Thursday, 12 March 2015

Book Blog Stop & Review: The Frenchman by Lesley Young

The Frenchman

Crime Royalty Romance # 1
By: Lesley Young
Released December 2, 2014
L.A.Y. Books

The Frenchman

Crime Royalty Romance

Fleur Smithers rarely veers off the straight and (excruciatingly) narrow. So moving to the seaport town of Toulon to live with her newfound biological mother—an inspector with the French National Police—for one year is a pretty major detour.

Son of France’s crime royalty family and international rugby star, Louis Messette, is devoted to his sport, famille and nothing else. But the carefree American he meets one night changes everything. She sparks a desire in him like no other. Possession takes root. She will do as he commands.

Bit by bit Fleur slips into the Frenchman’s realm of wanton pleasure agreeing to his one condition: that she keep their affair secret. She serves up her heart without reservation in the hub of the glittering Côte d’Azur, and the along the soulful Seine in Paris, unaware of the danger she is in. For her new lover’s family business will pit her against her mother, the police woman sworn to bring down the Messettes. And by then, far more than Fleur’s heart will be on the line.

 Link to Follow Tour: Here 

As we neared the yacht, I could see only lights from a few windows of the cabin area. Near the bow, men were lingering, smoking. I was shaky as I walked across the sloped plank, and it wasn’t from the cold wind coming off the sea.
Louis’s entourage joined me on the deck. I was struck by how much larger the entire boat seemed once you were on it. My escorts pointed in the direction of the lit cabin with encouraging nods. Just outside the doorway, looking down into the deep inset cabin, I spotted Louis sitting at an elaborate bar, sipping a highball.
He was poised, on the edge of a stool, in black dress pants, one long, thick leg stretched out, the other bent underneath the stool. The sleeves of his blue dress shirt were rolled up, which, I noted, might be a habit of his. He spun the whiskey around in his hand, watching the golden elixir reflect light. I wondered if he was trying to read his fortune in that glass, he stared so intently at it. I recalled the night we met, at the bistro, how he gave off animosity. But now I knew better: it was power.
He glanced up and watched me step down into the cabin. His silent magnitude left me breathless. He took in my dress quickly, eyes steady, and when he broke into a smile, my heart skipped a beat.
“You came,” he said in English, standing up, looking ginormous in the tiny room.
“Bien sûr,” I answered. Why would he think I wouldn’t?
He was already near. It was odd: his face was sketched with relief. He reached for my hand and pulled me to him, brushing his mouth close to mine with a mere greeting. He paused, hovering near, suddenly shifting his lower half up so close I could feel the heat coming off of him. He clamped his lips down on mine with two-ton force. I was crushed under all his intensity as he nudged my mouth open and tasted me. My heart was beating a mile a minute. I kissed him back, tasting the whiskey on his tongue, smelling his cologne and natural musk. We lingered a moment, before he pulled back and, clasping both my cheeks, planted two more soft kisses on my lips.

