Thursday, April 19

Review: We'll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart

One of the reasons I love blogging so much is the people you get meet and the friends you make :) It's really just awesome to have this instant connection with someone. Just the fact that you mention character names and that other blogger immediately knows the book you're talking about... It's an incredible feeling! So today, I'm happy to introduce my newest blogger friend, Brie from Romance Around the Corner, as my buddy reviewer!

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!

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...
Genre: Category romance, contemporary romance
Series: None

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.


Brie said...

I have to say, I really agree with Brie on this one! LOL

Thank you so much for having me, it such a different experience from writing my usual reviews, way more entertaining.

nath said...

Brie - Hah Brie! :) Well you know, you must agree a little with me no? Since at the end of the day, we gave it the same grade?

No problem, Brie! It was a real pleasure! Hey the more blogger friends I have that are willing to buddy review books with me, the better for BT! :)

~ames~ said...

I like this kind of opposites attract story and was really looking forward to your thoughts on it. It's too bad it didn't quite measure up.

Wendy said...

C?! Two Cs?!?! Y'all are breaking my heart - LOL!

My own review is scheduled to land over at TGTBTU this weekend (last time I checked). And you should read it anyway Ames. Just cuz I liked it so much ;)

~ames~ said...

I think I will Wendy! We'll see where I fall grade-wise. :P

Samantha said...

Great review! This one had sounded really interesting to me. A little sad to hear that it only managed a 3.5 grade from you both, but I'll probably eventually check it out. I'll admit I'm drawn in by the promise of a stuffy hero. ;)

Jade said...

Great in-depth review. I loved reading your thoughts on the book and the characters. The plot seems to be a very popular and typical one for romance, but the characters sound interesting enough to carry this off.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really sweet book, I don't know if I'll like the mothers but I'll try to give it a try.

Hilcia said...

Okay, two C's, and Wendy loved it? Now I have to read it to find out what's going on here. LOL!

Opposites attract are a favorite trope. I'll just have to read it myself. LOL... Great review, ladies!

nath said...

Ames - This was definitively about opposites attract, Ames :) Still, I think you should give it a try. It's a trope that I really enjoy, so I'm particularly harsh with it... but you know what? Lately, I haven't seen any books with it, so if that's what you want to read, you should go for it :)

Wendy - LOL, Wendy. Sorry! It would have made the B range if it could have kept my attention after Paris. But I really thought it lost steam at that point :(

Looking forward to your review, Wendy!

Samantha - I love stuffy hero, Samantha! Give it a go, you might enjoy it more than me :) It was definitively solid, but I just wanted it a bit more. As I told Ames, this is one of my favorite trope, so perhaps I was a bit too harsh ^_^;

Jade - Thanks Jade and welcome to Breezing Through!

What was interesting in this book was the two characters discussing their perception of love and romance. That made it interesting.

While opposites attract is a popular trope in romance, I feel it's been a while since I've read about the carefree heroine and stuffy hero :)

Alex - The mother has a really small role in the book, Alex. I think she appears in one particular scene and quite early in the book. if she was your reservation about the book, I say don't worry :)

Hilcia - LOL, indeed you do! Also, just to find out how YOU enjoy it :)

Leslie said...

Wonderful review ladies! Even with the C grades I'm still going to read this one. I like this trope and now I'm curious to see if I agree with you guys or Wendy. :)

nath said...

Leslie - I'm curious to find out too :) It was a nice read, I just wanted more.