REVIEW: Frenched by Melanie Harlow
Dear Ms. Harlow:
I saw some talk on a Twitter about this book and the blurb seemed cute. It’s written in the first person past tense and is narrated by Mia Devine, an event planner, who is informed by her fiancé one week before her wedding that he can’t go through with it. She’s left alone in their shared townhome with expensive sheets, towels, and even luggage with their shared monogram while Tucker, her ex, is in Vegas tweeting stuff like “barely escaping a burning building by ditching the ball and chain.”
Mia’s friends convince her to use the already paid honeymoon to Paris to escape the hometown humiliation and do all the things she wanted to do while in Paris. She relents because Paris has been a dream of hers for many years. Unfortunately, the first day all she sees is a bunch of stupid lovers topped off by a couple actually getting engaged. Disgruntled, she stops in a pub and meets Lucas Fournier, a professor moonlighting as a bartender at his brother’s bar.
He challenges her concept that Paris is only for lovers by asking her to allow him to be her tour guide for one day. One day leads to another and soon Lucas and Mia are going all over the romantic city while Mia forgets the pain of her engagement and falls head over heels for Lucas.
Now Lucas is charming. He’s well read and mannerly. He listens to Mia and takes her to places that she has already wanted to see while providing unique local color. Not to mention he’s got a buff body, sweet smile, and a mop full of hair that tended to curl. (I kept picturing Harry Styles for some reason.) And he’s spectacular in bed, something that the ex was not. But Mia just got jilted and even though serious attempts are made to show how ill-suited her former fiancé was her quick tumble into love with Lucas lacked believability. But I did think that the way that the physical relationship developed was pitched just right with Mia being the instigator.
This is a light hearted read as Frenched doesn’t dwell overlong on the downsides of Mia’s life. She spends most of the book contemplating the fun she’s having and very little wallowing in justified self pity. There’s a great sense of place too. A clear love of Paris and French related things from the wine to the bread to reading the love letters of Abelard and Heloise together is well conveyed.
The real stumbling block for me was how the conflict played out. Lucas has an impediment to a long term relationship but that is overcome literally over night and the ending of the story didn’t bring enough closure. Lucas is a professor in New York and Mia is an event planner in Detroit Michigan. The story came off as a sweet holiday fling but there wasn’t any stickiness to the relationship that I could believe in at the end.
Both characters are very likeable and the story is readable. The sex scenes are plentiful and steamy. There is little to no character development. In other words, Mia was a planner devoted to her lists at the start of the book and she was the same person at the end. Same with Lucas other than the internal conflict issue. I’d definitely read another Harlow book but I can’t say that I was particularly fulfilled when I ended the story. C+