Blame it on Paris

Jennifer Greene
2008, Contemporary Romance
HQN, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373772785

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Warm

Blame It on Paris is a light-hearted contemporary that begins in, believe it or not, Paris. A couple falls in love, but will they be able to withstand the obstacles and pressures of a normal life once they leave that enchanted city? This was actually the first work by Greene that I’ve read, but I’ll be reading more. The writing style was fun and witty and had the ending not petered out, the grade would have been higher.

Kelly Rochard is about to tie the knot, but before she does, she goes to Paris to find herself. She knows that her deceased father lived there and she’d like to walk the streets that he did. But, right off the bat she is mugged and all of her money and important papers stolen, including the only thing she has of her father’s. As she copes with the shock of the attack and the confusion of trying to communicate with the authorities, an attractive man wearing a college sweater from her hometown comes on the scene.

Will Maguire moved to Paris several years ago, trying to throw all responsibility out the window. Ever since he was young, Will has been pressured by his family to take over the family business, which he has no desire to do. So, he moved away and tried to be a complete loafer. Helping a beautiful woman in need and taking on her problems does not fit into his slacker mentality, but Will just can’t walk away. Not only does he become her translator, he pulls her out of the dive she is staying in and brings her to his place. Sparks fly and the two immediately begin a love affair.

The two are incredibly attracted to each other, but they’re both bending major personal rules to be with each other. Kelly has always been a good girl, a rule-follower, but now she’s having a torrid foreign affair. As they live together for two weeks, Will starts to fall in love, something that definitely brings on responsibility. This only grows when Kelly goes home and he decides to follow her, thus forcing himself to deal with his family issues.

The story starts off great. The writing is funny, cute, and clever. I found myself wondering why I don’t read more light-hearted contemporaries. Kelly and Will are very sweet and seem comforting in a way – they laugh together and enjoy themselves, they live in his charming apartment and eat most of their meals in bed. The comfort factor might also come from the fact that the writing evoked all kinds of fond memories of Paris – croissants, the Seine, Notre Dame, etc. The first part of the book was indeed fantasy-like. Actually, the plot was very similar to Forget Paris – a perfect relationship in the city of romance that becomes much more complicated when back in the “real world.”

But then the storyline goes downhill and never fully recovers. I saw a pretty clear path to the couple’s happiness, but trivial and contrived problems interfere with their relationship. The final third felt padded - with manufactured conflict - and the book could have ended a lot sooner. Kelly also started to bother me. She has this gorgeous, wonderful guy who constantly sets out to win her over with romantic, adorable gestures, but she keeps coming up with flimsy excuses or nagging ultimatums to keep them apart. By the end, I didn’t think that she was worthy of such a great guy. Will also makes a decision that I vehemently opposed and that seemed to completely contradict who he is and what he wants out of life.

While the conclusion of the book disappointed me, I was impressed by the author’s writing style. The first half read like an entirely different work and I found it full of wit and charm. Taken as a whole, Blame It on Paris comes out better than average and I will be looking out for other offerings by this author that I can recommend.

-- Andi Davis

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