The Silk Romance, author Helena Fairfax’s first novel, is a sweet and emotional contemporary romance and such a romantic read. At its heart is a complex relationship between a rich, sophisticated Frenchman and an impoverished Englishwoman. Yet this is no simple Cinderella tale as their HEA is fraught with family tragedy, deception, misunderstandings and the difficulties which can arise when two very different worlds collide.
Sophie Challoner and racing driver Jean-Luc Olivier spent a passionate night together in Paris four years ago, after which Sophie fled to the safety and responsibilities of her family awaiting her in London. Sophie is committed to the promise that she made to her dying mother – to look after her father and brother. Four years later Sophie is shocked when Jean-Luc appears once more and uses his power and influence to arrange for her to spend two months on a student work placement at his silk mill in Lyon, France. Jean-Luc is hell bent on solving the mystery of Sophie and why she ran away from him. Sophie, for her part, resolves to keep her distance, knowing that they can never share a future. The couple cannot deny their growing attraction, yet how can they have a relationship when their worlds are so far apart and when a family emergency compels Sophie to return home to honour her promise to her mother?
The story shows that money cannot buy love. There are many obstacles to their romance: both characters have strong misconceptions of the other, which must first be overcome; there is also the gulf that exists between them in terms of Sophie’s family responsibilities and their different worlds, one of fancy restaurants and haute couture the other of fast food and rundown housing estates.
On the surface Sophie is a strong and determined young woman, working hard to support her family financially and emotionally. However, her carefully constructed façade crumbles as soon as Jean-Luc appears, and she begins to unravel, revealing her vulnerabilities and exposure to Jean-Luc’s world opens old wounds. She has not had a relationship since the night she spent with Jean-Luc in Paris, a night she often dreams of. Her resolve to keep her distance from Jean-Luc is put to the test by events which show him to be far from the shallow celebrity she believed him to be and Jean-Luc’s strong determination to breach her fragile defences and find out the truth.
Jean-Luc is an alpha hero with a strong sense of honour and is full of Gallic charm, making me go weak at the knees just thinking about him! He is a man who likes to exert control in his life and has his own secrets. However, with Sophie he is flummoxed as he cannot understand her motivations, let alone control her. He does know that he wants to protect Sophie and knows that he must be patient if he is to prevent her running away again. He is wonderful hero, who has learned a lot in the years since he first encountered Sophie in Paris.
I also enjoyed the main setting for the novel, the romantic city of Lyon and lost myself in the evocative descriptions of the architecture, the silk mill and ‘la vie en France.’ There are also scenes which take place in Paris and London. I was pulled into the story immediately with the opening scene, where Sophie meets Jean-Luc for the first time since that fateful night four years ago. The tension and the emotional link between the main couple jump off the pages and was maintained throughout the novel. The publisher, MuseItUp Publishing (click on the link) has a lovely excerpt of this scene on their website if you want to find out more.
I found The Silk Romance to be an extremely romantic and engaging novel, in which I was aching for the couple to overcome the obstacles to their happiness and embrace their future together. It is a very impressive first novel, exploring both romantic love and family ties and I am looking forward to the next novel by the author, The Antique Love, which is in the pipeline.
A copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.
To read about what inspired Helena to write this novel and the characters within it and to read her author bio please scroll up or click here.
Publisher MuseItUp Publishing – click for details of the book and for excerpt
Cover art for The Silk Romance by Charlotte Volnek