choker around her neck. It was all a fairy tale: the ivory Bentley that picked her up from Rome Airport, the elegant suite at the Hassler with its black-and-white marble floors, the Spanish Steps at her feet and all the places she read about in guidebooks: the Sistine Chapel with its intricate frescoes, the Via Condotti with its string of elegant boutiques, the Colosseum and the Pantheon and the museums with long, flowery names.

Amelia tried to recapture the thrill when the concierge welcomed her with a bouquet of two dozen yellow roses and her own personal butler. She tried to remember the first glimpse of her suite: the silver ice bucket, the gold tray of chocolate truffles and petit fours, the mahogany four-poster bed. But her legs were shaky from jet lag, her head throbbed from too much champagne and not enough food, and her mouth was frozen in a permanent smile.

For the last two hours she stood in the grand ballroom, her large brown eyes coated with thick mascara, her cheeks powdered, her lips painted with pink lipstick, and answered the journalists' questions.

"How does it feel to go from being a complete unknown to being nominated for a Spirit Award for best supporting actress for your first role to starring in the remake of Roman Holiday? Warner Brothers invested a hundred million dollars in this picture, do you feel the pressure with your name above the title?"

Amelia had tilted her head and answered in the way Sheldon Rose, her producer, taught her.

"Why, Mr. Winters" — squinting so she could read the reporter's name tag and then waiting so the journalists focused on her white shoulders and creamy skin instead of her words — "when you put the question like that, I don't feel any pressure at all."

The room erupted into polite laughter but the questions kept coming.

"Variety quoted you as saying 'Audrey Hepburn is my idol and I can't imagine ever hearing my name in the same sentence.' Are you nervous about playing the role that made her famous?"

"Is it true you were premed at USC and Spike Jonze discovered you when you drove a friend to an audition?"

"Are you and Whit breaking up? Does he really wish you'd give up acting and pursue a career in medicine?"

Amelia paused again, longer so that she didn't say what she was thinking: it's none of your business how Whit feels, I could never give up acting, we're madly in love, he bought me these gorgeous teardrop earrings before I left for Rome. Instead, she touched her earrings gently, smoothed the folds of her gown and smiled.

"There's a reason why they call it one's 'private life,' Mr. Gould" — again reading his name tag, trying to look him in the eye so he wouldn't fire off some scathing article that she refused to answer personal questions, and finally a slow genuine smile — "because it's best to keep it private."

Then more champagne plucked from the trays that floated past carrying crystal champagne flutes and silver goblets filled with plump prawns and slices of melon. She smelled tomato sauce and garlic and longed to sit down to a plate of steaming ravioli and thick bread dipped in olive oil. But her dress was so tight it was almost spray-painted to her hips, and it was impossible to answer questions with a mouth full of pasta, so she guzzled champagne and waited for Sheldon to say, "Thank you all for coming, Miss Tate cherishes each and every one of you, but if she doesn't get her rest she'll miss her six A.M. call."

But Sheldon seemed to have disappeared and Macy Smith, editor of Vogue, came gunning down the Oriental runner. Amelia remembered her vicious critique of her choice in Oscar dresses and desperately needed some air. She ran out of the ballroom, down one flight of marble stairs and onto the balcony. Now she stood, wishing she had grabbed a puffed pastry or at least a stone wheat cracker, and gazed at the ancient, glittering city.

Amelia had always been fascinated by Rome: the elegant restaurants opposite cramped trattorias, the modern stores flanked by stone arches, the women wearing sleek dresses and smooth pageboys and large gold earrings. She had only been once, on a school chorus trip in the eighth grade, but she loved the creamy fettuccine and sweet gelato and the boys wearing leather jackets and driving Vespas. She remembered standing in the middle of the Via Appia and a boy with curly brown hair driving around her in circles and never wanting to leave.

Now Rome was her home for two glorious months. They were shooting the whole movie on location, at the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona and the Castel Sant'Angelo. Sheldon had given her the Villa Medici suite — the same hotel room where Audrey Hepburn stayed more than fifty years ago. Amelia remembered standing in front of the gilt mirror in the pink marble bathroom and picturing Audrey Hepburn brushing her hair and fixing her lipstick and slipping on a floral dress with a tiny waist and full flared skirt.

