Cat has inherited a French estate from a woman she’s never heard of before, and isn’t even related to. She then travels to France, meets a handsome Frenchman, and travels all over the country with him to uncover the mystery surrounding the estate. The exact same thing happened to me last week. Small world.
What’s it About?
New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down. Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family? As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.
I absolutely LOVE the premise of this story. I mean, who wouldn’t want to inherit a Parisian apartment? But then to discover that said apartment hasn’t been entered since WWII, and still contains furniture and treasures from the infamous Belle Époque era? It provides such a captivating window to the past. Shockingly enough, this time capsule apartment was actually discovered in 2010. A fascinating tidbit which I think should have been shared at the beginning of the story rather than on the last page of the book.
When Cat arrives in Paris, she soon discovers that although the apartment was left to her, the previous owner, Isabelle de Florian, had relatives in the south of France. Enter Loic, a devastatingly handsome Frenchman who accompanies Cat on her journey to discover why the apartment was abandoned, and why it was never left to Isabelle’s relatives. So much intrigue! Loic is almost perfect: he’s handsome, owns a vineyard, and even talks to his mother on a regular basis. However! He doesn’t have a French accent, which just seems like a travesty 😦
There’s another little problem with Cat traipsing all over the French countryside with a flirtatious Frenchman at her side: she’s engaged to another man. Oh no you didn’t girlfriend! Her fiancé, Christian, and Loic are polar opposites, and Loic tries to convince her throughout their travels that if she follows through with the marriage she will lose a part of who she really is. It’s just such a trying day when you have a Frenchman seemingly staring into your soul, and attempting to get you to leave your fiancé to be with him instead.
The apartment belonged to Loic’s grandmother, and the majority of the novel involves Loic and Cat trying to discover how she came from Paris to live in the south of France following WWII. Unfortunately, there is so much focus on the search for Isabelle’s life story, that you sort of forget that Cat’s family is involved at all. In addition, there is a part in the middle where the apartment storyline is completely forgotten, and instead the focus switches to the love triangle going on between Cat, Loic and Christian. I think more of a blend between the 2 storylines could have been effective.
Another disappointment for me was the big reveal at the end. Throughout the book we are wondering how Cat came to inherit this apartment, and what actually happened to Loic’s grandmother all those years ago. At one point it seems like we’ll never actually discover the truth. But at the last-minute a letter is discovered which explains everything in exact detail. How convenient. Every question is answered, and it is such a heartbreaking tale that I was near tears. However, this letter wasn’t really styled like a letter, and instead was written like an extension of the novel’s narrative. There was almost too much detail, espcially considering it was written by an acquaintance of Isabelle’s, and it added an unrealistic feeling to the whole reveal.
*A copy of this novel was provided for an honest review*
Should you read it: The premise definitely draws you in, but I think there were some problems in the execution. There were just too many different elements involved, and it was hard to bring them all together into a cohesive story. You’ve got Cat, Loic, their mothers, their grandmothers, Loic’s grandmothers’ mother, and hell even a dying child thrown in at the end as a total afterthought.
Smut Level: No smut. We’ve only got 2 kisses in the whole book, but there is many a longing look throughout.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Lake Union Publishing. 282 Pages.