Suddenly unemployed and single, Anna escapes to her parents’ beautiful house in France for a much-needed recharge – and to work out what she wants to do next with her life now her carefully mapped out plan has gone out the window.
Anna gives herself 6 months to recuperate, all the while helping renovate her parents’ adjoining gites into picturesque B&Bs. But working alongside the ruggedly handsome Sam on the renovation project, she didn’t expect for life to take an unexpected, if not unwelcome, twist…
The setting for this story makes it special from the beginning. Anna is at a crossroads in her life, she has a plan and thought it was working out but soon discovers it isn’t. Arriving at her parents’ French B&B gives her chance to heal from her toxic relationship and plan her next move. Anna’s journey is more than a hop over the channel, it brings her into contact with Sam, her polar opposite, he doesn’t plan and doesn’t see the need to finish everything he starts, yet they manage to work together renovating two smaller properties on their parent’s estate. There are lots of renovating tips as the story progresses, which increase the story’s visual impact, very useful also if you want to do any house renovation. 🙂
Sam has a tragic secret, which blights his life, his attitude frustrates Anna, but she can’t help but like him, maybe because of their differences. There’s a mystery to solve and some lovely characters to meet, and there’s Karl, Anna’s ex-boyfriend who won’t leave her alone, but is this more about saving face than a broken heart?Anna’s journey of self-discovery is at a realistic, gentle pace but the setting combined with the possibility of romance and the mystery Anna and Sam have to solve makes this an easy to read, page-turner, with a believable outcome.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Here’s an extract from The French Adventure…
‘Karl sidles up to me. Nestling his body up against my back, he wraps his arms around my waist to give me a hug. I continue to unwrap a few cheeses and lay them out on a platter, laughing as he buries his head in my hair. We always come back to my place after a night out. He lives like a bachelor, and his fridge is never stocked.
‘You’re very quiet tonight, Anna. Anything I should be worried about?’
I tried to join in with the spirit of the film, but with my head filled with so many conflicting emotions, it was hard to concentrate. I’m on the brink of challenging him about our situation and telling him how unhappy I am with the way things are. Tonight, all I could think about was how I would begin that conversation. But there’s an underlying problem. Assuming that Karl immediately wants to do the right thing and make me happy, rather than risk losing me, what if I don’t suddenly feel my life is complete, after all?
What if things don’t fall nicely into place? It’s like I have this disconnect. I want to love him; I want this to be right. However, I can’t engage until he’s proven beyond any doubt whatsoever that he loves me. Only then will I truly know how I feel and hopefully be able to say that back to him.
‘I’m… tired. That’s all.’
‘Hey,’ he turns me round so he can stare into my eyes. I have a cheese knife in one hand and a piece of kitchen towel in the other. ‘I don’t like to think of my girl overdoing it. If you need to take some time off the boss is saying yes.’
When he looks down at me with that look on his face, it’s a different Karl I see. There is a vulnerable streak there, a softness to him that never shows at work.
‘I’ll be fine. It’s only that… sometimes I’m not sure what the future holds.’
Damn it, Anna, why do you have to soften it? Ask him outright! Or are you scared you won’t get the answer you think you want?
‘The future is bright, I can promise you that. We’re going to be trailblazers, Anna. You’re going to love being driven around in a Porsche and taken to the best restaurants. And it’s not just my success we’re talking about here, Anna, we’re a team. Your parents are going to be very proud of their daughter’s achievements.’
I stare back at him, trying hard to hide my bitter disappointment.
‘I just want to be happy, Karl, and have a good work/life balance. Work is only a part of it.’
He looks at me and emits a slow sigh.
‘I see this as a start, and my aspirations go way beyond that. I don’t want a mediocre life, I want it all – for us. One day I’m going to run my own company and prove to my father I have what it takes.’
I met Karl’s parents once, and that was enough. I felt uncomfortable in their companyas if I wasn’t good enough for their son. Which was bad enough, but the way his father treated him was appalling. He kept asking questions and challenging every single little thing. I knew Karl was embarrassed and we hardly spoke a word on the journey back home.
‘Money and material things don’t necessarily bring happiness, Karl.’ I catch his eye, even though I can see he doesn’t want to listen.’
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.