Review: ‘One Christmas In Paris’ by Mandy Baggot (@bookouture; @mandybaggot)

31750478The Official Book Blurb

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men … Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret?

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love amongst the cobbled streets of Paris?

Join Ava and Julien in the most romantic city in the world this Christmas, as they discover the importance of being true to themselves, and learn how to follow their hearts.

Okay. Let’s be honest. I’m no romantic. For a book to hold my attention it needs to have characters that I like and a great and funny or moving story line to draw me along. Did this book hit the spot? Well yes, actually. It flipping well did.

Ava Devlin is a woman on the run – from her mother, from her ex-boyfriend, from her life. When her friend Debs offers her the chance to escape with her to Paris to help her write some articles for a magazine she jumps at it. She has no plans other than to avoid her mother who is hell bent on taking her to Goa to detox before pushing her into some top modelling assignment that she doesn’t want to do.

Now this doesn’t sound very boohoo does it? Good looking young woman with possibility of lucrative modelling job and a free holiday, flying first class no less, to Goa. But imagine you were that young woman and it was the exact opposite of what you wanted for your life. If you wanted to enjoy chocolate brownies and being a size ten rather than starving yourself on goji berries to become a size zero. That’s Ava’s life. And her mother, hilariously titled ‘Rhoda Rhinestone’ by her daughter, is an overbearing demanding woman who wants to live vicariously through her daughter.

Julien on the other hand is a young frenchman who has suffered an unimaginable loss which changed his whole life. He has been in mourning for a year and nothing, not even his beloved camera, has been able to bring him joy in all of that time. Until he meets Ava. There is something about her which makes him want to take her picture. All the time. Not in a weirdly deranged stalkerish way (although I’m aware this is how it sounds) but in terms of capturing the essence of life which he sees in her eyes.

Now it’s not all plain sailing between the two, where’s the fun in that, and miscommunication and assumptions nearly does for the pair before they have a real chance. Ava is wary of men due to her cheating ex-boyfriend and one of the two reasons for her and Debs really being in Paris, and Julien is wary of falling in love given the way his last relationship ended.

I kind of liked Ava. She’s the sort of person you just wanted to stand up to her mother, to give her a piece of her mind rather than simply keep ignoring her calls, but you could really get a sense of the person inside through the writing. The girl who had been coerced into life choices that weren’t her own and who was finally learning to enjoy life. And Debs is a really lively character that you can’t help but like. Apart from her annoying habit of over using the word ‘totes’. Unless talking about a large plastic crate used for transporting goods, it is the kind of thing that would have me wrapping a ‘tote’ around her head after a while. That aside, her banter with Ava and relationship with Julien’s friend Didier was hilarious.

As for Julien… Ah, the tortured artist. Gotta love one of them. He seemed a genuinely nice guy and was so sympathetically written that as you learned more of his story you can understand why Ava would fall for him. The chemistry between them was captured perfectly, even if the cynic in me (which is at least 85% of my body mass) pulled a little face at some of the gushy romantic moments. Sorry – that’s just me. Career romantics will absolutely love it, trust me.

This book is full of laughs, indignation, and a couple of showdowns – not dramatic, tense face offs but more an emotional confrontation which led to final, long overdue honesty, proving you really shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. Or, in this case, a Rhoda by her Rhinestones. But there are some truly touching and poignant moments, none more so that the time in which Julien explains the reasons behind the impromptu exhibition of his work. I don’t mind admitting it choked me up a little. Really brilliant and moving writing there.

I also don’t mind admitting that although I like the sound of the chocolate brioche, the snail butter and Camembert did make me feel a little queasy. Give me Rhoda’s goji berries any day rather than that. Yuk.

So do Julien and Ava get their perfect Christmas or is this simply a holiday romance which is doomed to fizzle out when Ava finally goes home? Well… pick up the book and find out. You won’t regret it. It really does capture the spirit of the city, the romance that tourists expect to see while not overlooking the vulnerabilities of the city and its resident’s either.

A romantic, heart warming and moving 5 stars.

5

My thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the ARC of ‘One Christmas In Paris‘. The book is available to purchase at the following links:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Kobo

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