Amelia heard laughter on the street below and heels clicking on the sidewalk. She imagined late-night dinners of spaghetti and red wine and brisk morning walks to the Colosseum. Then she remembered everything she heard about Sheldon Rose: he arrived on the set when the sun came up and didn't release anyone until nighttime. She thought of the paparazzi who would trail her after hours, hoping to catch her without makeup in sweats and sneakers. Suddenly she had a desperate desire to slip out of the borrowed Balenciaga gown, unstrap the jeweled Prada sandals, and disappear into the street.

She ducked into the hallway and down the staircase. She walked quickly to the back of the hotel, past the sumptuous Imago restaurant and ornate conference rooms and dark, elegant library. She ran through the kitchen door, past the huge granite islands and giant chrome refrigerators and double sinks. She took the back stairs to the basement and searched for a door that would empty into the street.

Amelia blinked in the dark and realized she was in the laundry. She saw massive washing machines and dryers and rows of silver irons. She saw tall lockers and piles of neatly pressed uniforms. She stopped to catch her breath and suddenly had an idea.

She unzipped her gown and carefully folded it into a square. She slipped it into a laundry bag and added her sandals and sequined evening bag. She buttoned the starched black maid's uniform and tied a white apron around her waist. She covered her hair with a cotton scarf and stored the laundry bag in a locker. She found the back door and ran onto the street.

The night air hit her like an electric current. The air was damp and the clouds hung low over the rooftops. She glanced around to make sure no one was looking and dashed down the Spanish Steps and onto the Piazza di Spagna.

Amelia skipped along the cobblestones like a child released from Sunday school. She pictured Macy Smith waiting to grill her about her wardrobe and wanted to collapse on the sidewalk in a fit of giggles. She smelled espresso and cinnamon and amaretto and longed to sit at a café until her head stopped spinning.

She saw a couple leaving a restaurant; their heads pressed together, the man's arm looped around the woman's waist. Suddenly she missed Whit so much, it felt like an invisible weight pressed against her chest. She remembered their last dinner before she left for Rome, at Alembic in the Haight. She flew up from Los Angeles and they had two glorious days in San Francisco.

Whit took a whole day off work and they rode bicycles in Golden Gate Park and visited the Legion of Honor. Amelia gazed at the paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael and shivered. She couldn't believe in forty-eight hours she would be surrounded by Italian art and architecture.

Amelia remembered sitting across from Whit and holding hands in the candlelight. Whit wore a white collared shirt and a navy blazer and tan twill slacks. His dark hair touched his collar and he smelled of Hugo Boss cologne.

"Do you remember our first date?" he asked, eating a garlic baked potato fry. "We lined up to see Titanic at the campus theater and laughed that an engineering major and a premed student could never sit through a three-hour movie. We'd fall asleep before we finished our first bucket of popcorn."

Amelia looked at Whit's clear blue eyes and remembered the first time she saw him. She was camped out in her usual corner of the science and engineering library cramming for a physics exam. Her calculator clattered to the floor and she reached down to pick it up. When she looked up she saw a young man with eyes as clear as a lake. He wore a baseball cap over curly dark hair and had a day's stubble on his chin.

"Just think," Whit mused, eating chicken pavé with beet gnocchi, "if you stayed with medicine you'd be finishing your residency at San Francisco General. We'd eat Chinese takeout every night and you'd be living in Gap sweatpants and my Adidas T-shirts. Instead we live in different cities and you own couture gowns by Valentino and Dior."

Amelia's stomach clenched and her throat closed up. She remembered when Whit received his first round of funding. It was a year after graduation and they lived in a studio apartment in Santa Monica. Amelia just finished filming Hannah's Secret and Whit spent his days trying to secure investors for his electric car company.

"I met with Caufield Perkins." Whit dropped his briefcase on the coffee table. "They're ready to write us a check."

Amelia glanced up from a pile of scripts and saw Whit's navy suit and white shirt and black leather shoes. She smiled, thinking she still wasn't used to seeing him in anything except Adidas T-shirts and running shorts.

