Jennifer Greene – "Blame It On Paris"

14 May

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: HQN Books, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I enjoyed the two previous novels by Greene (Blame It on Chocolate; Blame It on Cupid) and liked Greene’s writing style, so I got this one also.

The back blurb:
“Kelly Rochard is determined to have one last adventure before settling down to married life!
Still, being mugged at the Louvre is not what she had in mind for her long-awaited trip to Paris. Until Will Maguire comes to her aid, and she finds herself completely distracted by the handsome stranger in the Notre Dame sweatshirt.
Kelly can’t seem to resist the world’s most romantic city or Will, who is determined to show her all its treasures, from the top of the Eiffel Tower to strolls along the Seine.
But will their love last when they’re back in plain old South Bend, Indiana, or will they end up blaming their breathless fling on the city of love?”

Blame It on Paris was off to a slow start for me. I don’t know if it was because of the story itself or just because I started to read it on a bench in the park (and kept getting distracted by the gaggling chatting group of girls on the next bench), but after starting with it on a sunny day at the end of April, I put it down for nearly two weeks. A few days ago I picked it up again and finished it on the same day (this time, at home).

Yes, I thought the story picked up then. No, I don’t think it’s just because there were no gaggling chatting girls around and I have zero powers to concentrate, it’s also because the things I liked best about Blame It on Paris then slowly took shape and I was over my scoff about the meeting of the heroine and the hero. The beginning of BIOP was very much a fantasy (everything went dreamlike even though the heroine was mugged) and while that was nice, my interest only was really engaged after reality intruded on more and more on the fantasy.

The second half of the story, after Kelly went back home, turned to the question how to make fantasy work in reality, dividing the story in two parts. Back home, there are a lot of things which threaten Kelly’s and Will’s HEA, not the least of which is set in motion by Kelly’s reason for her trip to Paris.

Kelly comes to Paris to learn more about herself. She wants to see where her dead father, whom she never knew, grew up and she wants to see where she comes from before she starts with the next part of her life (marriage to her fiancĂ© Jason). But before she knows more about herself at the end of the story, she not only loses her identity literally by being mugged, she also loses her sense of identity. Everything she ever thought she knew (about herself) is questioned because of her trip to Paris. There she meets Will, and while at first glance he might look like he knows what he’s about, in the course of the story it becomes clear that he also has to come to terms with his sense of self and identity.

I liked this element of the story. It was interesting and fascinating to see how Greene made the different parts and facets of this theme come together and fit, also at times it was a bit much. For example, there is a small incident later which helps to illuminate Will’s character but since its resolution was left a bit dangling at the end, this thread struck me as “too much” and, seen this way, better left out.

Kelly and Will are a great couple. Even though they are attracted to each other right from the start and act on that attraction pretty soon, Greene managed to convince me that they’re right for each other and even have something to say and give to each other when they manage to keep their hormones in check from time to time. That’s not to say that I wasn’t convinced of the magical nature of their days in Paris. IMO, this was rather well done. But more than that I liked how Greene portrayed Kelly’s and Will’s “reality” relationship: they are different but they get each other and they do this with a nice and warm touch of humour.

Reading Blame It on Paris reminded me that sometimes reading for the author and not just the story itself (I got this book because of my enjoyment of the author’s writing style not because of the story) is worth it. Despite the fantasy aspects of the story (their meeting, wealth of characters), Greene’s story and characters have a common sense to them that I like and which works for me.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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