3 out of 5 Stars
Nursery school teacher Natalie wants a baby, but her boyfriend of three years, Fred, does not. She decides to work harder on pleasing him so they can move on to the next stage of their life together.
Adrien is a professional chess player who is ready for a little more in his life, only he doesn’t know where to find it. When he meets Natalie in a café, he’s determined to make something of the relationship. What he doesn’t know is that Natalie is only coming to the café to spy on Fred once she realizes he hasn’t been staying late at work like he said.
A friendship blossoms between Natalie and Adrien, but she needs to come clean with him after he kisses her and she runs away.
I’ll be frank. I didn’t like this story. It is a short novella—much too short to have accomplished what the writer set out to do. By showing the reader both Natalie and Adrien’s points of view, it limited how much we could connect with either character. There was definitely more of Natalie’s story than Adrien’s, but that only made me dislike Natalie more. She was a bit of a pushover, doing whatever she could to please Fred while he was off “working” and ignoring her. When she discovered he was cheating on her, she immediately forgave him and even accepted his marriage proposal. There was no buildup of the relationship between Natalie and Adrian. One day she was apologizing for using him, and then she was suddenly single and wanted to be with him. Of course, he was okay with that, so maybe he was a bit of a pushover as well.
Although written decently, at times the dialogue felt awkward, but I got over that by remembering they were French. What I didn’t ever understand was whether these people were English-speaking in France or not. The author had an odd way of tossing a French phrase into the mix every now and then rather than using the English translation. If they were speaking French the entire time (and the book was just written in English), why not make it all English?
The novella was also telling two different stories for a while. The main characters didn’t meet until thirty-two percent into the short story, and then it was still minimal friendly interactions between them, yet suddenly at the end they both wanted to be together.
This romance just didn’t do it for me.