Bettina Biondi teaches history of religion at a women’s college in New England and likes to spend her summers in Rome working by day and partying by night with her old college flame, the art historian Oscar Bradley. Oscar likes to get away to Rome so he can be himself at both work and play. But he’s never gotten over Bettina and gladly puts her up in his Roman digs.
But when Bettina and Oscar run into the tall, dark and very handsome Charles D’Anne on their way home from a party one night, all their comfortable lives begin to unfold in very unpredictable ways.
Can Charles stay with them for a few days? Can he treat Bettina to some of his favorite Roman secrets in return? It soon turns out that Charles is not the wealthy businessman he says he is, playing hooky from a dull convention, but a leading prince of the Roman Church — in fact, just elected the new pope — and on the run from his Vatican colleagues and handlers, men who will stop at virtually nothing to keep their secrets safe and their power secure.
So begins a charade by day and by night that brings the threesome through some of Rome’s most romantic landscapes as they savor the glorious light, the sparkling fountains and the wonderful food and monuments of the Eternal City. As they talk about their favorite movies and art, about politics and religion, about men, women and sex, and about their past loves and present lives, they begin to reveal their own secrets and set out on an adventure that will leave them changed forever.
International author René Vieuxvin combines the romance of the film Roman Holiday with a (serious) send-up of papal politics and policy that predicts many of the new turns in an age-old Church.