Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Book Review: Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: July 23, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamorous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.  Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.  James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love."

James Henderson is a paparazzo for a tabloid magazine, but he likes to think himself as so much more than that as he as higher aspirations. It's the 1950s and his tabloid magazine assigns him to Cannes for the famous film festival.  Not a bad gig, right? This year James, also known as Jim, is hoping to get the much sought after shot of the one and only Grace Kelly. While in Cannes, Grace, annoyed at the persistent photographers, seeks refuge in a perfume shop run by Sophie Duval.  Grace is intrigued by the one of a kind perfumes and becomes fast friends with Sophie who helped her in her time of need.  While exiting the shop, Sophie has words with Jim as she thinks he is just another pain in the butt tabloid photographer, but Jim is immediately enamored with the mysterious Sophie.  Sophie is pleased to get such an amazing client like Grace Kelly, but is this enough to help save her shop which is on the brink of bankruptcy?   It doesn't help that Sophie's mother isn't supportive of her and Sophie's boyfriend, a business tycoon, wants her to sell the shop despite that it is her passion and her father's life's work.  Jim and Sophie's unlikely romance is set against Grace Kelly's wedding in Monaco, but when Jim receives news that he has to head home it appears that their luck has run dry.  Can they be together despite the odds or was it just a fleeting romance brought on by the romantic atmosphere of the royal wedding? Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb is a romantic historical read for not only fans of Grace Kelly, but also fans of love stories that span many years.

I really loved the character of Sophie from the start in Meet Me in Monaco. Her passion for perfumes practically leaped off the page and I love her dedication to her store despite the odds. Her dedication to her deceased father and their shared passion of the perfume store warmed my heart.  On the other hand, I really wasn't a fan of Sophie's boyfriend who was controlling and gave her horrible advice. I didn't trust him in the least bit and couldn't wait for Sophie to get away from his clawing grip.  When she meets Jim it isn't under the best of circumstances; after all, she is hiding Grace from photographers, but once they connect and Sophie sees him for who he truly is, their love story becomes very heartwarming.  Without giving too much away, let's just say it's a bit of a star-crossed tale.

Then there's Grace Kelly in Meet Me in Monaco. She's everything you would expect and more.  Gaynor and Webb truly brought her to life and at times she felt just a little too perfect and a little too Disney Princess for me, but perhaps she was just that incredible? Gaynor and Webb brought Grace to life so well that I found myself googling various things about her whether it was about her father, her sister, or her romance with Prince Rainier, I was extremely intrigued. In fact, I wish Gaynor and Webb spent just a little more time on her and her lavish wedding.

The setting of Monaco is the perfect setting for a beach read. It was all beautifully described and the glamour came to life.  Whether Gaynor and Webb included details about the luxurious dinners, the beautiful views, the perfume scents, or the wedding preparations, it was all very memorable and added to the sophisticated atmosphere of the story. 

If you love historical fiction with a strong side of romance, give Meet Me in Monaco a try this summer.  If you are a huge Grace Kelly fan, like me, then you will appreciate this novel the most even though you know how things end up for our one of a kind Hollywood star.  


  1. This sounds really great, I can't wait to read it!

    1. I think you'll like it. It definitely made me even more curious about Grace Kelly's life and the romance between Jim and Sophie was done well. Thanks for visiting, Michele!


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