Brie and I met because we visit the some of the same blogs :) Actually, the book we've reviewed today, We'll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart, is the best proof LOL. We both read Wendy's recent post about comfort authors and ended up buying Ms Hart's newest release LOL. When we realized it, we decided to buddy review the book :) And voila! Enjoy!
We'll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart
published by Harlequin Romance in April 2012
I've done it! Thanks to my awesome powers of persuasion, elusive-but-dreamy TV star Simon Valentine is starring in our new romance documentary!Genre: Category romance, contemporary romance
It wasn't easy, though—Simon thinks his status as prime-time financial guru turned celebrity is ridiculous! He says he now steers well clear of affairs of the heart, but surely he must have one romantic bone left in his body?
Much as I'd like to find out firsthand, I've sworn off men after a disastrous ending with my last boyfriend. Must remain professional—though it won't be easy…we're filming in the most romantic city of all...
Brie: How did you like it? I enjoyed it a lot, the heroine not once got on my nerves, surprising considering that she had all the ingredients to be annoying. She was silly, obsessed with musicals and too happy for my taste (I know, I’m weird that way). But underneath it all, there was this honest and hardworking woman trying to deal with heartbreak. My favorite thing about her was that even though she was deeply hurt by her ex, she never regretted loving him. I found that to be such a refreshing attitude. Usually in romance when one of the characters has bad luck in love they swear off romance for life and just engage in meaningless sex. Not the case here, she kept looking for that one person to love her just as much as she deserved.
Nath: LOL, too happy? You are definitely weird, Brie!
Actually, I very much enjoyed the characters in We’ll Always Have Paris. Going into the book, I knew the main theme was “happy-go-lucky heroine thawing stuff hero” - one of my favorite which is why I picked up this book - and I have to say, the H/H were as I expected :) I like heroines that are happy and cheerful like Clara. I think there’s a fine line between being silly and being an airhead. In the case of Clara, she chooses to see the good sides of things in life. It’s not as if she’s not aware of the bad or ignoring it, but she decides to build her life on the positive... And as such, I think she’s a lot stronger and braver people than people give her credit for. It’s easy to be angry or to give up, but to be genuinely cheerful is much harder in my opinion.
I have to agree with you that her attitude towards love was refreshing. I liked that she didn’t want to settle, that she was looking for someone who would love her the way she deserved. Another thing I liked? The time frame... If I’m not wrong, when We’ll Always Have Paris opens, she has broken up with her ex-boyfriend for almost two years right? I liked that Simon wasn’t a rebound relationship...
What did you think of Simon, Brie?
Brie: I loved him! I’ve got a soft spot for aloof and clueless heroes, and he was definitely that. I found his character to be slightly cartoonish, with his take on life and his inability to believe that true love was real. But he wasn’t bad, and his background gave him depth and a reason to be that way.
Nath: Yeah, Simon was a good hero. I like the way Ms Hart developed his character. She gave us enough background so readers understood why he was the way he was and that was key to the story I think. Something else I liked is that although stuffy, Simon was not cold :) He obviously loved his mother, although she exasperated him. He agreed to help Clara out, because he felt he owed her. Despite his inability to understand romance, he was a good guy :)
However, you know why I like the “happy-go-lucky heroine thawing out stuffy hero” theme so much? It’s because I love seeing the heroes being puzzled by the heroines, the changes that occur and when they find themselves so out of their depth :) I find it endearing... But in the case of Simon, I don’t feel there was enough of those moments. Yes, he was puzzled by Clara, but I don’t feel like she drew him out of his shell enough :(
Also, I thought the beginning of We’ll Always Have Paris was really good. However, I didn’t like that there were so many stretches of time that Clara and Simon weren’t together. As readers, we didn’t get to see it, but it was there. Although the plus side of the way the story takes place is that Clara and Simon got to know each other and also miss each other. Still for me, the book started losing a bit of momentum after Paris :( And I’m not totally happy with the way the relationship blossomed.