My chest hurt from a strange new kind of anxiety, high-pitched, full of woe. Dread closed in on me. I’d never felt so exposed standing before one human being before. And realization that he could desecrate me with a mere cold shoulder sank in.
And maybe that was his point. But why?
“Is that what you want? Do you want me to go?” I whispered, trying to keep my voice steady.
I swear a universe of emotion flickered in his eyes, but it presented itself so quickly, and was hidden from view, I wondered if it existed at all.
I waited.
He shrugged. As if I was asking him what color tie he wanted to wear.
I gasped. The floor opened up beneath me, and, as I fell, I knew it then. He was the keeper—the keeper of our connection. And he’d decided to punish me, without explanation, to prove a point that he refused to explain.
I recalled thinking once that he was a rotten man. What had happened to that idea? It was suddenly clear and present again.
I rushed into my dress, zipping it up on the way to the door. I stumbled because tragedy lay before me.
Was I going to leave?
My heart was up in my throat, and tears ran down my cheeks.
Why was he so mean?
I didn’t understand!
I was steps from his door. Yes. I was running home. To my mother. Like the child he clearly thought I was. The lump in my throat ached, as with one last gasp of disbelief, I pulled on the handle, desperate for him to stop me and desperate to get away, but . . . the door wouldn’t budge.
I tugged again.
His hand was above me, holding it closed. The tattoo glared down at me. He’d moved—fast. To stop me.
He didn’t want me to leave after all.
I didn’t know whether to be relieved or terrified or angry.
I felt, only, numb.
When he stepped into me, my body moved of its own volition as close to the door as possible.
Seems he’d gotten what he was so desperate to have. I was scared of him.
He buried his face in my hair, and my chest burned. Tears of hurt streamed down my face. What had just happened? My heart was pumping so fast it was going to burst and spray black everywhere, and I didn’t even know why!
“Fleur,” he whispered.
No. I shook my head, but his body had drawn close and followed mine as I tried to shift away against the door.
“Fleur,” he whispered.
I paused. We stood there, barely touching, me trapped in a standstill of . . . hope. So much hope. Pure hope. It was a field of azure bluebonnets on a Texas highway promising to bud every spring without tending or mercy. I didn’t know what he wanted from me, not by the way he had said my name, or in general, anymore, and I didn’t care, not as long as he wanted me.
Slowly, gently, he pulled me into him, and I let him.
I let him.

And . . . time began again.

This is the first book I've read by Lesley Young. I was drawn to The Frenchman, the first book in The Crime Royalty Romance series because of the international setting for the plot. This was a much welcome and refreshing change from what I've read recently.

Fleur LaSalle Smithers is in Toulon for a year in an attempt to build a relationship with her biological mother. She's lived a sheltered life with her adoptive mom in Austin, Texas and is now spreading her wings to find her family roots in France. Fleur came across as unworldly and rather naïve at times. Her attitude and responses made her seem far younger than her twenty-three years.

Louis Mesette is an enigmatic man. To the outside world he's a professional rugby player with an aristocratic background, not forgetting his playboy notoriety. To others he's a member of a crime family involved in underworld activities. After all his family own the Port of Toulon, a perfect place to illegally smuggle drugs!

Sparks eventually fly between our protagonists after Louis originally rejected Fleur to protect her innocence, completely misreading that underneath her naivety is a passionate woman screaming to escape. It isn't long before their differing worlds collide as their mutual family connections clash. Is it possible for the daughter of a police inspector to find happiness with a man with criminal connections?

Overall this was an entertaining book and if you are unfamiliar with the French language you will learn a phrase or two as you become embroiled within the storyline. I struggled for the first third of the book to get into the story as it was a little slow, but the pace did increase to keep my focus and attention. The suspense aspect was as unexpected surprise added a welcome dimension to the plot. I particularly liked that the author showed the cultural differences between Fleur and Louis during their interactions, giving examples of what is fine and acceptable in US is definitely not au fait in France.

I know that the next book in this series is based around an Australian, but would be interested to know if the author will re-visit the Mesette family again because I'm sure Georges, Henri and Philippe Mesette have interesting stories to tell too.

3 ¾ stars – would have been 4 stars if not for the slow beginning.

***arc received in exchange for an honest review***

Lesley Young is an award-winning Canadian journalist by day, and compulsive novelist by night. Her debut novel, Sky’s End (Soulmate Publishing, 2013) hit #9 on Amazon’s sci-fi romance paid best-seller list in its first three months of release. Not too long after that, she started dreaming up quirky heroines who lose their hearts to extremely powerful, imperfect heroes, while on dangerous adventures abroad. She called it the Crime Royalty Romance series, and kicked it off with The Frenchman, which landed her an agent at Spencerhill Associates. Lesley’s never sure who or what will pop up in her imagination next. The Irishman? The Spaniard? The Englishman? She’s taking requests!
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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