Practice Makes Perfect Summary, Characters and Themes

“Practice Makes Perfect” is a romance novel by Sarah Adams, published in 2023. It is the second book in her “When in Rome” series. The story revolves around Annie Walker, a small-town florist living in Rome, Kentucky, who is trying to find her perfect match.

The book has been described as a heartwarming and humorous read, filled with relatable characters and charming small-town settings. It explores themes of love, self-discovery, and the importance of community.


Annie Walker, a florist in small-town Rome, Kentucky, yearns for a perfect marriage to fill a void in her life. On a disastrous first date, she’s labeled “boring” by her date, a scene witnessed by Will, the bodyguard of her brother’s fiancé, pop star Amelia Rae Rose. Will, known for his aversion to commitment, is intrigued by Annie.

Amelia, aiming to help Annie, suggests Will become her dating coach. Despite his reservations, Will accepts, intrigued by Annie and borrowing her historical romance novel. 

They start secret “lessons” at Will’s inn, focusing on seduction and confidence. Their connection deepens, but Will, haunted by his troubled past, tries to maintain distance.

While Will is away with Amelia, their connection grows through texts. Upon his return, a jealous Annie kisses him publicly. Will, misunderstanding her intentions, distances himself further. 

He reveals his past and fears of commitment, causing Annie to question their future.

Annie goes on a date with a new man in town, but it’s sabotaged by Will’s jealousy. After realizing her feelings for Will, she opens up to her family about her struggles and confronts their hurtful jokes about her innocence.

An incident with a fan injures Will, leading Annie to care for him. Their bond deepens, and they finally consummate their relationship. They face the town’s disapproval together, but the community ultimately supports them.

Will’s impending departure looms over their newfound happiness. However, Will surprises Annie by “kidnapping” her after her brother’s wedding, revealing he’s quit his job, bought a house in Rome, and plans to stay with her. 

Will proposes, but Annie, respecting his fears, suggests starting as girlfriend and boyfriend, embracing adventures together before committing to marriage.

Practice Makes Perfect Summary


Annie Walker

Annie Walker is a compassionate and selfless woman who runs a successful flower shop in Rome, Kentucky.

Having spent much of her life caring for others, particularly in the wake of her mother’s death, Annie is accustomed to putting her needs last. Despite her nurturing nature, she feels a void in her life, believing that finding a perfect husband and creating a stable marriage will fill it. 

Her character is marked by a mixture of innocence and determination, as evidenced by her decision to seek dating advice from Will Griffin to improve her romantic prospects. 

Annie’s journey is one of self-discovery, as she learns to stand up for herself, express her desires, and challenge the “Angel Annie” persona that her family has imposed on her. 

Her interactions with Will reveal her capacity for deep emotion and passion, contrasting with her initial portrayal as meek and overly accommodating.

Will Griffin

Will Griffin is a complex character defined by his tough exterior and underlying vulnerability. 

As a bodyguard for pop star Amelia Rae Rose, Will is accustomed to a life of adventure and short-term flings, avoiding long-term commitments due to his traumatic childhood marked by unfaithful parents and a dysfunctional family life. 

Despite his gruff demeanor, Will is deeply attracted to Annie and is protective of her, which becomes apparent when he steps in to offer her dating advice. His interactions with Annie gradually peel back his layers of emotional armor, revealing a man who is capable of love but fearful of it. 

Will’s development is a gradual shift from a commitment-averse individual to someone willing to consider a stable, loving relationship. 

His jealousy, protectiveness, and eventual decision to stay in Rome signify his profound transformation and growing attachment to Annie.

Amelia Rae Rose

Amelia Rae Rose is a successful pop star and the fiancée of Annie’s older brother, Noah. Her character serves as a catalyst in the story, facilitating the relationship between Annie and Will. 

Amelia is perceptive and caring, understanding Annie’s romantic struggles and orchestrating the idea of Will as Annie’s dating coach. She embodies a supportive sister-in-law, balancing her glamorous life with genuine concern for those around her.

Amelia’s presence brings an element of celebrity into the small-town setting, highlighting the contrast between her high-profile life and Annie’s more modest existence. 

Her impending wedding to Noah adds pressure and urgency to the interactions between Annie and Will, pushing them to confront their feelings.

Noah Walker

Noah Walker, Annie’s older brother, is engaged to Amelia Rae Rose. 

As a character, Noah is protective of Annie, which sometimes translates into treating her as overly innocent and incapable of making her own decisions. 

His relationship with Amelia serves as a backdrop to the main romantic plot, providing a counterpoint to Annie and Will’s developing relationship. 

Noah’s character is less explored in depth but serves to illustrate the family dynamics that Annie navigates. 

His protectiveness and occasional insensitivity highlight Annie’s struggle to assert her independence and be seen as a capable adult.

Ethan Griffin

Ethan Griffin is Will’s younger brother, whose engagement to his girlfriend, Hannah, sparks a significant reaction in Will. Unlike Will, Ethan believes in love and commitment, serving as a foil to Will’s cynicism. 

Ethan’s relationship with Will provides insight into Will’s background and the familial influences that shaped his views on relationships. Ethan’s advice to Will to follow his heart is pivotal, encouraging Will to reconsider his stance on love and relationships. 

Through Ethan, readers gain a deeper understanding of Will’s internal conflicts and eventual growth.

Emily and Madison Walker

Emily and Madison Walker are Annie’s sisters who contribute to the familial dynamic and the perception of Annie as “Angel Annie.” 

They participate in light-hearted teasing but also play a role in the supportive yet occasionally stifling family environment that Annie seeks to break free from. 

Their interactions with Annie reflect typical sibling relationships, marked by both love and exasperation. 

Emily and Madison’s characters help flesh out the Walker family’s role in the story, illustrating the pressures and expectations Annie faces from those closest to her.

Brandon Larsdale

Brandon Larsdale is a newcomer to Rome who asks Annie on a date, briefly presenting a potential romantic interest. 

His character is polite and amiable, embodying the qualities of a safe and traditional choice for Annie. 

However, his role in the story mainly serves to highlight the depth of Annie’s feelings for Will and to create a moment of jealousy and realization for Will. 

Brandon’s interactions with Annie help propel her growth as she navigates her feelings and ultimately realizes that her connection with Will is far more profound and passionate.


Mabel is the owner of the inn where Will stays and serves as a maternal figure and confidant to Annie. 

Her encouragement and advice are pivotal in Annie’s journey towards self-realization and independence. Mabel’s character provides a grounding presence, offering wisdom and support to Annie as she grapples with her emotions and family dynamics. 

She embodies the nurturing aspect of the small-town community, reinforcing the themes of support and understanding that permeate the novel.


John is Annie’s ill-fated date at the beginning of the novel, whose dismissive behavior sparks Annie’s determination to improve her dating skills. 

His brief but impactful role sets the stage for the central conflict of Annie’s perceived dullness and her subsequent quest for self-improvement. 

John’s character serves as a catalyst for the events that follow, underscoring the challenges Annie faces in the dating world and motivating her to seek Will’s guidance.


Self-Discovery and Personal Growth

“Practice Makes Perfect” delves deeply into the theme of self-discovery and personal growth through its protagonists, Annie and Will. 

Annie’s journey begins with a sense of inadequacy and a need to prove herself after being labeled as boring and dull. This criticism sparks a quest for personal transformation, leading her to seek Will’s help in becoming more confident and adventurous. 

Throughout the novel, Annie learns to embrace her true self, shedding the expectations and judgments of others. Her decision to get a tattoo and stand up to her siblings about their hurtful jokes marks significant milestones in her path to self-empowerment. 

Similarly, Will’s character undergoes substantial growth. 

Initially depicted as a commitment-phobic bodyguard with a cynical view of love due to his dysfunctional family background, Will learns to confront his fears and reconsider his stance on relationships. 

His interactions with Annie reveal his vulnerabilities and desire for a deeper connection, ultimately leading him to quit his job and stay in Rome to pursue a more meaningful life. 

Both characters’ arcs highlight the importance of self-discovery as a precursor to forming healthy, fulfilling relationships.

The Complexity of Love and Relationships

The novel explores the complexities of love and relationships, challenging traditional notions and expectations. 

Annie’s initial belief that a perfect marriage will fill the void in her life is tested through her interactions with Will. Their relationship starts as a pragmatic arrangement for dating coaching but evolves into a profound emotional connection. 

The story emphasizes that love is not about fitting into societal molds or fulfilling preconceived roles but about genuine understanding and acceptance of each other’s flaws and strengths. 

Will’s journey from a skeptic of lasting love to someone willing to stay in a small town and build a life with Annie underscores the transformative power of love. 

The novel also tackles the challenges of relationships within families and communities, as seen in Annie’s struggles with her siblings’ perceptions and the town’s interference in her personal life. 

By navigating these complexities, the characters demonstrate that real love requires patience, compromise, and a willingness to grow together.

Breaking Free from Stereotypes and Expectations

“Practice Makes Perfect” addresses the theme of breaking free from stereotypes and societal expectations. 

Annie is initially confined by the “Angel Annie” stereotype, which portrays her as sweet and innocent but ultimately limits her potential. Her journey towards self-assertion involves rejecting this limiting label and embracing a more authentic and multifaceted identity. 

Will, on the other hand, grapples with the expectations imposed by his job and his family’s dysfunctional history. His transformation involves rejecting the playboy stereotype and confronting his fears of commitment. 

The novel also critiques the societal pressures placed on individuals to conform to certain roles, particularly in the context of small-town life. 

Annie’s determination to prove her worth beyond being a caretaker and Will’s decision to prioritize personal happiness over a high-profile career reflect a broader commentary on the importance of self-definition.

Through their respective journeys, the characters illustrate the liberating power of rejecting stereotypes and expectations to lead more fulfilling lives.