A French perfume heiress with a gift for scent survives the trials and tribulations of World War II, and of love, in this first traditionally published novel from indie author Moran.
Danielle Bretancourt von Hoffman, the daughter of a successful French perfume dynasty, spends most of her days thinking up new perfumes—that is, when she’s not swooning over Jonathan Newell-Grey, handsome shipping magnate and her husband’s close friend. Jon is helping Danielle and her husband, Max, a Polish glass manufacturer, relocate to America in the lead-up to World War II when the announcement comes that Germany has invaded Poland—and trapped Danielle and Max’s son, Nicky, and Max’s mother, Sophia, behind enemy lines. Pursued by the dastardly Heinrich, a boy Sophia fostered but who has fallen in with the Nazis, driven by his unreasonable hatred for the part-Jewish Danielle, Nicky and Sophia go on the run. It’s no surprise when the ship on which Danielle and Max are returning is attacked by the Germans, nor when Heinrich kills Max during a dangerous undercover assignment for the British government, which Max took in order to search for Nicky and his mother. Even with Max conveniently out of the way, however, Danielle and Jon miss a number of opportunities to pursue their mutual passion, interrupted by the war, Jon’s hasty engagement to an English socialite and Danielle’s ill-advised marriage to a Hollywood star. Her development of a new “intoxicating” perfume with “the mystery of amber to balance the soul; the silky smoothness of sandalwood; the delicious lure of vanilla, like a lover’s midnight embrace” leads to a new career in fashion as well, keeping Danielle in the spotlight, pursued by a stalker who seems obsessed with her destruction.
A rushed and convoluted plot combines with an underdeveloped, uninspiring heroine, a love story without much spark and enough clichéd prose to sink the Bismarck.