Wilson's hard-cover debut: the gritty if improbably romantic tale, set mostly in Paris before and during the Second World War, of a beautiful young American woman, Leonie Byron. Early in her life with her rather eccentric mother Zoe, Leonie realizes that she's illegitimate--and shortly after her 17th birthday, she decides to leave New York for Paris to track down her father. He is Paul de Byron, an aristocratic career military man, owner Of a chateau in the Pyrenees, a widower with one daughter he's raising with a strict hand--and completely unaware of Leonie's existence. But when she shows up on his doorstep, he is reminded of a woman he once loved a very long time ago, and he accepts her into the family, mortgaging the chateau to give her a proper French education. Meanwhile, mother Zoo has moved to Paris, with a Swiss beau to whom Leonie takes an instant dislike, to start up a cosmetics line (called Caresse), and Leonie reluctantly agrees to become the line's model in order to earn money to pay back her father's debts. When war breaks out, Capitaine de Byron goes off to fight (and is killed in battle), Leonie's half-sister escapes to Canada, and Leonie becomes mistress of the chateau. Survival becomes the name of the game, and how Leonie manages--from Resistance training in England to killing a German spy barehanded to arrest, torture, and imprisonment at Ravensbruck--makes for harrowing reading with a romantic touch. For those who like their heroines strong and beautiful, their wartime detail convincing, and their Franco-American settings impossibly exotic, this one delivers few false notes and rarely a dull moment.