Hi romance friends!
Since I had to tell you all about my fun adventures in the Midwest in my last post, I pushed back the one I’d planned with an “April in Paris” theme. Given the crazy weather we’re having, I guess we can just call it Springtime, right? I love Paris, but my own romantic journey actually involved leaving that great city 20 years ago to come home and marry my own Mr. Right. I haven’t been back since, so I’m hopeful that sometime soon DH and I will be able to get back to The City of Lights and experience it together.
Until then, I love to read a good book or watch a movie that gives me a peek into Paris—and my own past. Recently, there’ve been some really sweet romances that I loved and gave me my France fix.
Megan Mulry is an up-and-coming romance writer whose Unruly Royals series I really enjoyed. Her most recent title, R is For Rebel, is both fun and intense and is set in various places around the world, but many of the most romantic scenes happen in Paris. Megan is a Francophile, too, so I asked her to share some of her suggestions.
I adore all things French (okay, nearly all things)—the food, the fashion, the sense of style, the amour, the architecture—even the arrogance, I love it. The first time I went to France was during the summer of 1984, long before e-readers and tablets; I was all about the dog-eared paperback. France is often like that in my imagination—both familiar and full of promise. Here are some books set in France that evoke that feeling for me:
Peach (1986) by Elizabeth Adler. “From wartime Paris to the dazzling Côte d’Azur…from the frenetic boardrooms of Detroit and the palatial homes of Grosse Pointe to the stately English countryside, their indomitable wills collide in a saga of consuming passion and raw power played out against the backdrop of a rich and reckless world.” Consuming passion and indomitable wills?
A rich and reckless world? I am so in. I love romance novels of the sweeping, trans-Atlantic variety, and this one totally delivers.
These Old Shades (published 1926, set in 1755-56) and Devil’s Cub (published 1926, set in 1780), both Sourcebooks Reprints by Georgette Heyer. I visit Heyer like I visit Tiffany or Cartier: to behold the gems. The Duke of Avon delivers some of the best cutting retorts in all of romance. Plus, reading Heyer always makes me feel connected to the generations of romance readers and writers who have come before me.
Priceless and Perfect by Marne Davis Kellogg. Kick Keswick is based in Provence, but her secret life as a jewel thief takes her all over Europe. I love the fun, fast-paced frivolity of these books. As Kirkus said in 2005:
“Kick is a delightful protagonist: utterly indulgent and yet self-disciplined, needing only herself to get through life, but loving her husband for the fun of it. Kellogg’s burnished prose deftly immerses readers in a deeply pleasurable world of shameless wealth, yet neither author nor heroine ever seems like a snob.”
Lastly, even though they are not technically romances, I also recommend The Flaneur by Edmund White and Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik because they are still love stories—only about falling in love with a place instead of a person.
Thanks so much for having me! —Megan
(Megan’s next book, Roulette, to be released in December 2014 by Montlake Romance, promises to be one of those sweeping, trans-Atlantic sagas she loves.)
Another fairly recent author to the scene, Laura Florand made a big splash with 2012’s French-set The Chocolate Thief, and she hasn’t slowed down since. Her Parisian-set Amour et Chocolat books are delightful, but considering they combine love, chocolate and Paris, how could they not be?
I asked Laura to share some of her faves, too—and while I usually edit repeats from authors, I love These Old Shades and The Devil’s Cub so much, I decided to leave them in both authors’ suggestions, especially since they wrote about them so charmingly...
Some of Laura’s favorites:
What more delightful way to travel to Paris than kidnapped by wild bad boy Dominic in Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub or caught up in a mad dash of kidnappings and ventre à terre rescues in These Old Shades? Prosaic Mary Challoner and considerably more madcap Léonie both handle their kidnappings with aplomb, I might add.
In more recent work, Meredith Duran’s Alex and Gwen make their trip to Paris and on through France in a charged, sexy and meaningful voyage of mutual discovery in Wicked Becomes You. What better place for a nice girl to learn how to take her life in both hands than in 19th-century Paris?
Certainly Marcelline Noirot in Loretta Chase’s Silk is for Seduction finds it a good place to take her life—via one sexy duke’s fiancee—into her own hands. But, of course, Marcelline never claimed to play nice….
And for a real-life adventure in Paris, try Eloisa James’ delightful capture of the city in Paris in Love.
But for my own trip back to Paris in a few weeks, I’m downloading Ros Clarke’s new An Unsuitable Husband. She’s promised me a sexy French soccer player who knows how to curse to rival a French chef. Hmm…certain chocolatiers are feeling challenged…. —Laura
Bobbi here. Yes, I truly loved Eloisa James’ Paris in Love, too. And since she wrote that book, I had to ask her for at least one Paris suggestion. In the middle of a book tour and preparing for finals, she still got back to me with this: “I'm reading A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable right now and enjoying it very much.” (Seriously, I don’t know how she does everything she does, and while still reading more books than anyone....And that book looks great!) But since we brought up Paris memoirs, I thought I’d include one I read a while ago that I really enjoyed, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, With Recipes by Elizabeth Bard.
So, romance fans—have you read any of these? Did you love them? What other Paris- or French-set books would you recommend?