Review: “Until Leaves Fall in Paris” by Sarah Sundin

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Thanks for stopping by to read my review of Sarah Sundin’s latest standalone novel, Until Leaves Fall in Paris. With a unique perspective that sets it apart from many titles in the WWII genre, this story will appeal to historical fiction and romance lovers alike.

About the Book

When the Nazis march toward Paris, American ballerina Lucie Girard buys her favorite English-language bookstore to allow the Jewish owners to escape. The Germans make it difficult for her to keep Green Leaf Books afloat. And she must keep the store open if she is to continue aiding the resistance by passing secret messages between the pages of her books.

Widower Paul Aubrey wants nothing more than to return to the States with his little girl, but the US Army convinces him to keep his factory running and obtain military information from his German customers. As the war rages on, Paul offers his own resistance by sabotaging his product and hiding British airmen in his factory. But in order to carry out his mission, he must appear to support the occupation—which does not win him any sympathy when he meets Lucie in the bookstore.

In a world turned upside down, will love or duty prevail?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin embodies a poignant look at the determination and endurance of Americans who chose to stay in occupied Paris during WWII. This is shown through the eyes of its hero and heroine Paul and Lucie, as they make sacrifices and seek to find small joys — and even an unlikely romance — during the months leading up to America’s official involvement in the war. In my opinion, this would make a fantastic movie! Not every book is suited to such an adaptation, but I think the setting, romance, and high-risk elements would translate well to the screen.

One of the things I love about historical fiction, and stories centered around one of the World Wars, in particular, is the abundance of perspectives and the triumph of humanity during that time. This story explores an aspect I have not encountered in my reading: that of Americans abroad dealing with the German oppression of Paris and the dangers of resistance. Through Paul’s business activities and Lucie’s book store, they become increasingly involved in efforts to aid the Allies, though dangerous and in secret. This adds another layer to their growing friendship, as their activities are kept from each other yet their lives are becoming increasingly intertwined.

I appreciate Lucie and Paul’s convictions and how their initial distance is ultimately surmounted because of their integrity and beliefs. Their romance develops with a realistic steadiness and sweetness. Paul’s daughter, Josie, is a shining character who brings a ray of light to their lives.

In true “Sundin” style, all story elements combine to make this a memorable standout novel in a sea of WWII stories. The Parisian setting comes to life as action and intrigue unfold with ballet, books, friendship, and one spirited storytelling child enduring the tumultuous time. A slight connection to Sundin’s novel When Twilight Breaks will delight readers of that story as they will recognize Paul as a side character from it.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review + Blog Tour: “The Ice Swan” by J’Nell Ciesielski

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for J’Nell Ciesielski’s new novel, The Ice Swan! It combines a WWI setting with aspects of the Russian Revolution in a historical romance. Read on for more about the book, my review, and a giveaway courtesy of HFVBT tours and the publisher.

About the Book

The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski

The Ice Swan Cover

Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Thomas Nelson
eBook & Paperback; 400 pages

Genre: Historical Romance

Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarchy, a princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.

1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory. Svetlana and her family are forced into hiding in Paris’s underbelly, with little to their name but the jewels they sewed into their corsets before their terrifying escape.

Born the second son of a Scottish duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. After treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter. Intrigued by this mysterious, cold, and beautiful woman, Wynn follows Svetlana to an underground Russian club where drink, dance, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.

Out of money and options, Svetlana agrees to a marriage of convenience with the handsome and brilliant Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her family’s debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn cannot help but hope the marriage will turn into one of true affection. When Wynn’s life takes an unexpected turn, so does Svetlana’s—and soon Paris becomes as dangerous as Petrograd. And as the Bolsheviks chase them to Scotland and beyond, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.

The Ice Swan is a ray of light in the middle of a Europe that was sinking into darkness. Ciesielski’s talent for storytelling from the heart is a feast for the readers’ eyes.” —Mario Escobar, international bestselling author of Remember Me and Children of the Stars

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com. You can also find J’nell on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Review

The Ice Swan is a complex story with hints of intrigue and risk set during a tumultuous time in history with a beautiful romance at its core. Author J’Nell Ciesielski sets the bar high for excellence in the genre!

Every aspect of this novel is well paced and meticulously imparted, from the culture and heritage of Svetlana, the secrets and intrigue of the Russian underground, the challenge of an Army hospital and techniques at wartime, the brilliantly depicted settings, to the bright themes of trust, grace, and belonging. The secondary characters are sometimes endearing, funny, annoying, or weasel-y as appropriate, making the contrasting worlds of Wynn and Svetlana come to life with a bit of humor and reality.

The romance between Wynn and Svetlana is one for the reader to fall headlong into. Theirs is a melding of cultures with a slow burn marriage of convenience, allll things I love in a historical romance. J’Nell’s skillful wordsmithing depicts the comforting touches and embraces just as satisfyingly for this romance reader’s heart as the moments of spark and attraction. The magnetism between Wynn and Svetlana is unmistakable from their first meeting, and the way they compliment one another in intelligence and encourage each other (even through a bit of pride and stubbornness on both parts!) is my favorite part of their dynamic.

Fans of Rachel McMillan, Kate Breslin, and Amanda Dykes will appreciate Ciesielski’s romantic prose and thought-provoking storytelling. I have a greater understanding of Russian history in the early 20th century and a new respect for the beginnings of cardiology thanks to the detailed research and history included in this story! Not mention a new fondness for the name Wynn :). This is the second novel I’ve read by J’Nell Ciesielski and I’m eager to read more soon.

Thank you the the publisher and HFVBT tours for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 6
Review at Rachelle Loves Books

Wednesday, July 7
Review at Crystal’s Library
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Thursday, July 8
Review at Nursebookie
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at McCombs on Main

Friday, July 9
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Monday, July 12
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Tuesday, July 13
Review at Wishful Endings
Interview at Books & Benches

Wednesday, July 14
Review at Novels Alive

Thursday, July 15
Review at The Green Mockingbird

Friday, July 16
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Review at Read Review Rejoice

Sunday, July 18
Review at Reader_ceygo

Monday, July 19
Review at Bookworlder
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Tuesday, July 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at Niki Loves to Read

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski! We have 5 copies up for grabs!The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on July 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Click Here to enter the GIVEAWAY via Gleam!

Cookbook Review: “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz

This cookbook has been waaaay long on my to-review list. So, here goes:

My Paris KitchenMy Paris Kitchen chronicles David Lebovitz’s time living in Paris and learning Parisian cuisine. With his personal stories and experiences shared with each recipe, it makes you feel as though you have experienced a bit of Paris through his eyes. The overall style and composition of each section of the cookbook is attractive and easy to read. (My pet (cookbook) peeve: font/text that’s too small or faint to understand. This DOES NOT happen here.) It is a well-rounded book featuring sections on appetizers, main courses, etc.

He has taken traditional French recipes and presented them colorfully, some with his own alterations or “twists”. Some of these variations understandably help us “here in America” because we don’t always have access to the same ingredients at the market. These come with fun explanations and suggestions for substitutes.;

My favorite recipe so far is the one for Israeli Couscous. It combines couscous with lemon, dried fruit, parsley, and spices. Yum! It’s a great side. Here’s a photo to make you hungry!
Israeli Couscous from My Paris Kitchen
Thank you to Blogging for Books for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review.