I knew from the minute I saw the cover of this book that I was going to enjoy it, and I wasn’t wrong! I had the chance to meet Denise at BEA this year and get a signed ARC and I immediately dove in! I also had the chance to ask Denise a few questions and we’re sharing them with you, but first a bit about her book!
One Paris Summer Published by Blink on June 7, 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family Life, Love & Romance, Parents, Siblings, Young Adult Fiction
Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren't betrayal enough, he's about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.
Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn't support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.
Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.
Describe ONE PARIS SUMMER in 5 words.
First love—cute French boy.
How did ONE PARIS SUMMER come about, what was your inspiration? What made you think you had to write this story?
My daughter was obsessed with Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and loved all things Paris. Of course she begged me to take her there. So for her sixteenth birthday, I took her and her best friend to spend five days in the City of Light and I fell head over heels in love… with the city. The idea for One Paris Summer sparked, then evolved until I took a solo trip six months later.
Paris is another character in your book, why did you choose this city and what kind of research did you get to do?
As I mentioned, I love Paris. I decided I wanted the reader to feel like they were there too. I put a lot of effort into getting details both about locations, but French culture as well. My daughter’s high school French teacher, Dawn Walton, was a valuable resource. In fact, my family spent three weeks in Paris last summer to nail down some details, and Dawn joined us for part of the trip.
Can you share (without spoilers) a line or section of ONE PARIS SUMMER that is your favorite?
I leaned the back of my head against the building, wondering what had happened to my previously perfect life.
“Vous allez bien?”
I turned to face a guy close to my age, standing to my right. He was a good six inches taller than my five-four. He had dark, wavy hair and deep blue eyes that were filled with concern.
I wiped my face with the back of my hand, released a tiny sob, and said, “I don’t know what you said. I don’t know what anyone is saying here.” I started to cry again.
He slipped off his backpack, unzipped it, and started to dig around inside. “Are you lost?” he asked, looking into my eyes.
The kindness and worry in his voice caught me by surprise.
He handed me a tissue, and I reluctantly took it.
“It’s clean,” he said, and a smile spread across his face, lighting up his spectacular eyes.
I dabbed my face, realizing two things. One, this French guy was impossibly cute, and two, I was an ugly crier.
It really wasn’t my day.
“Define lost,” I said, then realized the context was probably lost on him. “No, I’m not lost. My father and brother are inside.”
He closed his backpack and slipped it back over his shoulder. “But you are outside crying.”
“Yeah. I’m having a bad day.” I shook my head and laughed. “Make that a bad year.”
“Then let us hope your year gets better after now.”
I looked into his eyes and smiled at his slightly twisted English. For the first time since I’d gotten off the plane I felt like I might not hate everything about this trip. “Yeah. Let’s hope so.”
What are you currently reading?
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Write. Write all the time. Realize that your first efforts probably won’t be any good. But make writing a habit in your life, and the more you write, the better you’ll get.
You’ve been kidnapped. You can call on the characters from one television show to make a rescue attempt. Which show do you pick and why?
Matt Murdock from Daredevil. Have you seen him in action?
Tell us 3 random facts about you.
- I’ve been to ten foreign countries.
- I need very little sleep.
- I have no sense of smell.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
I’ m currently drafting Act Two, the second book in my Magnolia Steele Mystery series.
Favorite Song (right now): Need You Now by Lady Antebellum (I used it in Act Two and now I’m obsessed)
Favorite Book (right now): Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Favorite TV Show/Movie: Game of Thrones
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Curse Word: Damn it
Paris is the last place on earth that Sophie wants to spend her summer… she has her reasons of course, starting with the fact that she’ll be with her father who has basically ignored her and her brother for the last ten months after ditching them and leaving for the city of lights to pursue his dream job. His abandonment has left a bigger hole in her life and heart than she’ll ever admit, but he’s on the verge of getting remarried and her mom is pushing her to go, so she finds herself on a flight to a city she doesn’t really want to go to.
When the plane touches down, she’s thrust into her father’s new life, meeting his soon to be wife and step-sister, but she has goals of her own for the summer that she isn’t going to give up even though she won’t be at home. Despite her father’s pushing to get to know the city, Sophie’s priority actually lies with her piano lessons, and she’s bound and determined to get her play and practice time in.
So what did I love? I adored the depiction of the city… Swank does an amazing job of bringing Paris to her readers. It’s almost another character of the story. While Sophie and her brother explore, we get to explore, and I loved getting to know the city through their experiences.
I also really loved the relationship that was built between Sophie and her stepmother. I have to say that I love that she wasn’t the typical evil stepmom. No, that description can be reserved for her stepsister Camille. From the get go, I didn’t get Camille’s motivations and in all honesty, it just really became a big frustration for me. I hated her. Like all caps HATED her. Oh… and Dale too. King of the douchebags for sure. I’m not going to get into details about the why’s because you’ll get it right away for both, but ugh… they are totally THE WORST.
Of course there is a romance here, because Sophie, like I, can’t resist Mathieu’s charms. When Sophie’s father falls through on providing her with a piano to practice, Mathieu just happens to have one at his apartment and as they say, the rest is history. I really enjoyed the slow build to their relationship. They connect because of shared histories… Mathieu comes from a split family and when the frustrations get to be too much for Sophie, he’s there for a shoulder to lean on. Though it’s not an easy relationship, and I thought that the reasons surrounding Mathieu’s wanting to keep things quiet between them were a little … lame? LOL I don’t know what other word to use for it. I just felt like if he had come clean with a lot of what happened in the past to certain people, it didn’t have to be as big a deal as it was.
I loved that Swank really delved into family relationships in this story as well and it was a BIG part of the story. When we first meet Eric and Sophie, they barely tolerate each other as is often the case with siblings, but Eric really steps it up once they are in the city. I felt at times he was way too overprotective, but I truly enjoyed how much they cared for each other and weren’t afraid to show it. I also really loved the relationship she created between Sophie and her dad. She was his little girl and she depended on him for things and then suddenly he was gone, and Swank really hit on all the emotion and turmoil a sixteen year old might have in Sophie’s situation. I ended up really loving her relationship both with her mom and her dad and really liked how they as characters impacted the story.
Overall, a sweet, fun, coming of age story. This would actually make the perfect summer read if you’re looking for one of those as we approach the days where you park yourself on the beach and devour a book! I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Swank in the future.