Review: What the Heart Remembers by Bette Lee Crosby

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this novel for review from the author. All opinions are fully my own, as usual.


Cover image from Amazon

Hello, world! Today I bring you a review of something a little different. I didn’t participate in the Read Harder challenge that Book Riot ran this year, I did decide that I would start it in 2016. One challenge that I saw was to read a romance novel, and here came Ms. Crosby with a selection for me.

*And of course, I have to mention the beautiful cover!*

Official Plot Synopsis

Max Martinelli spent her junior year of college in Paris, and fell in love. Julien was a wickedly handsome young man who was crazy in love with her, or so she thought. He was a free-spirited artist and she an aspiring architect—impressionable, young, and standing on the brink of womanhood.

That was over three years ago but the memory of him still haunts her. Max’s life is stuck on hold because she can’t stop wondering what would have happened if she had gone back. Was Julien simply part of the magic of Paris? Or was he meant to be her destiny?

After a New Year’s Eve party that ends in disaster and bad dreams, Max decides to find out once and for all. She is going to return to Paris and search for Julien. But will her search bring forever after happiness or a truth so ugly it will change her life forever?

Even though What the Heart Remembers is Book Three in the Memory House Series it is a stand-alone novel and you need not have read the other books to enjoy it.

My Thoughts

What first drew me to the novel was the mention of France. I’ve had a long obsession with all things France, from the language to the cultures of the francophone world. So to hear I was about to read a book that took place in France was all I needed to begin reading.

My issue here though was the use of French in the book. You see, our main character is an American visiting France, so the novel is in English, but street names and shops are in French. The places mentioned in the novel, or at least the ones that I have searched, are all real, which floored me. However, this mixing of English and French got a bit redundant at times.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Several times in the novel, “Magasin Sennelier” is mentioned. It’s important to the plot. But the problem is the sentence phrasing. It’ll say the “Magasin Sennelier Shop.” This drove me NUTS reading since I understand what this means. Essentially, what I am reading is “The Sennelier Shop Shop” because magasin means shop. Over and over, I heard about this “shop shop” or that “shop shop.”

However, I don’t want to be overly harsh on Ms. Crosby. Maybe she does know French, or some French, and was instead trying to aid her English-speaking readers. If you don’t know French, you would have no idea “Magasin Sennelier” was a shop unless she said shop. (Or, if you had been there. Again, it’s real!) So, I appreciate how she tried to engage her full audience. It’s also fine if she doesn’t know French, but I guess I would’ve wished she at least looked up the words she was using.

Still though, this is a complaint just for grammar-sticklers like me. Ms. Crosby is an excellent storyteller who manages to whisk even the skeptical reader away into her world. There’s just something about the diction of her prose. It’s not ornate or all that descriptive like some other novels I’ve read, but the style of the words somehow captures all that you need. I admire that a lot.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a pure romance fan. I don’t mind a romance plot within a novel, but I don’t usually turn to books that are just romance. Probably due to the setting of the book and the multitude of characters, this plot did eventually manage to grab me. It wasn’t just a straightforward one guy, one girl story. There were other characters, other situations, and even a touch of mystery that kept me compelled to keep reading.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the romance genre looking to get away for a day or two to a romantic (and mysterious) vacation in Paris, What the Heart Remembers is the book for you, at just $4.99 for Kindle. And if you like this one, you can also grab the previous two novels (again, they can be read on their own) and experience even more of her stories!

Personally, I’d give this one 3.5 stars. I don’t think I’ll continue with the series on my own, but I truly enjoyed experiencing my first romance novel from not just any author, but from one of the masters of the genre.