Katie Fforde’s books are always a treat. Romantic, funny, & often highlighting a very English preoccupation – canal boats, furniture restoration, auction houses or TV cooking shows. This time it’s antiques. Gina & Sally Makepiece inherit a stall in an antiques market called the French House. Their Aunt Rainey was an eccentric life force & she wants the sisters to have a go at running the stall even though neither knows anything about antiques. Sally is a designer of crafty knick-knacks currently preoccupied with her twin daughters. Gina is in PR & she’s just moved to the country to be near her sister after a painful breakup with her cheating boyfriend.
The owner of the French House is moody, taciturn Matthew Ballinger. He agrees to help Gina & Sally with the stall because he was fond of Rainey but it’s obvious that he thinks they have little chance of making a go of it. The French House is home to an engaging group of dealers & artists who rent space there but, since the death of Matthew’s father, the spirit seems to have gone out of the place. Gina immediately sees the potential of the house but she has a hard time convincing Matthew to try any of her ideas from Sunday opening to a Christmas fair. He does, however, agree to take her along to a few antiques fairs & help her get started.
Although Gina is definitely not looking for a relationship, she can’t help but be attracted to Matthew who is darkly attractive if moody & mysterious. Although Matthew loves the French House & is reluctant to let his tenants down, he is also worried about his financial position. His ex-wife, Yvette, is clamouring for the rest of her settlement & she has a friend who is eager to buy the French House & set up her homewares business. As Gina & Matthew’s relationship moves from tentative friendship to passionate romance, Gina becomes even more determined to find a way to save the French House. She also becomes increasingly interested in antiques & her sales skills are a definite asset. After a blissful trip to France where Matthew is unfortunately unable to reason with Yvette, Gina decides to come up with a plan to save the French House from sale. The only problem is that Matthew is furious about her idea & their relationship suddenly turns from fire to frost.
A French Affair is a gorgeous book, perfect for reading in one long afternoon, as I did. Gina is a lovely character. She’s warm, kindhearted & outgoing. She’s determined to honour Aunt Rainey’s legacy, even when she thinks the idea is completely mad & her growing feelings for Matthew are equally confusing & exhilarating. The country town setting, together with antiques & the trip to France, is just perfect for this kind of romantic story that Katie Fforde writes so well.
I read A French Affair courtesy of NetGalley.