Also by this author: Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe, Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe, The Bookshop on the Corner, Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe
Series: The Little Paris Collection #3
Also in this series: The Little Bookshop on the Seine
on 14th March 2018
Genres: Chicklit, Humour, Love & Romance
What is French for falling in love?
When Del leaves small town America to compete in a perfume competition in Paris, she thinks it is just the next step on her five-year-plan. It’s an exciting opportunity. What started out as just a dream for Del and her twin sister is nearly in her grasp. If she wins this competition, they are on their way to opening their very own perfume boutique!
Arriving in Paris, watching the sun glinting off the Seine and wandering the Champs-Elysees, Del discovers the most perfect perfumery she’s ever seen. Yet, as the competition dawns Del realises that whilst she might have had the best nose in her small village, her competitors seem to know more than she could ever have dreamed. This competition isn’t going to be easy…
Del has the romance of Paris to sweep her away from her worries, but as the competition heats up, so does her desire for that which she cannot have! If only the dashing owner Sébastien didn’t smell so seductive, look so handsome and make her heart flutter like it never has before. They say love smells as sweet as a red rose in bloom, but Del would tell anyone that true love can’t be bottled – it’s beautiful and unique to everyone…even herself. With everything on the line for her future, can Del really let a little attraction get in the way of securing her dreams?
Excusez-moi, out of the way, please. Ooh la la, these are heavy.’
I could smell the woman before I could see her. Her perfume was an intense mélange of sultry fig bursting with the intense sweetness that comes with ripe fruit.
‘Bonjour, bonjour, coming through.’ It sounded like she was barreling people out of the way as she stomped noisily down the hall looking for her room, our room. I held my breath for a moment. Did she always make such a loud entrance?
A few moments later the door flew open and there she stood.
‘Del!’ she said, launching at me, hugging me to her as if we were long lost friends, squishing the breath from my lungs. ‘I’m Clementine, and I’ve ‘eard all about you. The American girl with the best nose in the business.’ When she freed me, I gulped for air, before taking in my roommate. She was exquisite with her voluptuous figure, formfitting dress and heavily rouged cheeks. Next to her curvaceous body, I felt suddenly boyish with my straight up-and-down physique.
My mousy brown waves and more naturally made-up face were no match for her cascading blonde curls, bright blue doe eyes, and bee stung scarlet lips. Her style was quite incredible, almost burlesque in its extravagance. I was no slouch in the fashion department, I followed trends just like the next girl but Clementine was something else. It took guts to dress so outrageously, and pull it off.
‘Bonjour! I love your outfit,’ I said, giving her a wide smile.
She paid no heed to the compliment, instead shaking her head and sighing theatrically. ‘This?’ She pointed to her hourglass figure, swathed in ruby red velvet. ‘I have a little…’ow you say, addiction to the cherry clafoutis. Nothing can cure me of it except another bite of the sweetness itself.’ She tutted. ‘French women don’t get fat…? That’s what is said, non? Pah! French women can do whatever the ‘ell they like! Fat, skinny, square, triangle, I don’t care! No one shall dictate to me! You know my maman?’
Of course I didn’t, but that had no bearing on the story as she continued: ‘Well, she says I’ll never get married if I eat the way I do. Says I’m not a real Parisian with my appetites! I should show restraint.’ She reeled back as if it was a dirty word. ‘But why? Why should I deny myself pleasure? A man will surely love all of me, if he’s the right man.’ She patted the soft swell of her belly. ‘And until then I’ll eat whatever I please, whenever I please.’
Another girl, with vivid red hair straightened to a shine sashayed past, stopping to lean on the door jamb. ‘It’s not a matter of depriving oneself, Clementine, it’s simply a matter of balance.’ The redhead conveyed in one long look that she thought Clementine was on a slippery slope to imbalance. The pair obviously knew each other, but the girl had an English accent.
‘Pah,’ Clementine said. ‘That’s why these girls are always so misérable.’ She waved her French polished nails at the redhead. ‘They’re hungry.’
My mind had to work overtime to make sense of Clementine’s hastily delivered, emphatic and heavily accented monologue – and to keep my laughter in check. She was so dramatic and more overt than the Parisian women I’d come into contact with so far.
The English girl rolled her eyes and stuck out her hand to me. ‘I’m Kathryn, from London. You’ll get used to Clementine, she behaves as if all the world is a stage, that’s all.’
I laughed, liking both women on sight. ‘How do you two know each other?’
Clementine gave an airy shrug. ‘Kathryn lived in Paris when she took a perfumery class here a million years ago. Back then she ate the cherry clafoutis and she was a lot ‘appier, I can tell you that.’
‘I studied here a few years back, but Clem would have you believe I’m in my twilight years or something. I might have imbibed more back then but people mature, they grow up. Well some of us do.’ She gave Clementine a pointed stare.
You could sense their comradery even though they mocked one another, something that was more for my benefit.
‘I’m Del, from Michigan, America.’ Not Del’n’Jen. Jen’n’Del. Gosh, that felt weird.
‘We know,’ Kathryn said, her eyes twinkling. ‘And rumour has it, you’re one to watch out for.’