Romantic comedies that take place in foreign (to me) destinations are among my favorite types of stories to read. When I heard about the collaborative effort between new author Nina Bocci and successful well established author Alice Clayton I was definitely on board. Roman Crazy is the first in the Broads Abroad series (and even those titles give an indication that they will be humorous affairs). With a setting like Rome and a swoon-worthy Italian hero, the story delivers a sexy and fun romance, as promised.
After catching her husband, Daniel, in flagrante with his assistant, Avery is finally ready to admit that her marriage isn’t working. Filing for divorce, she needs some time and distance from her society lifestyle and family. Her friend Daisy, who lives in Rome, has always wanted her to visit and Avery takes her up on that offer to ponder her new and uncertain future. A week, a month – there is no end date in sight. Her future collides with her past when one of Daisy’s co-workers is none other than Marcello, a handsome Italian architect with whom Avery had an affair during a college semester in Spain where they were both students. Their surprise encounter at a welcome party for her is met with guilt on her part and anger on his, as she’d gone back home without a goodbye. Finally having the chance to apologize, they form an uneasy truce, one that quickly morphs back into the easy friendship they used to have, and then back to the bedroom where they’d never had any problem agreeing. But while Marcello’s life is firmly set in Rome, Avery’s is not. Is she destined to leave Marcello again and return to the US or will she choose to follow her heart?
If a city can be a character in a novel, then Rome gets top billing here. The city comes alive in this story, with its cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, and vibrant atmosphere. I love when a story can immerse you in its setting and it’s done wonderfully here. There are numerous descriptions of the cuisine and the daily lifestyle of the roman residents and this is exactly what I was hoping for when I read the synopsis. The story also takes some beautiful side trips into the countryside, both to Lake Como and to Marcello’s home town of Pienza. You’ll definitely want to put Italy on your bucket list after reading this.
Avery is well deserving of this Roman holiday. But she’s not without her faults – the big one being that she’s guilty of infidelity too. She had been dating Daniel for a year before going off to school in Spain and having an affair with Marcello. Out of sight, out of mind was her motto at that time and escaping from the strictures of her high-society lifestyle and its expectations gave her the freedom to explore while ignoring her conscience. She never told anyone about the affair, including her friend Daisy. When she returned to the US she was fully intending on breaking things off with Daniel and seeing where the future might lie with Marcello but once back home her time abroad seemed more like a fantasy and she was sharply brought back to reality with a loving boyfriend and expectant families. She abandoned any plans to return to Marcello and stopped contacting him without an explanation. She’d never told him she had a boyfriend back home so what could she say really? For my own sense of ethics, I wish that Daniel and Avery had been ‘on a break’ when she went to Spain for her semester abroad. To her credit though, she does realize that he’s not the only guilty party in their marriage, even if her indiscretion happened before they were married. And though it seems to be taken lightly at first, it does take on more significance later in the story.
What is fun to see is that Avery is re-discovering her artistic muse. She’d been studying fine arts when she first met Marcello, with dreams of working in her own gallery. Instead, she’d quickly found herself immersed in the daily grind of being a wife to a workaholic attorney. Let loose and free to pick up her pencils once again, she finds herself slowly drawn back into the life she loved, never without a sketch pad and an eye for what can be put on paper. As luck would have it, the project Daisy is working on requires some restoration work and Avery is able to volunteer, putting her dusty school coursework skills back to work. It’s a step towards reclaiming the dreams she once had.
And Marcello – well, what can you say about a sexy, Italian man other than the obvious? He’s gorgeous for sure, though not a fool. Avery broke his heart once, and he never stopped loving her but he’s not going to let her run roughshod over him this time. He’s a bit more guarded now, this mature man who has changed in subtle ways from the younger version she once knew. But he’s no less appealing. Marcello has everything going for him – looks, a successful job as an architect, a strong family connection and a love of his country, for his home town of Pienza and the city of Rome where he now lives. Honestly, I can’t find any fault with him. The sexual tension between him and Avery grows with each meeting until he sweeps her off her feet once again. Their love scenes are steamy and seductive.
As the story moves from one scenic setting to the next, the romance builds, but so does the tension of the need to confront the truth about what happened between them the first time around. There comes a point in the story where the decisions Avery made in the past and the ones she must make in the present come full circle. Roman Crazy is a delightful sexy modern romance in an incomparable setting and I await the next in the series with my suitcase already packed.