Your ticket, a passport validated for Europe by the State Department, and Portuguese and French tourist visas, he said, made out to Claire Harris. But, you realize that after you land in Lisbon, you are on your own. This is not an official operation. These are only papers with stamps. If something goes wrong, not only have I never heard of you, Claire, no one else will have either. – from The Last Time I Saw Paris, page 16 –
Claire Harris is living in New York, married to a wealthy and powerful man she does not love, and hiding a secret about her past. War has come to Europe, but Claire seems blissfully unaware of the dangers when she makes the decision to flee her unhappy marriage and search for her lover in Paris. Once in France, she is confronted with the Nazi war machine bearing down on Paris – nothing is as she thought it would be and she is forced to take work at a flower shop that supplies flowers for huge events orchestrated by the Nazis. Soon Claire finds her life in danger and turns unwillingly to a group of French resistance fighters where betrayal lurks behind the semblance of safety, and love is to be found in the most unusual of places. Claire will discover a strength she can only imagine, and risk everything to save those closest to her.
The Last Time I Saw Paris is a mix of historical fiction, romance, women’s fiction and suspense – and a surprisingly wonderful read. Lynn Sheene establishes herself as an author to watch in this debut novel about love, redemption, and courage during wartime. Claire is a fabulous character – smart, tough, and inventive – she is a strong woman who starts out as rich and superficial, and grows into a gritty, likable dynamo. Although at times Sheene stretches reality, I still found myself admiring Claire’s gumption and believing in her courage.
The suspense in this novel grows with every turn of the page, and the romance is sizzling. I stayed up far into the night reading. Every time I thought I would just read to the end of the chapter and stop, I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next…and so, I would literally find myself falling asleep with the book open on my chest. Sheene’s sense of pacing is spot on. She knows how to build her characters and plot a novel to keep the pages turning.
Readers who think they are just getting an historical romance when they pick up The Last Time I Saw Paris, should think again. Yes, the romance is an integral part of the story, but Sheene has written a book which will also appeal to those readers who like suspense. Author Katherine Neville compared this novel to Casablanca, and I think that is a good comparison. Rich in character and description, readers will find themselves thoroughly immersed in the Paris Occupation.
Highly entertaining, this is a novel I can recommend. I’ll be keeping my eye out for future books by this talented author.
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FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided this book for review on my blog.