We'll Always Have Paris
I love a good romantic comedy. Somehow a little silliness can work in them; things can get a little campy or over-the-top, but if the chemistry is there, audiences will still smile over it. We’ll Always Have Paris reminded me of a good rom com movie in book form. It’s humorous, not too demanding, and even if a little predictable, the leads work well together.
Clara Sterne works for Media Ochre, a small British production company, and she absolutely needs to get hotshot financial analyst Simon Valentine to agree to star in an upcoming documentary on romance. The company has already lined up a glamorous talk show host to be the pro-romance side and for contrast, they want someone more practical and more cynical about romance. As an analyst with a passion for microfinance, Simon has found himself a reluctant celebrity as his TV presentations on the economic situation have made finance suddenly a popular topic with female viewers. Clara is persistent and she also knows her job rides on being able to convince Simon to cooperate. So, when email and phone calls don’t work, she goes looking for him in person.
The initial meeting doesn’t go well, though Clara does catch Simon’s eye a bit more than he’d like to admit. Through a convoluted series of events, Clara ends up breaking her wrist while coming to the rescue and Simon finds himself somewhat obliged to go along with filming the documentary. As part of the filming, Simon, his co-presenter, and the film crew will visit Paris, a tropical beach, and the Scottish Highlands in order to film against different kinds of romantic backdrops. Simon is more than a little bit disdainful, but he goes along. The story takes place over the three filming trips and readers get to watch the evolving relationship between Simon and Clara as the filming happens.
Not surprisingly, more than a few outlandish things happen and far from being smooth, perfect and romantic, Simon finds himself out with a film crew on trips filled with hilarious mishaps. It is the unplanned craziness that makes the chemistry between the leads shine. The co-presenter is gorgeous and snooty, the other crew members are fun, and Clara absolutely brims over with good cheer and energy in contrast to Simon’s initially dour ways. Simon starts to unwind a bit as the film progresses, and it’s fun to watch him and Clara find common ground between them. Toward the beginning of the book, Simon spoke of how he wanted an easy relationship with someone similar to him, but it’s plain to see that instead of ending up with another levelheaded and restrained economist, he’s bound to end up with musical-loving, slightly madcap Clara.
Even though the plot feels rather predictable at times, it’s not stale. When reading, one has a feeling more of comfort or familiarity rather than of boredom. I knew things would go wrong, that the leads would find themselves thrown together by preposterous events and that there would probably be a silly, over-the-top declaration of love. However, there’s a warmth and a sense of real fun to the book that works. One gets the feeling that the author enjoyed dreaming this up, and it shows in the writing. The characters are perhaps not groundbreaking, but they’re enjoyable, and they have a chemistry that works. I enjoyed their interactions and dialogue. Occasionally, Clara’s antics wore on a me a little, but only a little.
This probably isn’t the first “fun, spirited woman catches eye of uptight, driven man” romance readers have ever seen. And it probably won’t be the last. However, this variation on the theme works and it’s fun. And that definitely made it worth my afternoon.