Author: Bess Greenfield
Review Rating: Five +Stars
Reviewer: Linda Hays-Gibbs
Genre:Historical Romantic Fantasy in Paris 1871
Passionate Sparks: an Endearing Romantic Jaunt
Olivier Valencourt, the conte de Chaumenay has a letter to deliver to his dead brother's lover. He is grieving and in pain from war injuries.The problem is he finds another woman living in her house raising the son of his brother, Etienne and his lover, Claudine Ardaunt. He is convinced she is a madwoman. She does nothing but lie to him.
Jeanne Delancy is using the name Jeanne Henri. She is such a close friend to Claudine that she entrusted her with the care of her young son Alex. Claudine's lover, Etienne broke her heart when he left her. She thinks this man is Claudine's lover because his name is Valencourt. She tells the stranger that Alex is her son and sends him away but she is worried he can see the boy is his because he looks so much like him. Olivier decides to follow her to see if she will lead him to Claudine. She is so beautiful that he can't control his thoughts and finds he is worried she is a low woman. He decides he needs to get Alex away from poverty and this horrible woman that frequents bars drawing pictures. She is poor and evidently selling her favors, which he would love to sample himself. He also sees he needs to ease the boy away from her gently.
Olivier makes a plan to offer her employment as an artist to decorate his home. He must also see where their attraction leads. He convinces her that she can't turn down the money.
Then he convinces her to bring Alex, her friend, Sylvie Barnett and her son Leo to chaperone and keep his lusts under control.
The trip is a great adventure for the boys and Jeanne can't refuse the money because they were hungry. She finds that she is attracted to this rich aristocrat but she is an American hiding from her parents. They thought her crazy and wanted to institutionalize her. She is very afraid.
She must keep Alex safe for Claudine's return. She still pretends to be Alex's mom so Olivier can't take him away from her care. She realizes he knows he has a better claim on the boy. She remains completely loyal to her friend throughout.
Her poverty is so evident when she sees where Olivier lives that she realizes Alex might be better off with his own family, even though she loves the boy more than she cares to admit. She realizes Claudine might be dead. Alex has become her family and loves her too but misses his mom.
This is such a sweet story of love and the personalities of these characters develop before your eyes. They become real to you and you do not want the story to end. They have flaws and fears but they overcome so much in a very turbulent time in France.
I will not give any more of the story away but there is so much more. The supporting characters grow too so there are several stories within the story. I was amazed and hope there is another to follow this one soon.
I gave the story Five Plus because it captivated me from the first page. The love scenes are so passionate and real. I also liked the fact that the hero was such a manly man. His story was just as tragic as Jeanne's but they outgrew the depression and despair to find their hopes and dreams. Great job Bess Greenfield for a story worth reading.