Book Title and Author: A French Affair by Katie Fforde
Publication Date and Publisher: July 7, 2017 by Bookouture
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 337 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: August 8, 2017
Gina and Sally Makepiece have inherited a stall in the French House – an antiques centre nestled in the heart of the English countryside.
Gina is determined to drag the French House and its grumpy owner into the twenty-first century. Bearing all the attributes of a modern-day Mr. Rochester, Matthew Ballinger is less than happy with the whirlwind that has arrived on his doorstep. The last thing either of them wants is to fall in love.
But will a trip to France change their minds?
I don’t often read romance novels, but I have been devouring Katie Fforde’s novels for almost two decades because I like the way they make me feel all cozy and at home; I especially like the way they make me feel transported to the English countryside where I wish that I were right now instead of brewing in the still triple digits of a Southern summer! They are just the right mixture of whimsical storyline and complicated romance to be the perfect quick, light, funny reads when in a reading slump or whenever one needs a palette cleanser after reading back to back thrillers and suspense as I have so recently been doing.
The reader is introduced to the two Makepiece sisters in A French Affair: Gina is a single, professional PR person, and Sally is married, young with two very small girls. The story begins when the two sisters learn they have inherited a small inheritance from their Aunt Rainey, an antique stall in The French House, a lovely antique center where other antique dealers rent stalls and sell their wares. The only problem is that neither sister has the slightest clue about antiques or how to run an antique business, so they question what motivated Aunt Rainey to leave them her stall and not just leave them the money she promises them if they agree to continue her business. Yet, Aunt Rainey is known to be eccentric and a bit wild, so they chalk up the inheritance as another one of her wild schemes.
Sally is one of those people who is up for anything even though she has no interest in old antiques or the antique center, so she quickly agrees to the prospect, especially since working at the center a few hours a week will give her much needed time from her girls. Since I used to be a young mother with two little boys only 2 years apart running around, I could definitely sympathize with Sally, but she really did start to irritate me as the book went on because she just came across as petty and selfish at times and not just a little overbearing and overly-emotional. I’m not sure if that is the way that Fforde meant for her to be, but I wanted to slap her at times. She did redeem herself in the end though, but still.
Gina is more cautious, especially since she has her full-time job and learning about antiques, not counting working the stall, will take considerable time and effort. But she is nothing but determined and extremely hard working, which I really liked about her character! Gina is the star of the book with her quick wit, feistiness, intelligence, and pure force of will. It’s very rare to read a romance novel with a strong, realistic female protagonists, but Fforde has never let me down by having all her main female character being exactly that way (I consider Sally the side kick in this one).
Plus, there is the matter of Matthew Ballinger, the owner of the French House…to learn about antiques, Gina must spend time under his tutelage, a prospect both daunting and enticing since he is taciturn and gorgeous. It was lovely to see the romance between these two blossom since it was not overnight, but actually develops along the course of the storyline as Gina falls not only in love with antiques, the French House, and with Matthew. And when Gina learns that the antique center is danger of being sold, she is absolutely brilliant with her ideas and schemes to keep it from happening since she wants to help the man she loves save his business and his home-and save what has become for her a passion just as her Aunt Rainey knew it would! I love how the storyline really takes off from there!
This was another lovely little read by Fforde! Fforde’s books are always great fun even if a little predictable at times and admittedly, this was not my favorite of her books, but that was only because I didn’t enjoy some of the characters. Still, her writing was beautiful and descriptive as always: I felt transported to France, the antique stalls, the French House, and the English countryside! And the storyline was wonderfully romantic. Fforde will always be a favorite author, and I look forward to her next novel! If you are looking for a lovely, cozy romance, then this is the perfect novel! You won’t be disappointed!
**Thank you, NetGalley, Bookouture, and Katie Fforde for an ARC in exchange for my honest and fair review. **