When Gina Martin’s mentor passes away, his dying wish is that she go to Paris and view the works of master painters, as inspiration for her own art. At the Louvre, Gina is captivated by a painting from the late 18th century, and she catches the eye of Jerome Dumont, a gallery owner from provincial Perigueux who collects that artist’s work.
When Gina visits Perigueux to learn more about the painter, she finds herself falling fast for Jerome as they bond over the artist’s letters and journals. Meanwhile, the mother of Jerome’s ex-fiance is scheming to reunite him with her daughter and Gina is experiencing inexplicable feelings of deja vu. She’s certain she’s never been here before and she’s a sensible person, but she begins to wonder if she has some special connection to Perigueux and a cosmic force that drew her to that painting.
C.S. Donnell’s story comes alive with rich descriptive prose, from Gina’s “toffee-colored” hair and “cornflower” eyes to the idyllic sites of Perigueux, cobblestones, the glint of the River Isle, the minarets of Saint-Front Cathedral. If any book could feel like a vacation, this is it. Though the theory of past lives has become a common trope, Donnell’s take is fresh and full of interesting historical detail about the era of the French Revolution. The plot is well-developed with some genuine surprises, and Gina Martin is a stellar protagonist: smart, confident, and independent. Despite the occasional corny line (“moonlight becomes you”), Jerome is a very charming suitor, making this a well-rounded and delightful historical romance.