"They want us to move our operation to San Francisco," Whit continued, loosening his tie.

"San Francisco?" Amelia raised her eyebrow.

"We looked at an industrial space in Potrero Hill, they want to keep an eye on their investment." Whit shrugged. "We can rent an apartment on Russian Hill and eat at Italian restaurants in North Beach."

"I'm an actress." Amelia bit her lip. "I need to live in Hollywood."

Whit drummed his fingers on the coffee table. "I thought after this movie you might go back to medicine."

"Why would you think that?" Amelia asked.

"It was all just a fluke," Whit mused. "You got it out of your system."

"I love acting, I don't want to give it up," Amelia said slowly.

"We haven't gotten any other offers," Whit replied. "This is our one shot, I need to be in San Francisco."

Amelia pictured a quaint apartment on Russian Hill. She saw sidewalks filled with bougainvillea and corner groceries stocked with gourmet coffees and cheeses. She imagined preparing dinners of spinach salad and stuffed ravioli and sourdough bread. She saw nights spent on the roof-deck, sipping a Kenwood Cabernet and gazing at the twinkling lights of the city.

She loved visiting San Francisco. She loved the steep hills and the white houses and the wide views of the bay. She loved the outdoor markets in Chinatown and the vintage clothing stores in the Haight. But if she was going to be an actress she should live in Hollywood, where producers could bump into her at Coffee Bean & Tea.

"I'll fly up every weekend." Amelia blinked away sudden tears. "We'll go wine tasting in Napa and eat at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. We'll spend Sundays in bed with the New York Times and mugs of Peet's coffee."

The first few months were one long honeymoon. They flew kites on Crissy Field and hiked to the top of Mount Diablo. They ate at trendy new restaurants on Union Street and in the Castro. But then Whit started working longer hours and complained he was tired of playing tourist. He wanted to curl up with Amelia in front of the television and eat pizza and watch CSI.

* * *

"The lead in Roman Holiday is the chance of a lifetime." Amelia brushed her brown hair behind her ears. She wore a green cotton sweater and beige capris and flat Tory Burch pumps. Her face was free of makeup except for mascara and a hint of clear lip gloss. "After the movie wraps I'll take a month off. We'll drive up the coast and stay in a bed and breakfast in Mendocino."

"I'm proud of what you do." Whit cut beef tendons with white truffles. "I just wished we didn't live five hundred miles apart and the paparazzi didn't write down our orders at Starbucks."

"They'll find some new ingenue." Amelia nibbled shishito peppers with anchovy salt. "Soon I'll be newspaper wrapping for old fish."

They drank vodka gimlets and listened to soft jazz and Amelia turned the conversation to Whit's new prototype.

"I think it's ready for the road." Whit stirred melting ice cubes. "We're going to drive from San Francisco to Santa Barbara without recharging."

Amelia gazed at Whit's bright eyes and hard cheekbones and thought he was lit by some inner fire. She sipped the bitter vodka, feeling his fingers press into her shoulder, and wished he understood how much she loved acting.

They paid the check and walked onto the sidewalk. They passed sushi restaurants and smoothie cafés and oyster bars. Amelia felt Whit's hand on her back and suddenly wished she wasn't going to Rome. She wanted to spend every weekend at dark restaurants sharing plates of baked fries. She wanted to listen to Whit's dreams of a whole fleet of electric cars.

They drove Whit's Prius to the underground garage and took the elevator to his apartment. Whit opened the door and Amelia saw her Coach luggage stacked neatly in the entry. She saw her light winter coat and her Burberry umbrella and her carry-on packed with an Italian dictionary and a stack of magazines. She gazed into the small living room and saw a ceramic vase filled with pink roses. She saw a bottle of champagne and two crystal champagne flutes and a silver tray of chocolate truffles.

"What's this?" Amelia asked.

"You didn't think your last dinner would be beef tendons and vodka gimlets in a smoky bar?" Whit drew a black velvet box out of his pocket. "This is for you."

