Review: One Summer in Rome by Samantha Tonge

One Summer in Rome

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To Rome…with love?  Mary Smith is turning her very ordinary life upside-down! She’s bought herself a one-way ticket to Rome and is ready for a summer she’ll never forget.  Men might be off the cards for waitress Mary, but within hours of arriving at the utterly charming family-run La Dolce Vita pizzeria, she’s already fallen in love with the bustling capital!  Only Dante Rossi, the mysterious (and drop-dead gorgeous) chef seems displeased with her arrival. And in the heat of the kitchen, it doesn’t take long for long-buried secrets to surface and sparks to fly…

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Source: Netgalley         My Rating: 4/5 stars

Mary Smith has never done anything adventurous!  Mary Smith has never stood up for herself!  Mary Smith has never allowed herself to be completely vulnerable, open, and honest in a relationship!  Mary Smith is going to change all of that . . . .

Rome seems like the perfect place to turn over a new leaf, to make marked changes in her life, and to finally find happiness.  One, one-way plane ticket and a bit of gumption is exactly what Mary Smith needs to start living the life she has always dreamed of, so when her boyfriend dumps her, and her wretched boss has finally crossed the line, Mary Smith is on her way to a brand-new life. 

Rome is everything Mary hoped it would be from the ancient ruins to the bustling night life to the warm, friendly people.  With a job and living space secured, Mary is ready to carve out a new, fantastic life wholly different from the one she left behind.  Unfortunately, carving takes time and Mary has a lot to learn and sort out in her new world.  Her Italian is only passable, her waitressing skills aren’t quite up to par, and the chef and lead waiter both thoroughly dislike her.  Determined, for the first time in her life, to stand on her own two feet and stand up for herself, Mary dives right in with improving her conversational Italian, she asks questions about improving her waitressing skills, and she makes every effort to be polite and kind to the two men who dislike her most. 

Only some of that effort goes her way . . .

As if happens, Mary isn’t the only one struggling.  The family-owned pizzeria she works for is in the thick of a popularity contest that often determines their income for the next year.  A new pizzeria has opened and is threatening their business.  With nothing but good intentions, Mary sets out to help the family shake things up and get themselves right back in the running of the competition.  With her newfound confidence, Mary delights in offering suggestions, baking new items for the menu, and seeing the fruits of her labor being received favorably by the family and customers alike.  On the personal side, Mary finds herself dreadfully attracted to the chef who dislikes her and feeling complete compassion for the lead waiter who finds himself in a most dangerous situation.  Emotionally, Mary is on something of a roller coaster ride, but it becomes a most liberating experience which allows her to reconcile with the demons of her past and move forward towards a bright future. 

The Bottom Line: As promised, One Summer in Rome is a sweet read that will leave you smiling.  Mary is a kind, generous soul who has had something of a difficult life.  With change on her mind and courage in her heart, Mary leaves all she has ever known for the unknown.  What I particularly liked about this read is the fact that Mary’s new life isn’t a given.  She has struggles to deal with, obstacles to overcome, and very real emotions to manage.  In many ways, stepping into her new life is the best education Mary has ever received.  She learns that being vulnerable isn’t always bad, many people who seem happy on the surface have very real internal struggles of their own, and those who are angry and bitter may be trying, in their own way to reach out and ask for help.  While it may seem as if there is too much happening in this read, it really comes together quite nicely and all the loose are tied up nicely in the end.  What’s more, it isn’t just Mary who finds her HEA, but multiple characters!  In all, this isn’t necessarily a light, easy breezy read, but it is a quick read with engaging characters and just enough drama to keep you interested.  The heat level is relatively low and totally appropriate for the characters and story line.

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