September 6, 2019
Genre/Categories/Setting: Romantic Historical Fiction, Royalty, Monaco (the French Riviera)
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Grace Kelly, Hollywood actress, and Prince Rainier of Monaco meet in the 1950s at the Cannes Film Festival, and their story is the backdrop of this imagined love story of a perfumer, Sophie Duval, and a British press photographer, James Henderson. As Sophie develops an exclusive perfume for Grace Kelly and James is an assigned photographer, the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer is the setting for the bittersweet and sometimes star-crossed romance of Sophie and James.
The subtitle needs some explanation in that this is a story INSPIRED by the Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier wedding; the wedding is simply a backdrop and not the primary story.
Early Amazon Rating (September): 4.7 Stars
“To be a parfumeur is to be a keeper of memories, Sophie. Every scent will remind you of something, or someone.”
The Genre: Sometimes I want to read a non World War histfic! This is a perfect title for those times when you want an easy reading historical fiction without the heartbreak of war.
The Setting: If you love sense of place and vivid and exquisite descriptive details of setting, you will appreciate Meet Me in Monaco. The “H Team” (Hazel and Heather) write in a way that transports readers to beautiful Cote d’Azur (the French Riviera).
Themes: Meet Me in Monaco includes typical themes of a slow-burn love story (not romance…in my mind there’s a difference) including elements of star crossed lovers, and also themes of becoming an independent woman, carving out a career, parent/child relationships and obligations, taking risks to follow a dream, unhealthy relationships, and soul mates.
***SPOILER ALERT: the following paragraph contains spoilers….please skip it if you haven’t read the story and you want to avoid spoilers
The Story Structure: (SPOILERS) The setting, historical backdrop, slow-burn romance, and characters are my favorite parts of the story; however, the twenty-six-year time gap was frustrating for me. Part II ends with the Kelly/Rainier wedding and Part III begins twenty-six years later at the funeral of Grace Kelly. The transition was abrupt and I reread to find out what had just happened! Even though the transition is separated by a Part III page break, I read two pages before I realized where I was in history. I wish the transition had been smoother. But more than that, I was left with many questions about what happened in the lives of the two main characters. It didn’t seem realistic to me that in light of their love story that they didn’t make some contact with each other despite the circumstances. The ending redeemed the story, but I felt dissatisfied with the unrealistic lack of communication during the unaccounted for twenty-six years. This falls into the category of personal preference and doesn’t affect my recommendation, although it did affect my star rating.
Recommended: I enthusiastically recommend Meet Me in Monaco for readers of romantic historical fiction (with a side of Hollywood glamor), for those who are interested in the imagined details of the story-tale wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, for fans of the “H Team,” and definitely for book clubs or for those looking for a vacation read. It’s a mostly gentle and quietly engaging reading adventure. Gaynor and Webb are favorite, auto-buy authors, and I will definitely read their next story!
My Rating: 4 Stars
***Edited 8/25/21 to add: If you’re interested in a biographical historical fiction story of Princess Grace you might like The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher.
If you’re interested in royal weddings, another imagined story involving the wedding of Queen Elizabeth is The Gown by Jennifer Robson.
Meet the Authors, Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Hazel Gaynor is the acclaimed New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY, was an Irish Times and Globe and Mail bestseller, and it was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she published THE COTTINGLEY SECRET, and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (co-written with Heather Webb). Both novels hit bestseller lists, and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award. Hazel’s most recent novel, THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller. Her latest novel MEET ME IN MONACO (co-written with Heather Webb) will be published in July 2019. For more information, visit http://www.hazelgaynor.com
Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of six historical novels set in France, including her latest Last Christmas in Paris, which became a bestseller and also won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR award. In 2015, her novel about famed sculptors Camille Claudel and Rodin called Rodin’s Lover was a Goodreads Top Pick. Next, check out her novel inspired by Grace Kelly’s royal wedding called Meet Me in Monaco, co-written with bestselling author Hazel Gaynor. To date, Heather’s novels have sold in a dozen countries worldwide. She is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.
Is Meet Me in Monaco on your TBR?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
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Next Tuesday, I’ll be reviewing The Vanished Bride (ARC) by Bella Ellis
(an imagined story of the famous Bronte Sisters before they became published authors).
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