When Ruthie Knox announced that she would be following up the serialization of her upcoming novel “Truly” on Wattpad with a truly serialized novel I was intimidated by the commitment. I used to read dozens of serialized stories a month when I was reading comic books regularly instead of romance novels. But as grew to know myself as reader I started letting those comics books pile up till I had 6 or more and read them all in one shot. In my Romance and YA reading I am resolutely a binge reader. I like to read books in sizable chunks that give me chance to just lose myself in a story, so I decided to “trade-wait” Roman Holiday to borrow a term from the comic book world, and I am glad I did. While the story was structure to be read in four to seven chapter chunks, with their own distinct story-arcs, I was happy that I could read one chunk after another.
In “Roman Holiday” Ashley Bowman torn by grief and betrayal, impulsively chains herself to a palm tree on her late-grandmother’s former Florida Key beach-front apartments, to stop Roman Diaz’s bulldozers from flattening them to the ground. To Roman, Ashley is first an inconvenience, an unscheduled delay, an irritation to be dealt with. But from her vulnerable exposed position Ashley is able to bluff her way into power position.
“She threw him a smile that showed small uneven teeth. He imagined two rows of them sharp and deadly as a shark’s.”
Ashley and Roman hate and fear each other, and initially I didn’t like either of them very much, because we see them as they see each other and every description is tinged with their aggressive negativity. But this love story, is not a simple story of overcoming first impressions, because in truth Ashley and Roman see each other more clearly than they see themselves. It is a story of self-acceptance, and not defining yourself by what others want to see in you.
Ashley ends up blackmailing Roman into postponing the planned demolition, and embarking on improvised road trip to introduce him to the winter residents of Sunnyvale and convince him of the value of saving her childhood refuge. Nothing is straightforward as Ashley has to confront her grief, and the complicated motivations and personalities of her friends, while all the while poking at Roman trying to crack his untouchable plasticized shell of perfection. Ruthie inserts a great deal of humor, even slapstick into their interactions. While Roman might be dripping in dignity, Ashley has none.
“She smiled. She loved dragging him down to her level. There was something subversively hot about flustering a man who tried so hard not to be flusterable.
This story took me places I didn’t expect, going beyond its enemies-to-lovers structure, to address questions of identity, family legacy, forgiveness, reconciliation and belonging.
It is a long road to travel, and a couple of detours didn’t work for me as well as others but in the end I was deeply satisfied with Ruthie’s story. I also admired the way she was able to slowly reveal Roman’s back-story.
4.5 out of 5 Stars for Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventures (2 Book Bundle).
A review copy of Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventures was provided by Random House: Loveswept via NetGalley for review purposes.