Since her father’s Nicholas Sparks–like novels have been turned into blockbuster movies and he now has the means (and status) to give her culture, Anna Oliphant finds herself uprooted from her Atlanta home to become the newest senior at the School of America in Paris. Her seemingly enviable situation is offset by her inability to speak French, her fear of venturing off school property and a possible romantic interest back home. But then the young film critic meets gorgeous, heart-stopping classmate Étienne St. Clair, who has a sexy British accent and offers to show her around Paris—and who also has a serious girlfriend at a local university. Perkins’s debut surpasses the usual chick-lit fare with smart dialogue, fresh characters and plenty of tingly interactions, all set amid pastries, parks and walks along the Seine in arguably the most romantic city in the world. Sarah Dessen fans will welcome another author who gracefully combines love and realism, as Anna’s story is as much about finding and accepting herself as it is about finding love. Très charmante.
This debut novel boasts a strong narrative drive, deft scene setting, and isn’t bad at delivering catch-your-breath suspense, either. Beitia’s mystery starts, in classic fashion, with a lady vanishing: Lily smuggles her boyfriend, Albert, into her room and spends the night with him, but when he wakes up, he finds Lily gone, with only her cell phone and bag left behind. Albert quickly becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance and teams up with Lily’s acerbic sister to find his missing girlfriend. The story careens among three different plots and time lines: Lily’s disappearance, the search for Lily, and what happens just before the surprising climax. This splintered approach is a good mirror for Albert’s obsessive, longing-filled ruminations about Lily, as well as for Lily’s own mind, which had been disrupted by a mysterious accident months before.
Hooray for Stephanie and Sara!