Review: French Summer by Lise GoldSweet summer romance, perfect holiday reading.

I love reading a book set in a place or country I’ve never visited, especially when the author does as good a job as Gold in describing the landscape, the people, and the culture. It’s the setting of this book, the south of France, that really adds some magic to the sweet story between Natalie and Lena.

Natalie is newly-divorced, with her ex-husband buying her out of the Chicago company they started together years ago. She’s looking for some space to clear her mind and work out what she’s going to do with herself now, so she rents a villa in Valbonne, using some of her new wealth to have the place all to herself. Well, apart from the caretaker, Lena, who lives in an annex on the property.

Lena runs a landscaping business alongside her role as caretaker of the villa and its estate, owns a cute dog called Gumbo, and she’s also American but has lived in France for a number of years. She likes her uncomplicated life—the occasional fling with a local or tourist keeping her sex life ticking along, but the last thing she’s looking for is love.

While it’s obvious from the start that a romance will develop between the two women, I really appreciated the pace with which Gold made that happen. As a result, it comes across as perfectly natural, as both women have a lot to learn about themselves—and each other—along the way. Natalie is rather spoiled, and there’s some eye-rolling moments where she acts like the typical brash tourist that made me chuckle. Lena is cocky, almost too much so in the beginning, and it’s fun to watch her soften as her attraction for Natalie grows. Natalie has the bigger ‘journey’ of them both, and that’s deftly written. My only con in the whole piece is a scene involving Natalie’s ex in the middle of the book that didn’t seem necessary at all, but apart from that the story flows beautifully along. The conflict, when it comes, is also natural and I’m glad Gold took it down that route—it would have been tempting for the author to make it all easy for Natalie, but giving her a dilemma to face up to made the last third of the book something I could really get my teeth into as a reader.

The two women are lovely, overall—I empathized with them both, and their respective journeys. Gumbo’s a little star in his own right, and honestly, all the descriptions of the countryside and cafes, and food and wine, made me just want to hop on a plane to Nice and experience it for myself.

A perfect book for reading while lying on a sun lounger in your own back yard or by a pool somewhere warm and sunny, or equally for a cold winter’s day when you need to be metaphorically transported to a place just like that!

Get it on Apple Books