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October 22, 2019

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

Each scent holds a mystery, its own story. That was the first lesson Papa taught me. "To be a parfumeur is to be a detective, Sophie," he'd say, bent in deep concentration over the mixing tube with a dropper of perfume oil. He would mix the solvent and sniff, mix and sniff, until he was satisfied. Only then would he soak a mouillette, a narrow strip of paper, and hand it to me. "What do you see?" he'd ask. (p 4)

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Grace Kelly, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [Public domain]
“The idea of my life as a fairy tale is itself a fairy tale”—Princess Grace of Monaco

July 2019; William Morrow; 978-0062913548
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); historical fiction
This beautiful new novel is based on Grace Kelley's wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956 in Monaco.  Before she met the prince, she was Hollywood elite and followed everywhere by reporters and cameras.  When she was in Cannes in 1955 for the Film Festival, she was introduced to Prince Rainier of Monaco for a photo op.  She wasn't initially very impressed with him but that soon changed.  She married her prince in 1956, retired from Hollywood and lived a happy life cut short by tragedy in 1982.  Over the years, people continue to be enchanted by her fairy tale story and her life in Monaco.  This novel gives us a more intimate look at Grace Kelley before her marriage.

Meet Me in Monaco is made up of two very different stories that are entwined almost from the beginning.  When Grace Kelly was trying to escape from a photographer in Cannes, she went into a perfume shop owned by Sophie.  Sophie was not only a shop owner but she also developed new fragrances and understood the chemistry behind new fragrances that she had learned from her deceased father.  When she first meets Grace Kelly, her business is in trouble and her mother, an alcoholic, is threatening to sell the business and the land in Grasse where she grows the plants that she uses for her perfumes.  When she receives a request from the soon to be princess, it may be what she needs to make her business profitable again.

The history behind the royal wedding is beautifully intertwined with Sophie's story and the story of a photographer named James.  It is told in alternating chapters by Sophie and James whose chance encounter becomes one the most significant part of their lives.  I loved reading about the spectacle of the wedding between Grace Kelly and her prince but just as interesting were the lives of Sophie and James.

The authors did a lot of research not only into the life of Grace Kelly but as important into the life of a perfumeur with lots of information about creating perfumes.  I loved the earlier book by these authors and this is one more tremendous historical fiction book by them.  I met Heather Webb at a book signing last month and she told the audience that she is working on a new book with Hazel Gaynor which I am definitely looking forward to.

Buy Meet Me In Monaco at Amazon

Also by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb: Last Christmas in Paris (read my review)

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. I love everything about Grace Kelly, and can't wait to read more. Thanks for sharing.

  2. i love when an author does their research, finding those hidden nuggets that make the person come to life
    sherry @ fundinmental