I did like the ending though :) The grand gesture by Simon was just sooo sweet!! :)
Brie: I’m not a fan of “the grand gesture” in romance, but I think it was fitting for this particular story. And also, it wasn’t really that grand, only the heroine gets to see it, so I wasn’t that embarrassed by it!
Nath: True, true, it wasn’t such a “grand” gesture, but it was definitively meaningful to the two of them... and such gestures are so much better :) I don’t really care about people declaring their love to the whole world and seriously, it is sweeter when it’s embarrassing? I don’t think so. Here, it was just perfect :) A good way for Clara to know Simon really understood her.
By the way, what did you think of the fact that Clara’s parents were scholars and she didn’t fit in? I thought that was a bit superfluous.
Brie: I thought it was just the same old plot device. The carefree, slightly airheaded heroine who doesn’t fit in her family of intellectuals. Because we all know that carefree people can’t have intelligent conversations and intellectuals only think about books and science. It’s a very common stereotype that I’m used to reading in romance and in chick-lit in particular. Speaking of which: Did you think that this book read a bit like a chick-lit novel? The heroine had a bad breakup, she finally found a job that she likes but she has to jump through a lot of hoops, and lots of funny and silly things keep happening to her. It reminded me of British authors like Sophie Kinsella and Jill Mansell. What did you think?
Nath: I know what you mean. It’s true that often, the carefee heroine is often portrayed as the “black” sheep of the family. And in this case, It kind of made me think of I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella - perhaps because I’ve recently read it. In We’ll Always Have Paris, it just wasn’t developed enough and therefore why I thought it was superfluous.
Hmmm, I know where you’re coming from with the chick-lit comment and it’s true when you break the book down like that, it does sound like a chick-lit novel. However, I wonder if it’s not because the heroine is carefree that gives this book a chick-lit feel more than the storyline overall? Know what I mean?
Brie: I agree, I think her personality is what gave her that chick-lit feel. This could easily be labeled as a romantic comedy for that same reason. It was a fun, light read, with a sweet romance and a charming heroine.
You know who I didn’t like? The hero’s mother. She dumped all this responsibility on his shoulders and he acts like he owes her so much just for doing her job as a mother. And then as soon as he was old enough to support her, she quits her job and completely relies on him. The way she was written, I’m sure she was meant to come across as funny and lovely, but I found her annoying, and she was one of the reasons why he was so uptight.
Nath: LOL, I thought Simon’s mother and Clara would get along well. It’s true that by getting a job, she did what a mother should do... At the same time, it doesn’t stop Simon from being grateful. If you think about it, Simon’s lucky because his mother was strong enough to step up and keep it together for the two of them. Plus, at that point, her life had completely changed. It must not have been easy for her either, so I can see why Simon feels like he owes her. You’re right though that it’s been a bit overly done through in the storyline.
I think what baffles Simon the most though is that after what she went through, his mother hasn’t wised up - falling in love with inappropriate men ^_^; Simon being an economist is because his father died, leaving them in debt... while him being uptight is due to seeing his mother being vulnerable time after time because of “her feelings.”
Brie: I agree. He can’t believe that after everything she went through his mother keeps making the same mistakes over and over, choosing the wrong guys. There’s an obvious parallel there between Simon’s mother and Clara, they both have similar takes on life but one does everything wrong while the other knows not to make the same mistake twice.
Overall I think it was great story. I was thoroughly entertained, the hero was standoffish but good and the heroine was cute and fun. I would recommend this to fans of contemporary romance looking for a quick read. What about you? Any closing thoughts?
Nath: I think there were some great elements about We’ll Always Have Paris. As I said, I loved the characters and I think the first half of the book was very strong. However, I had a few issues and as a whole, the book didn’t totally measure up to my expectations. I wanted more, especially when it came to the development of Clara and Simon’s relationship. I wish there had more scenes of them as a couple. It would have made the ending more believable in my opinion.
Taken all together, my grade is C+ (3.5/5).
Brie: It gets a 3.5 from me also. It was good but not great, however, it is an enjoyable read. And as usual for the Romance line, there’s one fade-to-black sex scene, in case some of our readers are interested in the sensuality level.