Serena Woods has it all. No, really. She’s an editor at Vogue in San Francisco, she’s engaged to the dashing young future senator Chase Barnett, and she just scored the interview of a lifetime with Yvette Renault, the legendary former editor of French Vogue. With a supportive kiss goodbye from Chase, she jets off to the French Coast in the midst of the Cannes Film Festival to work on Yvette’s memoir at the Carlton-InterContinental Hotel.

Then it starts to crumble. Serena arrives to find that the ritzy hotel has bungled her reservation. She’s rescued by an unusual young woman calling herself “Zoe Pistachio,” who’s staying in the suite next to Yvette’s and invites Serena to room with her. The suite is huge and swanky, and Zoe turns out to be the daughter of an Australian fashion tycoon, but she’s strangely secretive about her reasons for being in Cannes. Before Serena can get her bearings, she gets a second blow: Chase breaks the news that he’s uncovered a shocking allegation about her family that threatens both their engagement and Serena’s family ties. If all that wasn’t stressful enough, she’s on the most important deadline of her life!

With the pressure mounting and her engagement to Chase on the rocks, Serena struggles to keep her life from sliding into chaos. Meanwhile, she can’t seem to stop forgetting things everywhere she goes — her cell phone here, her credit card there — and every time she turns around, she finds her fallen items in the outstretched hand of a handsome local sailor named Nick. As their paths keep crossing in Cannes, they both come to realize they have much more in common than they ever imagined — and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

With that bundle of drama, French Coast sweeps the reader into a fast-paced tale of love, luck and friendship featuring an ensemble cast of interesting characters who share more connections than they realize.  As Serena works to write Yvette’s memoir and investigate the mystery that’s turned her closest relationships upside-down, she uncovers surprising intersections between her life and the lives of everyone around her in Cannes. The whole story is like a game of six degrees of separation, and turning the pages feels like peeling back the layers of an onion.

Yvette’s memoir adds a nice touch of retro glamour to the story. As an A-list fashion veteran and the rumored mistress of a renowned French author, she has plenty of dazzling tales to share with Serena. Their interview sessions take the reader back in time to a fabulous world of literary parties and sparkly galas, giving the book an interesting story-within-a-story element. Zoe also turns out to be more than meets the eye. As she and Serena grow closer, Zoe turns out to be working on a family mystery of her own. Even Nick is touched by a legacy of family drama, which complicates the growing bond between Serena and him.

Infidelity is a background theme in this book, and the way Anita Hughes handles it is interesting and impressive. While Serena is struggling with the possibility that her father was unfaithful to her mother, the other characters’ lives have also been touched in some way by by extramarital affairs and pregnancies. Somehow, the topic never becomes too heavy for the story, nor does it overshadow the likability of the main characters as they try to make sense of the complicated consequences of cheating. Everything stays fun and fast-paced, while the touches of sadness and sympathy that help fill out what’s otherwise a very breezy read.

Last but not least, the fashion! Anita Hughes has earned a reputation for crafting fun, fast-paced stories set in dreamy settings around the world, and French Coast is packed to the max with rich descriptions of swoon-worthy locations in Cannes, mouthwatering gourmet meals, and a never-ending stream of chic designer outfits worn by the fabulous Serena, Yvette and Zoe. If you’re looking for a breezy read to make you feel like you’re on a glamorous vacation, you can’t go wrong with French Coast. 

Did you read French Coast? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

Join Spa Week’s Book Club! Last week we reviewed Broken Juliet by Leisa Rayven. Next week we’ll review Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. Get reading and stay tuned!

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