Today I’m excited to announce my first release of 2021!
Love & Other Lessons is a standalone contemporary romance featuring an American woman and an Englishman who meet in Paris. It’s a little bit fairy tale, a little bit Before Sunrise, a lot of learning how to love yourself and someone else with compassion and patience and passion.
I started out wanting to write something along the lines of a modern-day regency, and Love & Other Lessons is that, too, but, as is typical of the sort of “free range” way I write, the story took some twists and turns and became much more than that.
I like this one so much I’ve read it myself repeatedly in the months since I finished it–and I’m not talking about my editing reads. Usually after I’ve read one of my books again and again in the editing phase, I’m ready to set it aside. But this one keeps drawing me back to it, and I read it for pleasure, too.
Release day for Love & Other Lessons is Saturday, 2 January.
Preorder will be available Saturday, 12 December.
You can add it to your Goodreads TBR now.
Here’s the description:
After Cora Harlowe arrives home early one day and learns the life she’d been living was not as she’d believed, she escapes to Paris to regroup. She’s always wanted to visit the city and had hoped to honeymoon there. But things didn’t work out that way.
Now she’s alone in the City of Light, the City of Love, trying to decide if she can make an expatriate life work, or if she’s merely on a honeymoon alone.
Oliver Ward, a dual citizen of France and England, has been living in Paris for years, regularly entertaining his assorted American friends from his days at university in the States. The youngest son of an English marquess, he’s been living the self-indulgent life of the idly rich, but lately that life has lost much of its luster, and he knows he needs to do, and be, more. To be better. Trouble is, he doesn’t know how.
Cora and Oliver meet on a tour of the Eiffel Tower. The attraction is instantaneous, and they spend an evening together made for fairy tales. But they will both have to learn who they are for themselves, and for each other, before their tale can find its happy ending.
And for a teaser, a scene from Chapter 3, when Cora and Oliver first set eyes on each other. It doesn’t go well … but the day is young:
That evening, after the flower shop closed, Cora took the Métro to the Eiffel Tower. A heavy bank of clouds had rushed in during the afternoon, and the gentle autumn breeze of the morning had become an occasionally brisk gust. The forecast suggested the chance for intermittent showers, but the tower was still open, and Cora meant not to let another day in Paris pass by without reaching the top.
The tour office was a few blocks away from the tower itself, and she studied her phone as she walked. A single raindrop plashed onto the screen. Cora looked up and waved a finger at the grey sky. “Don’t you do it,” she warned in English. Then, in case the sky gods above Paris spoke French, she added, “Ne le fais pas!”
Just in case, she pulled her bright yellow raincoat from her messenger bag and slipped it on.
Following the map on her way to the tour office, Cora arrived on the correct corner and turned. From this vantage, she saw no obvious sign for the office, but she trusted in Google Maps and sallied forth.
A few steps later, she squeaked as she was suddenly surrounded by men. A band of them surged around her. They were laughing and singing with what seemed to be drunken enthusiasm. One of them took hold of her shoulders as she stumbled and steadied her, “Pardonez-nous, mademoiselle soleil,” he said as he let her go and passed by.
His voice was deep, and his French was oddly accented. He grinned over his shoulder as he and his group—for all the commotion, she was surprised to see only four of them—moved on ahead of her.
He was beautiful. Tall, with lush brown hair with an alluring bit of wave, a slightly darker beard trimmed to a fashionable scruff, and the palest eyes she’d ever seen. He’d called her Miss Sun—for her bright yellow raincoat, she guessed—but his smile was as brilliant as if he had captured the star itself and hidden it in his mouth.
That man was the kind of beautiful that one couldn’t help but admire and feel drawn to, no matter one’s orientation or commitments, or brokenhearted disdain for men—the whole lot of them.
He and his buddies were dressed similarly, in jeans and hoodies. The beautiful man had a well-worn black leather jacket on over his.
Two of his friends wore baseball caps, which would have placed them at once as American, if their ribald chatter hadn’t done so already. But him—she didn’t know. Probably American, too, just by the law of averages.
It didn’t matter. Beautiful as he was, he and his friends were acting like idiots, taking up the whole of the sidewalk and shouting and laughing at each other as they sauntered on. Also the singing.
It also didn’t matter because the very last thing on Cora’s wish list for her life, below things like root canals and gyno exams, was a man. She’d caught Brandon hardly more than two weeks ago—and honestly, in the pantheon of Cora’s romantic relationships, he was the last but hardly the worst. She was terrible at picking men.
About halfway down the street, the roving band of drunk American males stopped and filed in through a shop door. Cora checked her phone and estimated, with some sense of weariness, that they had gone into the tour office.
When she got there herself, she saw that, indeed, they had. With a great sigh, not sure whether she hoped the beautiful man would be in her tour group or not, Cora pushed her hood back and went into the office.
She stood in line right behind them as they checked in. It was the beautiful man who did all the talking, and his French was perfect, with that non-French accent she couldn’t quite place.
Then, finally, he spoke in English to his friends—with an absolutely gorgeous, ultra posh British accent.
She was staring, he was too beautiful not to fill her eyes with the sight of him, but then he looked her way and made eye contact.
He smiled directly at her, full force, and Cora’s knees actually went weak.
“Le soleil apporte son propre arc-en-ciel, je vois,” he said. The blend of French with the English accent was like a purr.
What he’d said was The sun brings its own rainbow, I see. It took her a moment to understand, but then she put her hand on her hair. He was talking about her oil-slick color. A rainbow through her dark hair.
That was … a really good line. A little cheesy, sure, but extremely effective.
Her whole face, throat, and chest felt hot. God, she was doing a full-body blush.
To save herself from doing anything really embarrassing—more embarrassing than the bright red her face must have become—she said, in English, “You should turn that down before you blow a circuit and darken the whole septième arrondissement.”
He chuckled—God, how could that make him hotter?—and said, “Ahh, an American.” He held out his hand. “I’m Oliver.”
Before she could decide whether to shake his hand and give him her name, one of his baseball-capped friends shoved himself between her and the most beautiful Oliver ever to bear the name. “Hold up, bro. Hold. The fuck. Up. You don’t get to pull a single. This is a group vacation. We are a team. Like the Musketeers. One for all and all for one. Bros before hos.” He turned to Cora. His cap was from the Cincinnati Reds. The slur in his speech was from beer. “Excuse me, honey,” he said and then actually belched in her face. “The grownups are talking.”
Cora could only gape at him. Wow. Wow. Woooow. That was a serious dick move. A series of serious dick moves. The kind of dick moves that only real dicks made. Habitual dicks.
“Enough, mate,” Oliver said and nudged his friend out of the way.
But it was entirely too late to salvage that interaction.
It was her turn to check in. As she did so, Oliver came up beside her and said, his voice low and secret beside her ear, “I apologize for my friend. He’s had a bit to drink this afternoon.”
She took a purple sticker from the office clerk and stuck it on her raincoat. Then she turned to Oliver and saw that he, too, had a purple sticker. They were in the same group.
“By the smell of you, you all have,” she said to him. “But it’s not my concern.”
“Are you going to give me your name?” he asked.
“I can’t think why I would,” she answered and walked around him. She pushed past his friends, who regarded her with avid curiosity, if a bit blurred by drink.
Ugly Americans indeed.
©2020 Susan Fanetti