For a light read about love, self-discovery, and Paris, for a romance I can cheer for, for heartwarming characters who you can’t help but smile at
Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris? Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read! Picturing days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and people-watching on the Champs-Elysees Sarah boards the plane. But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream isn’t quite as rosy in reality…
The beginning of this book didn’t show itself to it’s best advantage for me. Typically an MC, especially a female one, who feels insecure or unworthy is very tiring and frustrating to read. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that first half of the book mostly filled with self-derogatory remarks and pity and angst. I get that happens to everyone, but in books it’s always amplified to a somewhat intolerable level.
If you can get past that, the second half picks up significantly once Sarah stops moaning about her life and starts living it. More threads of plot are woven in the latter half to bring in other characters we come to care about. They are made into more than just a background, but they are still fairly one-dimensional. The sparkle in the book is on the main couple and her closest friend or two.
I very much appreciated the way the romance of the MC was handled, and felt that it defied many of the norms we see in romance novels today. Particularly with established couples, there are tropes and cliches often embraced for them that Raisin cast away shamelessly in her novel. A little bit of defiance went a long way in making this one worth cheering for!
As with many romance stories, there were some moments in the plot that you just have to accept are a little too tidy and conveniently coincidental to be entirely realistic. Roll your eyes a little, let it go, and enjoy the development those moments bring.
Being set in Paris, it is unsurprisingly focused a lot on food and the people, as well as cultural quirks (like stores requiring introductions, secret bakeries, the lot of it!). Paris is one place I have never been, but this seemed to be a good view of it. It certainly lent credence to Sarah’s musings and desires; I really can’t imagine this having taken place anywhere else so effectively.