Sweet as Apple Pie: Reviewing When in Rome by Sarah Adams

by Theja Pk
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kindle showing when in Rome by Sarah adams laying on top of blue jeans

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Last updated on May 18th, 2024

In this review, we’re going to look When in Rome by Sarah Adams – a heartwarming and adorable romance between Noah, a local grumpy pie baker, and Amelia, a famous pop star who needs a break from her overwhelming career.

This modern story is a take on the classic movie, Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn.

This book felt like a giant, warm hug. I was so disappointed when it ended because I wanted more of Noah, Amelia, and all the charming townspeople.

Even though this is the first book in the When in Rome series, I read it after reading its sequel – Practice Makes Perfect – and I must admit, this one is definitely my favorite.

So if you’re worried about reading this series in order, you don’t need to. I read it out of order and I didn’t mind one bit. Also there aren’t huge spoilers in book 2 to ruin the first book.

When In Rome – Sarah Adams

5 out of 5
illustrated book cover of when in Rome by Sarah adams showing a couple baking pies in a store

GENRE: Contemporary romance
PUB DATE: September 20, 2022
TROPE: grumpy/sunshine, forced proximity

This book feels like a warm hug. If you want an adorable, tenderhearted romance between a grumpy baker and a famous pop star, then add this one to your TBR.

5 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Overall Enjoyment
5 out of 5
Table of contents


Amelia Rose, known as Rae Rose to her adoring fans, is burned-out from years of maintaining her “princess of pop” image. Inspired by her favorite Audrey Hepburn film, Roman Holiday, she drives off in the middle of the night for a break in Rome . . . Rome, Kentucky, that is. 

When Noah Walker finds Amelia on his front lawn in her broken-down car, he makes it clear he doesn’t have the time or patience for celebrity problems. He’s too busy running the pie shop his grandmother left him and reminding his nosy but lovable neighbors to mind their own damn business.

Despite his better judgment, he lets her stay in his guest room—but only until her car is fixed—then she’s on her own. 

Then Noah starts to see a different side of Rae Rose—she’s Amelia: kindhearted and goofy, yet lonely from years in the public eye. He can’t help but get close to her. Soon she’ll have to return to her glamorous life on tour, but until then, Noah will show Amelia all the charming small-town experiences she’s been missing, and she’ll help him open his heart to more. 

Amelia can’t resist falling for the cozy town and her grumpy tour guide, but even Audrey had to leave Rome eventually.


One of my favorite aspects of the grumpy-sunshine trope is how one character’s grumpiness can make the other one want to taunt them more. Amelia constantly teasing Noah, and Noah secretly enjoying it made for a delightful dynamic and comedic read.

I also appreciated how both characters’ flaws were easily relatable, which made me feel seen in my own imperfections.


Underneath all the scowling and serious looks, he’s a respectful and thoughtful person. Due to a previously failed engagement, he tries to keep his distance from Amelia but fails miserably.

His attempts to resist his attraction for her were so funny because it was so obvious how much he liked her. And the moments when we get to see his vulnerability as he gives in to his feelings for Amelia melted my heart.

“To me, you’re Amelia. Maker of shitty pancakes and a smile that rivals the sun. All I want is you.”

I also liked his relationship with his younger sisters. They teased him a lot, but he chose to take it in stride, even though he had enough dirt on them to shut them up. 


I related to her struggles to keep everyone in her life happy at the expense of herself. Sarah Adams did a good job showing the human side of fame, including the emotional struggles we don’t see in the media and the guilt that comes with feeling unhappy when you’re famous and successful.

I loved Amelia’s journey to finding her voice and taking back control of her life. I was rooting for her the whole way that when the final conflict happened, I wanted to give her a high-five! 

Side Characters

MABLE is like a second grandmother to Noah and is the underrated MVP in this story. The way she meddles to get Noah and Amelia together is so obvious that it’s downright hilarious. I looked forward to her scenes just for the laughs.

In typical small-town fashion, the quirky TOWNSPEOPLE add an extra layer of depth to the story. They might be the nosiest people you’ll ever meet, but they look out for each other when needed.

The scene where they help Amelia escape the paparazzi was so sweet, and it reminded me of the people of Walkon in Part Of Your World and how the townsfolk took care of the pregnant resident when she needed it. 

I adore JAMES, Noah’s best friend. I re-read his dialogues over and over because the way he teases Noah about his feelings for Amelia and gives him a slap upside the head when he needs it is hilarious. Their bromance was on point, and I look forward to reading James’ book. 


The slow burn was marvelously done. The pacing was just right for the intense emotions and sexual tension between the characters, making their relationship’s progression feel natural.

And just when you think they will confess their feelings, something gets in the way. These will-they-won’t-they moments kept me glued to the pages!

There was a great balance of sweet, tender moments with closed-door scenes. Although I prefer open-door romances, keeping it closed-door added extra emphasis on their emotional connection. And while in Will and Annie’s story, the fade to black intimacy scenes was underwhelming, in this one, it never minimized the emotional impact of Noah and Amelia’s story. 

There was no third act break up or miscommunication driving the plot, which I loved. Even though I saw the conflict coming, it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of reading it. 


I enjoyed the writing in When in Rome more than in its follow up, Practice Makes Perfect. Both had dual POVs, which I love for the deeper dive into each character. However, book 2 had too much melodrama and over-the-top metaphors for my taste.

Annie’s overdramatic dialogue and inner monologues almost made me DNF the book. Thankfully, When in Rome had less of that. The southern lingo added to the book’s charm and made me feel like I was in Kentucky.

It was just the right amount to add flavor to the story without making it hard to understand for someone who is not from the South.


Reading When in Rome makes you feel like you’re snuggled up in your comfiest PJs, enjoying a slice of warm apple pie. It’s an irresistibly charming and entertaining story that will warm your heart.

One of my favorite reads this year, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cozy, small-town romance.

Enjoyed this review? Then, add ‘When In Rome’ to your TBR. And if you have already read this book and have some thoughts to share, drop them in the comments below. I would love to hear them!

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