‘When In Rome’ by Sarah Adams Review: Heartwarming and Full of Longing

Cover of The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams
©Sarah Adams | Dell, an Imprint of Random House

If, like me, your comfort film is Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, then When In Rome by Sarah Adams is bound to be one of your favorite romantic comedies of the year. Author of the delightful friends-to-lovers, The Cheat Sheet returns with another hilariously heartwarming romance bound to clench hearts in sheer joy. 

While the novel has a bit of a slower start despite taking place in the span of two weeks, once Adams brings the characters colliding in a means of actively avoiding their feelings When In Rome becomes impossible to put down. And despite how many romance novels I’ve read, at about forty or so pages remaining, I still couldn’t figure out how Adams would end the story, making it that much more unbearable (and extremely delightful at the curtain call). 


For starters, it bears noting that I personally strongly dislike the celebrity/average person trope, and though I don’t detest it the way I do secret pregnancies or love triangles, it’s still a tough one to appreciate often. In the instances when it’s done right, however, like HBO’s Starstruck, it can hit like a pile of bricks while simultaneously feeling organic and believable. And part of the reason Noah Walker and Amelia “Rae” Rose’s story works is that it acknowledges all the odds against them in a fashion that doesn’t feel too on the nose.

Adams tells a relatively implausible story while focusing on a failed paradigm, such as Princess Ann and Joe Bradley’s unfortunate parting. If this were any other genre, I’d wager When In Rome would go in the same direction. (Though, despite the heartbreaking ending, everything about films like Roman Holiday and Moulin Rouge still feel like an achingly beautiful romance. There are exceptions to the happy ending rule, I suppose.) 

Additionally, while Adams is known for telling closed-door romances, she presents the longing and desires in such a satisfying manner that it often feels that much more intimate while reading. The quiet moments of vulnerability between Noah and Amelia made me want to walk straight into a freezer and cry there for a few hours. The second a storm enters the picture, it’s game over from there, and the book is bound to be aces.

When In Rome by Sarah Adams gets plenty right with hilarious banter and intriguing plot twists that add layers to the story and characters. It allows the characters to be messy, a little frustrating at times, and thoroughly surprising at some parts. Further, while falling in love as quickly as they do could be jarring to some readers, Adams, like screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, bring forward the emotions straight from an indescribable place of one-of-a-kind longing. While some stories take longer to develop, love finds others much quicker, and in this situation, it’s effortless to feel like Noah and Amelia are meant to be.

In a nutshell, while the book might not be for everybody, it’s undoubtedly a lovely homage to Roman Holiday—Adams clearly wanted to do right by the film’s beautiful legacy, and she does so pleasantly while making it entirely her own. 

When In Rome by Sarah Adams is now available where books are sold.

Further Recommended Novels: Mixed Signals by B.K. Borison


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