Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. She is less than thrilled about boarding school in Paris - until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, he has it all - including a serious girlfriend. Will Anna get her French kiss?
Yeeeah, I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to buy this book, beyond the fact that about five people have now recommended it to me personally (people keep recommending The Book Thief and I've literally no desire to read that one). It's not my usual kind of book. I tend to shy away from anything that is billed as primarily a romance. It's just not my thing.
However, I actually enjoyed this book. I can't say I loved it or even really liked it, but I did enjoy reading it. Mostly. The strange thing to me is that, actually, it's not really just about a romance. It's about Anna Oliphant, a senior from Atlanta whose father sends her to spend a year at boarding school in Paris. She's not exactly happy about it. A good seventy per cent of the book is about the other aspects of Anna's life - her home, her family, her friends, her education. The remaining thirty per cent is her falling in love with St. Clair, but it's not in blocks, it's all muddled in together, which is exactly what I would have wanted if I'd thought about what I really wanted from this book.
Anna's moving to a strange country where she doesn't know a single person. And she's not going in her freshman year, either, which means that she's leaving behind friends and she'll be attempting to fit into existing friendship groups in Paris. As someone who spent a semester studying in the US during uni, I related to this quite strongly, though I was lucky enough not to have to worry about a language barrier. There were a lot of things about Anna's family and friends that resonated strongly with me, and these were the parts of the book that I enjoyed the best.
Saying that, there's nothing wrong with the romance, and I appreciated the fact that it was diluted by all the other things going on. There aren't whole chapters dedicated to talking about St. Clair's hair or voice or whatever, which was good because I wasn't that bothered about him. He seemed okay, kind of a jerk if you ask me, and I didn't exactly swoon for him. Honestly, I think he wasn't so much hot as he was just the hottest guy around. He had comparative hotness. And yes, that is definitely a real, academic term that I can use in a professional review.
I enjoyed this story and I liked the writing, though I was unsettled by the occasional drifts into what I consider unnecessary melodrama, but overall it was good. I wanted to see more of Meredith, and I wouldn't have minded seeing a little more of Paris - despite my general aversion to Paris (this is a story for another day, but suffice it to say that the mere mention of Paris can make me feel panicky) - but I think this book could still appeal to people who aren't interested in straight-up romance books. If only they could lose the cheesy title and cover (although this one is a vast improvement on the previous one)