The first thing that strikes me upon finishing this book, which I did over lunch yesterday, is how perfect, and important, telling it in a reflective past tense is.
Ian, a computer programmer from San Francisco with a wife and two teenage boys, gets sent to Paris to work on a long project; setting up a digital museum and corresponding storage for the sprawling collections of famous French fashion house, Môti. He starts to investigate the city and slowly becomes friends with Luca Sparks, who he later finds is one of the most famous fashion photographers in Paris, who shot not only for Môti but all over the world, and has since given up taking pictures. Pictures that Ian keeps coming across in his work each day.
I really liked this, a lot. It’s very different from Brothers – which I also loved (and why I was delighted to get this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review) – as its tinged with sadness throughout. You are aware for this romance to have the ending you think, that Ian has to completly overhaul and rethink his life, and this from a man who’s had only one homosexual encounter in his youth that he’s very carefully buried away.
Things I really liked about this book:
– the characters are older. They’re not in their early twenties. I think it’s specified (I can’t recall) but I pitch them in their late 30’s/early 40’s. And the cover is lovely; classic and gallic, and it represents some that age/close to that age, instead of most romances where the characters are that age and the cover is represented by models in their early twenties (this BUGS THE HELL OUT OF ME).
– I really liked the slow burn of their relationship. How it seems like a friendship and you realise that not only are they slowly falling in love, but that their outlook on the world is being changed too, Ian’s in particular.
– This is a book in love with Paris and photography, a love that is skilfully brought alive by the author. I’ve been to Paris twice and I could feel myself walking the streets with Ian and Luca easily.
– That the book is from Ian’s POV and that has interesting ramifications later in the book (it’s just a minor thing – not a huge difference in the POV – but simple things like Ian having misunderstood something and it being explained to him later, were nice little suprises/friction).
– The supporting characters were well drawn and interesting, in particular Ian’s teenage boys, and Luca’s friend Michele.
– The ending, how it’s done, the last couple of pages and the last paragraph. I won’t spoil it.
These are men in love, with all of the beauty, and seriousness, and disruption it can sometimes bring. In short, another absolute winner from Bardsley! I must also get a review organised for Brothers too.
Also, for those that it’s important to you (it’s not to me, although it’s a nice change from some romance which can be very sex heavy, something which can turn me off at times) – there’s no explicit sex in this book (same with Brothers) and it suits the prose really well.
[Postscript: The book appears to be released exclusively on Bold Strokes Books today, with all other retailers following on the 12th July]