I won this novel in a contest posted on the Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books blog, written by my lovely Heidenkind – be sure to visit and explore, it’s so totally worth it! I would also like to thank the author, Jo Kessel, for her kindness and patience ;).
When Danni’s best friend, Amber, just 26, dies of aneurism Danni knows she must change her life in a drastic way. Either that or she will wallow in self-pity forever, feeling completely miserable and guilty till the end of her life. That’s how Danni ditches her steady posh boyfriend, Hugo, moves out of his luxurious flat, finds herself a job in French Alps as a ski rep and, soon enough, lands in bed with a new lover.
Still there’s a catch: her chosen one, Olivier du Pape, the most gorgeous specimen of French ski guides around, is already married to a constantly and conveniently absent flight attendant. Aren’t the best ones always already taken? What can be done- only Olivier can make Danni weak at the knees as soon as he looks at her or kisses her. On the other hand Danni clearly remembers how Amber made her promise right before her death that she’d never engage herself in anything as hideous as an affair with a married man. Poor Amber knew firsthand what it meant for all parties involved, especially children– her father had left her mom for another woman. However, Olivier and his French wife have no kids. Does it mean Danni can go full steam ahead and claim her man? Is a ‘happily ever after’ in such a situation possible at all?
Overall I liked this novel despite myself – if you wonder why I must add that it is, after all, a contemporary romance, a genre I’ve had huge issues with before. This one was a bit different, though. The first person narration meant I got to know Danni quite well before the plot hit that big love knot with Olivier and she was a good story teller and a pretty normal, likeable girl I sympathized with instantly. I loved the fact that her life didn’t consist of a string of romantic conquests and conundrums; like a real young woman she had time for family and work, for French manicure, chit-chat and friendship so it was nicely balanced. Of course, being 26 and single, she was actively looking for Mr. Right but it was only understandable, especially after the sudden death of her best friend, Amber. Nothing makes you want to profit from every single moment of your life like a premature death of somebody close to you.
I also liked the fact, after 11 years of being with Hugo and ditching him, Olivier wasn’t Danni’s first crush. I admired her courage – you have to admit breaking up after such a long time takes some guts. Still if you want something you’ve never had, more often than not you have to do something you’ve never done. Danni knew, deep down, that, although Hugo was a great friend of hers he was less than decent as a boyfriend and a lover. She described their relationship in great detail and as honestly as only a modern woman would do – despite shacking up with Hugo and sleeping with him on a regular basis poor Danni never had an orgasm. Not one single time. And here I winced a bit for the first time because our heroine jumped straight from the absence of orgasms into the idea of a break-up. Hello? You’ve known a boy for eleven years, you like him a lot, he takes you to Cannes for romantic weekends, you are an adult, modern woman – what stops you from talking to him honestly about your problem, suggesting a routine change or even a visit to a specialist who can teach you both how to spice things up in bed? The way it was presented it seemed to me that it had nothing to do with the orgasms or lack thereof; Danni had given up on poor Hugo way earlier than she was supposed to do, mainly because her mother was so enamoured with the idea of her daughter marrying a rich, handsome and successful barrister. With the emphasis on ‘rich’ and ‘successful’.
Ok, so Danni moves on, goes to the Alps, sleeps first with Rod and then with Olivier and has her orgasms no problem, as her mum cannot see and express her opinion about her partners. So far so good. Unfortunately, the balance which made this novel so refreshingly real at first, was somehow lost in the second part. There were moments when I could completely forget that Danni and her new friend and fellow ski rep, Gina, were actually working; it seemed that both girls just enjoyed perhaps not exactly luxurious but certainly hassle-free holiday abroad, their sole focus on skiing, finding a lover and having fun. Mind you it is just my second carping – not bad for a romance book, right?
Then the troubles in mountainous paradise started and my interest was rekindled – would Danni choose the right way or the easy way out? What about Olivier – was he really in love with her or was he just having fun, no matter whether with or without his wife’s consent? I don’t want to spoil you; just let me tell that, unfortunately, the ending followed most of common romance clichés. Pity because, with such a good beginning, I expected something better.
It wasn’t a bad romance book but it could have been much better if only the author steered clear of some patently cheesy options in the second half. Still, I don’t regret reading it and, in my humble and biased opinion Jo Kessel has a lot of potential as an author.