Title: The French Lesson
Author: Robyn Elliot
Publisher: Firehorse Publishing
Length: 407 Pages
At a Glance: I was conflicted about this one. Romantic clichés abound, and I would have gone through it with a red marker and cut the constant repetition, but ultimately, this is a good romantic read.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Daniel Peter Hastings, London’s most unlikely but beautiful barrister, finds himself waiting longer than usual for his coffee order one morning. However, he certainly doesn’t expect his life to be turned upside down by the stunning, arrogant French waiter who finally turns up with his cafe latte (large). Danny soons discovers, nevertheless, that Stephane is happy to offer another kind of service that might just change Danny’s life for the better. If he can get over his nerves, his shyness and his hang-ups, that is. And Stephane, super confident and sexy, is trying to work out the crazy Englishman he thinks he might just be falling for, to his surprise. Considering that the path to true love for Danny and Stef has quite a few passionate bumps and grinds along the way, could Stephane’s hidden past in Paris prove the biggest ‘le bump’ of them all.
A romance that spans the capitals of the UK and France, these two guys do their best to promote the entente cordiale by falling in lust and love in equal measure…
Review: Ok folks, just a heads up—I was conflicted about this one. Am I just too American to appreciate the European sensibilities contained in this story? Or does it not have anything to do with that, and this story just provokes strong feelings from me in the like and dislike columns?
Daniel Hastings is a barrister by trade, and a closet artist. His father was a barrister, and Danny builds his life around being as good at the law as his father was. Unfortunately for him, he also suffers from debilitating OCD, anxiety and stress. Having a panic attack at his favorite coffee shop is not his idea of a good time, but the waiter who takes care of him definitely helps. Danny is a heartwarming character. He snags you right from the get-go, and you find yourself rooting for him to find a way to be true to himself and his art.
At his core, Stephane is a care giver. He is decidedly French, and he has an innate need to fix the lives of those he loves. He doesn’t know at first what the issues are with the neurotic Englishman, but he knows that he is drawn to him like no other man has ever drawn him before. Stephane has issues: his life has imploded and he has run to his brother’s coffee shop in England to get away, and sort out what and where he wants his life to go. Falling for Danny is not a part of his plan, but neither can help himself.
“Danny’s a painter…. but then you know that.” Annelise could have bitten her tongue, but the words slipped out into the ether to do their work. Stephane’s eyes moved from her, and quickly back to Danny, who lowered his to the table. Oops, thought Annelise, they haven’t even got to the getting to know you stage, and they’re ogling each other. She corrected herself. No, definitely not ogling. But gazing? For England. And France, of course. Yes, this was definitely one entente cordiale that might be worth something.
Now to the conflicted part… I can split this book between what I liked and what I didn’t like quite easily.
What I didn’t like:
Ever had a book that made you mad, like throw your kindle across the room mad? Ahhhhh, that is this book. I finished it and even though it ends with a HEA, how we got there didn’t sit well with me.
Robyn Elliot can be a bit wordy. I mean, why use ten words to describe something when fifty will do better? And then you can repeat yourself, and repeat yourself, and repeat yourself.
Stephane never quite quit treating Danny like he couldn’t stand on his own two feet. I get that Danny has issues, but he did pretty well for someone with these issues, and he shouldn’t have been treated with kid gloves or like a child.
And why is it Danny’s responsibility to chase after Stephane? Oooooh, this one chapped me badly. Why are all the people in Danny’s life—after Stephane has rejected and crushed him—so soundly convinced that it is HIS place to chase after the one who did it? Katherine is a COW. An absolute cow. I mean, with friends like her, who needs enemies? The barbs she throws at Danny when he is at his lowest, and she is supposed to be his best friend??? Why aren’t Danny’s family and cow friend Katherine staunchly on Danny’s side? And, since it was Stephane with the issues, and the secret, and the lying and the running away, why aren’t they trying to convince Stephane that he should make concessions for Danny?
See, mad. So, mad. Ok, I just had to get that off my chest.
What I liked:
This is a romance, pure and simple. Get past all the extra, and it is a story of fate bringing together two men in an unconventional way, and manipulating their lives so that not only do they get together, they have the foundation to stay together—despite themselves. Love that!
The MCs grow markedly; they mature together and apart. At first you think that Danny, with all his emotional/mental issues, is the one who will have to adapt the most, but quickly you realize that Stephane will hold the majority of the burden to bear in the evolution process. This book brings home the fact that our life choices are OURS, and we have to own up to them and take responsibility for them and come to the realization that they have affected others we care about. Even choices made in good faith, with all the right intentions, have ramifications we have to live with. The fact that Stephane finally matures to the point that he can accept his own actions is a major feat for him.
Danny is an incredibly endearing character. He has an inner strength to him that he draws upon to be able to deal with Stephane. He has a devotion to the people in his life, and that includes Stephane, that borders on naïve but is incredibly sweet.
Yes, there are a few too many old Hollywood tropes in here—the romantic clichés abound—but they didn’t bother me because I think the author was going for old world romantic in her writing. Think An American in Paris overtones, with gay men.
Everyone was looking at them. Serge, the friend who had loaned Danny his apartment, other friends, including Katherine, they were all looking at two people who were evidently so much in love that the world around them seemed… well, a bit irrelevant, really.
Ultimately, this is a good romantic read. I enjoyed the characters. I laughed. I was sad. I got mad and frustrated, but I was invested in the story. It was a treat of European sensibilities and old romantic charm. Would I have gone through it with a red marker and cut the constant repetition, if I were an editor? Absolutely, but I can disagree with a story and still admit that it was a good one.
You can buy The French Lesson here: