Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thirteen: Hotel Riviera - Elizabeth Adler

Lola Laforet is a chef and owner of a quaint inn, Hotel Riviera, on the coast of Southern France - Saint Tropez to be exact. Six years ago she married her French husband, Patrick, on a whim and moved with him to France where they restored and reopened Hotel Riviera which had been in his family for many generations. Then one day Patrick didn't return when going out for a birthday gift for Lola. Suddenly Lola was thrust into maintaining the Hotel, cooking and entertaining the guests 24/7.

One gorgeous fall morning she spots a black sloop dock on the "private" beach area that backs the Hotel. Using her binoculars, Lola scans the boat and notices a man driving off it completely naked. When he returns to the boat and towels off - he turns and looks up to the terrace where she is. Their eyes meet briefly. A connection is made. This moment is how Lola meets the next love of her life - Jack Farrar. That night Jack comes to the Hotel for dinner and begins to sweep Lola off her feet. At first Lola is skeptical, but there is something that draws her to him.

Meanwhile as she is saying goodbye to the last guests of the season and preparing for a lonely, quiet off-season, the police show up at her door to inform her that Patrick's car was found abandoned. They are curious if she knows his whereabouts and suddenly she is a suspect in a murder investigation. Lola also welcomes a visit from a local lawyer who works for a wealthy businessman. Lola and Jack travel to meet this businessman and find out Patrick lost the Hotel Riviera in a gambling bet. The wealthy businessman is giving the Hotel to his current wife for her to live in.

Lola's world has totally fallen to pieces until one of her long-time guests Mrs. Nightingale just happens to see a man that looks suspiciously like Patrick in a neighboring town. Jack and Lola set out to find Patrick to not only clear Lola's name in his murder, but to get her Hotel back.

This book transported me to Southern France after spending a week traveling in the cold weather (and some snow) to Boston & Toronto. The characters were very lovable and I found myself hooked and wanting to know what happens next. Each chapter was told from a different character's point of view - which I thought was a nice twist to a normal "chick lit" means mystery type book. It definitely has the makings of a Romantic Comedy - especially with the two love interests meeting unexpectedly right away in the plot.

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