Amelia sat on the navy Pottery Barn sofa and snapped open the box. She saw sparkling diamond teardrop earrings and her eyes misted over. "They're beautiful! But you can't afford this, they must cost a fortune."

"We got our second round of funding." Whit poured champagne into chilled champagne flutes. "You're going to be playing a princess, you have to look like one."

Amelia felt Whit's lips on hers and her shoulders relaxed. She reached for Whit's shirt and slowly undid the buttons. He kissed her harder, biting her lower lip and tracing her mouth with his fingers.

Amelia leaned against the cushions and felt Whit's mouth on her breasts. She unzipped her capris and let them slip to the floor. She sucked in her breath, guiding Whit's hands between her thighs. She slid off his shirt and buried her face in his chest.

Whit put one hand under her panties and slid his fingers inside her. He pushed his fingers in deeper, sending shivers down her spine. Amelia strained toward him, rubbing his chest with her palm. She gripped his shoulders, feeling the deep throbbing and the long, infinite release.

Whit took her hand and led her to the bedroom. He unzipped his slacks and slipped off his socks. He pulled Amelia's sweater over her head and unsnapped her bra. He turned down the white cotton sheets and lay down on the bed.

Amelia kissed him on the lips, tasting champagne and chocolate. She wrapped her arms around him and drew him on top of her. She dug her fingers into his back, catching his rhythm, feeling the slow build, the delicious pause and then the final bolt of pleasure.


