Back when I wrote a recap of Swiss Secrets, the first book in the Passport to Romance trilogy, I did not have this book. Here's hoping I manage to track down book number three!
Nancy, George, and Bess head to Rome on their European adventure to meet up with Claudia, a friend they made in the last book. Claudia immediately introduces them to her friend Massimo, a jewelry designer and huge flirt. He falls all over Bess and offers her one of his new necklaces that looks like an authentic antique as long as she will dance with him at least once while in town. They then head to the shop where Claudia works to see some of his other pieces. They compare Bess's necklace to one of the new ones before she puts it back on.
That night, Massimo asks where she got her new necklace and tells her that if she didn't like his, she didn't have to keep it. Bess says it's the same one as before, but he points out how different it is from his designs. Sandro, Claudia's boyfriend, seems a little shifty. That same day, someone tries to grab Bess's bag and run off with it, but they catch the people in time.
They get the chance to meet Fabio, one of the leading experts in antiquities. He looks over the necklace and offers them 25,000 lira for it. He then warns them about smuggling antiquities out of the country and claims the necklace is the real deal. Nancy makes up a lie about them figuring out what to do and takes off. The only thing they can think is that Bess must have picked up the real necklace at the shop.
Claudia claims her shop doesn't sell antiques but does agree to take them back. They meet her boss, Paola, who seems highly annoyed that they're there. She only agrees to let them look around after they name drop Sandro because she's close friends with his mom. Speaking of Sandro, they go to a party at his house. His mom loves the necklace and talks about how she has one similar in her own collection. When she checks her safe though, the necklace is gone! Since there are no signs of a break in, she decides to let Nancy handle it instead of the police.
At a dance club, we meet Karine, a friend of Massimo. She brags about how she was with him the night before and keeps dropping hints about them dating while shooting daggers at Bess. There's also a comment about how he plans on making her a necklace with beads to match her eyes because she's so special to him, not knowing that he said the exact same thing to Bess the night he met her.
Nancy starts feeling weird while at the club. Sandro tries to convince her to let him take her home, but she runs to the bathroom instead. She wakes up to Bess looking over her after finding her passed out on the bathroom floor. Ew. Sandro still wants to take her to the hospital, but she just wants to go back to her hotel. Nancy tells Bess that she thinks someone drugged her in an attempt to get the necklace out of her bag.
Someone breaks into their hotel room twice. The first time is just to leave a threatening note. The second time is to leave a note with a gargoyle replica, which makes them suspect Massimo. All the woman at the front desk can tell them is that the only people who can get inside the hotel are guests. She remembers someone new checking in, and her description matches Massimo. When they go to his room though, it's completely empty and unused.
A few more pieces of jewelry go missing, so Nancy sets up a sting. Fabio plans a huge party and tells everyone that it's to show off a new antique piece he found. He invites her friends and those on her suspect list to attend. After the party, Nancy goes to the hotel room where Fabio told everyone he would store the necklace. Someone sneaks inside and gets the necklace, but when she goes after him, he knocks her down. She runs outside just in time to see the robber take off on a moped.
Big news comes for Nancy. If you read the last book, she met a cute guy named Mick and instantly cheated on Ned with him. Claudia arranges for him to come to town as a surprise, and they pick up right where they left off. Taking a page from the Ned Nickerson playbook, he even offers to jump right in and help her with the case. Meanwhile, Claudia acts really shifty and is so not her usual self.
Claudia finally comes to Nancy with some big news, way bigger than Mick. She shows her a moped, which is the same one the robber used, and it belongs to Sandro. Claudia admits that she thought it was him for awhile now. Sandro admits to stealing not only his mom's necklace but all the other jewelry. He wanted to open his own computer business but didn't want to ask his parents for help, so he stole his mother's necklace to pawn it. Oh, it's totally okay though because he thought he could get it out of the pawn shop without his mom knowing.
Instead, he asked Paola for help finding a good pawn shop. She instead offered to give him a loan on it, but she then took the necklace and demanded that he steal more for her or she would go to the cops. With Mick's help and Sandro's help, Nancy thinks she can catch her in the act.
After following her around for hours, they see her go towards some artists, where she keeps stopping to see what Karine is drawing. Karine tells Nancy that her dad calls her every morning and tells her what to draw, which she doesn't find odd at all. Nancy puts it together that Karine's dad, who is conveniently an importer and exporter, is on the thefts. It probably helps when she actually sees the two of them together.
Since this book was kind of lame, I'm just going to sum things up. They use Karine to set up Paola. Karine draws something completely different from what her dad asked her to draw, which causes Paola to go to the wrong place. They manage to capture the importer exporter dad, but Paola almost gets away until Sandro comes out of nowhere and tackles her.
Nancy reveals that they let Sandro out on bail and that his mom got her necklace back because Paola couldn't bring herself to sell a friend's necklace. The cops let him out on bail, and if they can find the two still missing pieces, he'll probably get off on probation. Bess tells everyone that she is done with both shopping and romances from here on out. Mick packs his bags to take off with them, explaining that he let Nancy leave him once before and won't let it happen again. That might be sweet if she didn't have a boyfriend waiting for her back home. Mick then asks if she's done with romance too, Nancy smirks at him and tells him she's okay with just one more, and they kiss. Gr.
*Fabio offers them the equivalent of a little under $7,000 for the necklace. Is it bad that I would probably sell it?
*The girls all ride around town on mopeds, which I think is awesome. It does make me wonder though if you can really pick up riding one so fast.
*If you noticed that I hardly mentioned George, it's because she's never there. She makes friends with a bunch of thrill seekers who want to head to Greece. Since they weren't planning on going to Greece for at least a week, George decides to go ahead with them. Yes, she literally leaves for a foreign country with complete strangers and no one says a word or finds it odd. I see a horror movie in her future...
*Nancy spends an entire chapter chasing Fabio all over Rome because she sees Paola give him a package and assumes he's in on the thefts. It turns out to just be a belt she gave him from her shop.
*You have to feel bad for Karine when she realizes that she's in love with a guy who can't handle being with one woman at a time and that she helped put her dad behind bars.
*Nancy very briefly mentions Ned and says that they're going through a difficult time right now. Well, maybe if you stopped cheating on him every time you left the state, things might be a little easier.
*You might notice a sudden increase in Nancy Drew books over the next few weeks/months. My best friend and I were at a thrift store that had Nancy Drew books for 49 cents. I had no clue which ones I owned, so I just bought them all, and I'm trying to recap as many as I can before they go missing like all my other books. I seriously spent $27 on Nancy Drew, Unicorn Club, Sweet Valley Kids, and a few Point Horror/Thriller books. :)