Bastien Ley is a German-born American Army captain aiding Italian resistance fighters in late fall 1943 when a dangerous opportunity presents itself: assume the identity of one Adalard Dietrich, a captain in the German army bound for Rome. Not one to back down from a challenge, Bastien assumes the identity in hopes of helping end the war before his little brother is called into action. Bastien is on his own, but not for long.
Graziella Begni, or Gracie, an Italian-born American Office of Strategic Services radio operator from Utah and a Brigham Young University graduate, is assigned to assist Bastien in Rome by transmitting the information he gleans as Hauptmann Dietrich (Hauptmann is German for captain). This development is not something that Bastien is particularly happy about. Unsure about Gracie's ability as a radio operator and fearing that she will be a liability, Bastien unsuccessfully argues against their partnership.
Gracie, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assumes the name Concetta, and the two spies set off for Rome under the guise of romance. It isn't difficult for Bastien to pretend to be attracted to the beautiful Italian girl with a distinctive birthmark on her cheek, but the work to be done is more important than any romantic feelings that may develop between the two — at least at first.
"Adalard" and "Concetta" establish contacts and transmit important information to the Allies in hopes of helping them break through the Gustav line, all the while sharing personal stories and dangerous experiences that bring the two closer together. As danger grows, so does romance. However, war is a difficult setting for romance to blossom.
"The Rules in Rome" is an interesting look at World War II history. Both male and female radio operators played an important role in ending the war and, through Gracie/Concetta, Sowards gives readers a look at what life was like for a radio operator living behind enemy lines.
"The Rules in Rome" includes no swearing, the romance doesn't go beyond kissing and there are a few generally described gun fights.
Sowards writes suspenseful historical fiction based in WWII with a clean romance thrown in. She was born in Georgia, grew up in Washington and lives in Utah.
Christine Sedlacek has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Utah. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has appeared in the Deseret News, Davis County Clipper and KSL.com.