Excerpted from Rome in Love by Anita Hughes. Copyright © 2015 Anita Hughes. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Rome in Love: A Novel 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Silly plot, reads like an ad for clothes with locations from a Rome travel guide tossed in. Totally lost all appreciation when she said Audrey Hepburn was too tall to be a ballerina.
Mich6215 More than 1 year ago
Overall it is a cute story, however it could have been developed a lot more. The author spends a lot of time detailing the food that is being eaten, which is wonderful and makes you want to run out to the nearest Italian restaurant to indulge, but is just gets so repetitive when she spends so much time on that and not on the meat of the story. I have to say that there were 2 things that were so repetitive I found it
CatmomJD More than 1 year ago
This book has it all, memorable characters, a beautiful setting, friendships and love. Lots of talk of food and fashion didn’t hurt either. The story is a glorious escape. It will stay on your mind for a long time. Actress Amelia Tate gets the role of a lifetime starring in the remake of Roman Holiday. Playing Audrey Hepburn’s part will be a big step in her acting career. But it is putting a strain on her love life. Her fiancé wants her to settle down with him, get a real job and quit acting. Amelia loves acting, so she follows her heart and goes to Rome to film to movie. While in Rome, Amelia has many adventures with her newly found friend, Princess Sophia and falls in love with Philip, a journalist. Amelia leads Philip to believe she is just a maid at the hotel where she is staying. Philip isn’t completely honest with Amelia either. How can a romance started with lies work out? Amelia also discovers she is staying in the very same suite where Audrey Hepburn stayed while she was filming Roman Holiday. She discovers a stack of letter written by the star and spends her days and nights reading them and discovers many secrets about one of her favorite actresses. There are so many great moments in this book. I loved it and I know I will be reading it again soon.
gaele More than 1 year ago
A story about the remaking of the classic movie Roman Holiday is the premise of this title, as we follow a starlet, Amelia, chosen for the starring role and her journey during the filming. You don’t have to know the movie to understand this title, the plotting is fairly clear and the moments are well-defined where movie and life collide. Amelia is the new “It Girl”, and the opportunity to live and work in Rome while making this movie seems like a dream come true. When she discovers a treasure trove of letters written BY Audrey Hepburn during the filming, the story has moments that take flight and soar. Characters for this story and the setting never really jumped off the page for me: while the read was pleasant and light, the need to know more, and the emotional pull from Amelia and Phillip and their own personal journeys was hampered by the narrative voice: removed third person with far more tell than show. I never was able to dive into the story and imagine the setting, the scenery or even get a solid fix on the emotions that would have brought this story to light. The solid oomph moments for me came solely from the ‘letters’ from Audrey: written in first person, descriptive, emotional and engaging, I often found myself reading from letter to letter rather than enjoying the journey along the way. Hughes can write description and conversation, and she has a wonderful presentation style with the inset of the letters, I just wanted more from the story overall. More emotion, more empathy for the characters, more of a sense of Rome and the twisted and windy streets, the smells, the noise and even the flavor of the city. It was muted and halted with the narration that relied on retelling without emotional complexity and flattening the vibrancy that I know exists in the city and was hinted at in the early moments of this story. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
This is a tale that is funny, warm-hearted, captivating, and has all the exuberance that you would expect from an author who has repeatedly published mesmerizing stories. With this tale, Audrey Hepburn comes alive (not literally, of course, but it’s just as fun). It is present day and Amelia Tate has taken over the ‘must-see’ chick category when it comes to the entertainment industry. In fact, she is cast to step into the hard-to-fill shoes of Audrey Hepburn for a remake of the classic and beloved, Roman Holiday. Now, this is even more awe-inspiring for Amelia, as Hepburn is her absolute idol. (And, let’s face it, having a vacation in Rome with your hot boyfriend while filming is a definite plus, as well.) So Tate heads to Rome with basically the perfect life. Once there, she meets up with a girl named Sophie. As a team, increasing their friendship day by day, they take in the sights and sounds that Rome has to offer (which is a long list). Yes, all is well, until...the girl who was madly in love starts to see that being in love AND having a career that is off the charts is not something the love of her life can deal with. So, he checks out, leaving Amelia to struggle over what she wants most out of life. Who can she turn to for help? Audrey Hepburn, of course. The young actress just happens to stumble over some old letters written by Audrey while she was in Rome, as well as stumbling over a new man - a journalist by the name of Philip. Amelia finds herself falling for the guy (and taking some of Hepburn’s advice along the way). Only trouble is, Philip thinks she’s someone else and Amelia can’t seem to figure out when to tell him the truth...or even if she should. Love, fun, romance, this one’s got it all. And, quite frankly, readers will get lost in the beauty of Rome, and their stomachs will growl while sitting in their living rooms imagining the luscious food and wine they could be enjoying in The Eternal City. Quill says: An enchanting tale that will make one and all want to run out and get their passports so they can somehow flee to Rome immediately!
Dizneeee More than 1 year ago
*I received a copy from the publisher for an honest review* Amelia is a rising Hollywood starlet. She's is in Rome to film a remake of one of the best movies of all time: Roman Holiday. At the beginning of the story, we meet Amelia. She snuck out of a party in a maid's outfit from the hotel where she is a guest. While out and roaming the streets, she discovers that she's quite tipsy from the party and has no purse or money with her. She meets Philip, a man who saved her from the rain, and shares a taxi with her. The next morning, we meet a mysterious girl. She gets injured and Amelia goes along with her to the doctor to make sure she's okay. After meeting these two people, Amelia's world becomes topsy-turvy! She finds a true friend in the mysterious Sophie and finds romance with Philip, the reporter who pretends to not know who Amelia is and why she's in Rome. One day, while in her suite at the hotel, Amelia discovers letters taped to the inside of a desk. When she begins to read them, she realizes they're letters written by Audrey Hepburn! Through the letters, we find many parallels between Amelia and Audrey Hepburn. They were both beautiful ladies who were engaged to somewhat pushy and bossy men. Each of them ended their relationships while in Rome, while filming. Both women found strength and freedom. Rome is magical! I need to go to Rome! I absolutely love stories that are so detailed with the setting that I feel as if I'm IN the story. While reading Rome in Love, I could picture myself sitting at a cafe near a beautiful fountain, enjoying a plate full of pasta with a glass of wine. I also love stories with happy endings. I especially love when it's a happy ending because the women in the story do what they want to do -- without regret. The question posed in the summary, "Can Amelia and Sophie finally have both the life and love they've always wanted -- or will they be forced to choose?" will definitely be at the forefront of your mind as you enjoy the ride through this lovely story to find out their fates. If you enjoy stories about strong-willed women finding love while in romantic, foreign cities, this book will be a great read for you! If you've read Love, Lucy by April Lindner, you will definitely love Rome in Love!