This book is awesome. It made me feel head-over-heels and topsy-turvy as I read towards the end of its story. I wanted to run back to it each time my duties called me away, despite it being 400+ pages long..
This is a book worth retaining in my own library.
Besides the beautiful beautiful language descriptions, the way Imogen and Archer revealed and confessed their feelings for each other, both verbally, technologically and physically, wasn't portrayed so bawdily and raunchily. In fact, it was sweetly seductive. I really loved it. There were semblances of raunchiness in one or two physically intimate encounters between Imogen and other men, but they were blown off by the sweet moments she shared with Archer.
The revelation to Imogen's quest gave me thrills to no end despite my prior inkling of the answer, notwithstanding the hints that Hart had injected in the course of the story.
The setting may be in France, where romance is always associated with it but I think it does little to distract the reader from the actual plot. In fact, it serves to only enhance it.
I cannot resist sharing some beautiful descriptive sentences from the book:
"She stiffened in surprise as she felt a man's hands gliding caressingly down her arms and covering her own hands, and almost immediately a soft, firm mouth closing over hers, a wild rush of blood to her face, her throat, her arms and every one of her fingers, her legs and her belly."
"Imogen, it's me,' the person said in French, very low, while taking her hand in his."
"Where are you?' 'Over here,' he whispered, finding and taking both her hands this time. He very gently pulled her into his arms where he held her in a light embrace.
"She found herself instinctively laying her head on his shoulder. She was only aware of the feel of his shirt against her cheek."
He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her until she fell into such an all-enveloping, liquid and languorous haze that her knees almost gave way. He pressed his mouth against her throat. When the desire to cry out became irresistible, she turned around in his embrace and nestled against him."
He seized her hand, slipping his fingers between hers caressingly. He wrapped his arms around her and she closed her eyes."
"He pulled her to him in order to kiss her cheek, very close to her mouth."
"Tea-rose pink, it makes your skin look a lovely shade of pale gold. I like your white tuxedo. You make me feel like we're all on a liner in the middle of the ocean."
"The bar, with its curved high ceiling and narrowish gallery shape punctuated by tall rounded pillars, was a vision of art deco splendour, saved from excessive solemnity by its cheerful Mediterrranean shades of cobalt blue and terracotta red. The hotel's dining room was an enclosed, nude-coloured, leather-upholstered box that resembled the interior of an expensive handbag, with the dramatic addition of sparkling crystal pebbles cascading from the ceiling."
"The sky beyond the orange trees had turned from a muted porcelain shade of almost-white to vibrant summery blue.
"She heard a soft whimpering sound and turned to meet Monty's pleading eyes. She let him out and watched him put his nose to the ground, entranced by a new wealth of exotic smells. The hills stretched out in front of her eyes, carpeted with yellow-flowered gorse. She looked up at the sky, which was a pale shade of grey that seemed to promise rain. She gazed at the deep valley stretching out in front of her. In the far distance, the mountains looked like a painted film set, so vivid were their variegated shades of purple and blue."
"She noticed a dramatic change in the weather. It was as though all the Riviera light had suddenly been sucked out of the atmosphere. The palm trees on the promenade looked bruised and exhausted against a leaden sky."
"The people retreated indoors, with the exception of the town's devoted dog owners who continued to parade their smartly mackintoshed and often booted charges."
"By the end of a torturous week, the pain gnawing at her chest was searing, unbearable and when tears came, it was with a violence she had never before experienced, streaming from her eyes like a solid curtain, which, when it occasionally dried up, left her face aching and swollen. Mitch and Gene had been very kind, coming into her room at night to sit with her and hold her hand when they heard her sobbing in her sleep."
"The wedding cake design was a deep puff pastry love well filled with layers of vanilla custard and crunchy nougatine. This sat atop an ornate neo-classical white plinth encased in meringue, against the side of which a gold-coloured spun-sugar ladder was propped up. At the top of this, a barrel-chested, pink-faced marzipan figure, easily identifiable by his chef's whites and hat, stood clutching a sugar lobster in one hand and a bunch of marzipan flowers in the other, while gazing romantically across the well, where a glamorous marzipan figure, wearing a large white floppy straw hat and a fabulously expensive and beautifully cut black swimsuit, was perched on the pastry edge, dipping one foot in the custard."
"Brightly coloured fragments began to fit together in her mind like a mosaic, forming a picture. Suddenly, everything became very bright, as in an accelerated version of the dawn."
"He raised a hand to her face and his fingertips brushed her cheek, then caressed her hair. Their eyes met and Imegen smiled. He gathered her into his arms. It was all right, she thought, rubbing her face against his shoulder. 'Oh, my sweet girl,' he said. He took her hands. He pressed his forehead against hers. She lay in his arms in a state of absolute peace and contentment. She rubbed her cheek against his. He tightened his hold on her. She stroked his hair. Wordlessly, Imogen kissed his brows, the bridge of his nose, and he smiled. She caressed his face and he seriously looked into her eyes. He brought his mouth firmly down on hers."
"I had the strongest desire to give you something that would make you think of me."
"She sat, holding hands with Archer."
"She changed into a beautiful evening gown in midnight blue lace for the evening party."
"The people on table six really wanted to congratulate her. She had found a party consisting of her dearest friends, all cheering her on. It had been the most wonderful accolade. Christmas had been spent at Bunny's house, where Imogen, Archer and their friends had all hunkered down for a few days, playing cards, watching silly DVDs and getting ridiculously merry."
"In the greenish underwater atmosphere of the restaurant, which at this hour of a winter's afternoon made the most of the shimmering marine tiles, his hazel eyes looked translucent and golden. She touched his face and smiled."
"Through the restaurant's glass front, the harbour presented a scene of radiant winter serenity. Snowy palm trees glittered against a pale backdrop in which the sea and the sky merged into one. Archer turned away from the view to gaze at Imogen, at which point she smiled. Archer had his hand on her waist."