From the publisher:

To celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Grace has planned the surprise of a lifetime for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But she never expected he’d have a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone.

Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely…until she meets Grace, and everything changes.

Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious newly single Grace is. Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Sarah Morgan is a prolific romance writer and her “From Manhattan with Love” series is one of my favorites.  A few years ago, she shifted from writing romance to women’s fiction.  One Summer in Paris has been gathering virtual dust on my Kindle for about a year now.  As I’ve been trying to clear out the ever-growing number of to-be-read titles on my Kindle it was time to finally go for it.  This is a somewhat tricky review to approach.  On a surface level, I enjoyed reading One Summer in Paris, it is a quick read, the descriptions of Paris and its food are of course charming, but in the end, the book as a whole didn’t sit well with me.  The main highlight of the book is the unexpected friendship that grows between Grace and Audrey as they work together in a quaint bookshop.

After her husband’s devastating betrayal Grace has been struggling with feeling useless and learning how to navigate her life without her husband at her side.  Audrey, on the other hand, has already had to be more independent than any teenager should.  She has practically raised herself while dealing with a severe learning disability, while her mom struggles with alcoholism and is often neglectful if not downright abusive.  Seeing these two women from vastly different backgrounds support and learn from each other was the best part of the book.  Each of them begins to overcome their fears and gain confidence, while of course finding a little romance.  Then, however, things begin to take a turn plot-wise, all working towards an ending that feels a little forced and not earned.  A storyline involving Grace’s beloved grandmother, Mimi, in particular, feels like an afterthought and was not well developed.  Most important though, I feel that in Morgan’s desire to give her characters happy endings, Grace and Audrey never get to fully reflect on the trauma and difficulties they have experienced and how they have changed as a result.  As a reader this left me with some feelings of frustration by the end of the book.

While One Summer in Paris is packed with beautiful descriptions of Paris, its art, architecture, and food, even the complex friendship between Grace and Audrey wasn’t enough to keep me from feeling that this book still lacked something when it came to actual substance and character growth.

ONE SUMMER IN PARIS by Sarah Morgan. HQN Books (April 9, 2019). ISBN  9781335507549. 400 p.

1/2020 Caitlin Brisson




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