You may remember me mentioning before that I’m a fan of Karen Swan’s Christmas novels and that I have bought her summer releases too. I get totally swept up in the characters’ lives, not even a tiny part of the real world around me seeps through when I’m reading. Intrigued by the blurb of The Paris Secret I was excited to be approved by publishers Pan MacMillan via Netgalley. Did The Paris Secret live up to my expectations?
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1016 KB
Print Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (14 July 2016)
Not every door should be opened . . .
Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.
High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to assess these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and discover who has concealed them for so long.
Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren’t all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family’s affairs – but just what is he hiding?
I was hooked from the very beginning with a prologue that left me with plenty of questions …
Getting to know Flora’s family at their home in Wiltshire there’s further intrigue surrounding brother Freddie. In some of my recent reads there are important things the reader knows about that the characters don’t but in The Paris Secret, Freddie tells Flora the reason behind his weight loss and anxiety but we don’t know. I loved how this was kept from me – not even a tiny hint! and pure genius how it ties into another thread of the story later on.
I think Flora’s character at the start of the story is portrayed perfectly during the scene in the auction house with Grey Suit. Relationships and emotions aren’t a priority in her life and as we get deeper into the story, I loved seeing her stripped of those protective layers to those raw emotions that totally drew me in. Compelling!
We’re drawn into the upper echelons of society with the Vermeil family when the art and artefacts are uncovered. I wanted to know why the codicil on the will … why did Jacques Vermeil’s mother not want them to visit the apartment? What was she hiding? Watch out for a scene in the apartment with Gertie the Ostrich and Natascha. Although it had me laughing there is a deeper meaning.
More intrigue is uncovered by Flora as she follows leads for proof of provenance. What did Noah have to do with it? No matter how hard I tried to piece it all together, I couldn’t get it to add up. I loved the Vermeil response and decided to take it at face value so when the reveal came, it was a huge shock! So very emotional.
I’ve come to expect awesome settings in Karen Swan’s novels and The Paris Secret lives up to those expectations. I loved Antibes but Paris and Nice are great too. I loved the glitz and glamour. Karen Swan weaves this through the plot and I loved how an annual festival has a dual purpose romantically for Flora and Xavier but also leads into a dark scene which takes us deeper into another thread of the plot.
The Paris Secret kept me reading when I should have been sleeping … I’ve been totally absorbed in this world. The attraction and romance is far from easy, the history (WWII) is very emotional and themes of the shadow side of life are explored. I felt every emotion alongside the characters.
The Paris Secret is one of my top reads this year. Highly recommended!
I would like to thank the publishers for approval via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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