From an American travel-book writer who lives in France, a first novel about an American travel-book writer who lives in France and agrees to write a book on French history that turns into something much more sexy.
Thirty-two-year-old Meg lives in Lorraine with her British husband Nigel and their two small children. Meg is bored not only with unbearably stereotypical Nigel—he spouts lines of Shakespeare ad nauseum, is a rugby fanatic and has no appreciation of Meg’s serious French cooking—but also with the travel and language guides she writes. Then her dream book contract, to write a historical guide, falls in her lap. She makes hasty babysitting arrangements since Nigel can’t be trusted to take care of the kids and sets off. The only hitch is that she must travel with a photographer. Jean Jacques or J.J., as he is called by his friends—and he has many everywhere since he comes from a famous wine family—has little interest in Meg’s academic approach to France’s history. He is all about its living traditions, especially regarding food and wine. With his graying ponytail and Arab scarf, J.J. is as romantically French as Nigel is ploddingly British. So readers will not be surprised when the antagonism between Meg and J.J. shifts into mutual passion that quickly deepens into love. Despite small whiffs of guilt at leaving her children for long stretches, Meg goes on one jaunt after another, eating, drinking and fornicating across some gorgeous French countryside. Unfortunately, Nigel is not a complete dolt. When he shows up with children in tow at Agincourt, Meg bolts. She hides away in a rural village to finish the book and decide between family responsibility and amour. Finally, she returns home, but when another assignment with J.J. comes along, she is ready. Poor Nigel.
Coons is adept at earthy sensuality. But plot and characters are excruciatingly predictable.