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The Paris Secret

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Not every door should be opened... With stunning locations and page-turning tension, The Paris Secret is an intense and gripping tale from bestselling author Karen Swan. Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades. High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable Not every door should be opened... With stunning locations and page-turning tension, The Paris Secret is an intense and gripping tale from bestselling author Karen Swan. Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades. High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to assess these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and discover who has concealed them for so long. Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding?


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Not every door should be opened... With stunning locations and page-turning tension, The Paris Secret is an intense and gripping tale from bestselling author Karen Swan. Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades. High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable Not every door should be opened... With stunning locations and page-turning tension, The Paris Secret is an intense and gripping tale from bestselling author Karen Swan. Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades. High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to assess these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and discover who has concealed them for so long. Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding?

30 review for The Paris Secret

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    4.5 stars This is the third book I have read that is inspired by an abandoned apartment in Paris that was discovered several years ago. The owner fled Paris during World War 2 and never returned. Each book has been fascinating to read (the other two are The Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable and The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman), and I love that each book is dramatically different from the others. Karen Swan tells a fascinating and compelling tale with the world of fine art as a background. The 4.5 stars This is the third book I have read that is inspired by an abandoned apartment in Paris that was discovered several years ago. The owner fled Paris during World War 2 and never returned. Each book has been fascinating to read (the other two are The Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable and The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman), and I love that each book is dramatically different from the others. Karen Swan tells a fascinating and compelling tale with the world of fine art as a background. The Paris Secret is a page-turner with a satisfying plot and well-drawn characters. The ending was outstanding, and I certainly did not see the resolution coming. I highly recommend this novel – it is well worth the read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Irena BookDustMagic

    3,5 stars to be precise. I have a confession to make: I never understood the art. You can put me infront of the most phrased art work in the world, and I will just stand there, totally confused, forcing my brain cells to see the beauty everyone talks about. I was never good at art class. I hated it. As an outcome to that, I didn’t particularly enjoy learning about it either. Therefore, when it comes to art culture, telling you that I am bad would probably be understate. Main theme of this book is the 3,5 stars to be precise. I have a confession to make: I never understood the art. You can put me infront of the most phrased art work in the world, and I will just stand there, totally confused, forcing my brain cells to see the beauty everyone talks about. I was never good at art class. I hated it. As an outcome to that, I didn’t particularly enjoy learning about it either. Therefore, when it comes to art culture, telling you that I am bad would probably be understate. Main theme of this book is the discovery of an abandoned apartman full of paintings collected during World War II. You can imagine my reaction when everything about it was divulged, all those masters who stood behind those masterpieces. Yes, I was confused, but I also tried my best to keep up. Although the name of this novel is The Paris Secret, Paris is not the only city Karen Swoon took us to in the adventure she created. We also got to visit London, Vienna and Antibes. However, not one of those places, Paris included, was explored enough to make me feel like I was there or like I was learning something new about those places. Although the art theme was somewhat miss in my case, I found the story behind the main theme pretty fascinating. All those secrets that were revealed and consequences that came with their revelation gave interestingness to the story. I only wish that the love aspect took a bigger part of this book. I also wish that it was observed more and in my opinion stronger love feature is the one ingredient that missed. I usually don’t crave for love in books I’m reading, but in this particular novel, on page 70, I cought myself hoping there would be love interest already to spice up this (until then pretty boring) book. From all the characters in the book, there were only two I wanted to know more about: Xavier and Natascha. They were mysterious and I knew from the moment we met them that there is something about them, that there is more then meets the eye. Although their characters have a part in this novel through the whole story, I honestly wish we got the chance to get to know them even better, especially Natascha. This is the second book by Karen Swan I read. I read her Christmas at Tiffany’s in December 2015 and fall in love with it. Although The Paris Secret didn’t live up to my expectations, I am more then happy to know that Karen wrote many books before this one and I am looking forward to read them. It exceptionally makes me happy the fact that most of her books are taking part during Christmas or are Christmas themed, because I really, really enjoy reading Christmas stories. I would recommend The Paris Secret to everyone who loves art, who likes reading stories about secrets and who enjoys reading family prose. Note: I got this book for free via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review. Thank you Pan Macmillan. Read this and more reviews on my blog: http://bookdustmagic.wordpress.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aditi

    “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” ----Pablo Picasso Karen Swan, an English author, pens a heart-touching and intense contemporary romance novel, The Paris Secret which unfolds the story of a family as well as a powerful female art dealer who gets muddled into the family drama as well as the family secrets of a reputed and affluent French family suddenly discovered artworks are needed to be studied by the art dealer to find its origin as well as the reason behind its concea “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” ----Pablo Picasso Karen Swan, an English author, pens a heart-touching and intense contemporary romance novel, The Paris Secret which unfolds the story of a family as well as a powerful female art dealer who gets muddled into the family drama as well as the family secrets of a reputed and affluent French family suddenly discovered artworks are needed to be studied by the art dealer to find its origin as well as the reason behind its concealment, but there's more to art drama than this art dealer can ever guess. Synopsis: Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades. High-flying Fine Art Agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to asses these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and just who has concealed them for so long. Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding? Flora Skyes is an English art dealer, adviser as well as auctioneer and her mind revolves around her parents, her brother and art, in big bold capital letters, rather than indulging herself in romance or any kind of compassion with an opposite sex. So this career-minded woman lands up in Paris after her boss, Angus's frantic call to handle and find the originality as well as to verify the authenticity of some suddenly discovered artworks, including a rare piece of Renoir in an apartment hidden and tucked away in some forgotten alley in Paris. That apartment belongs to Madame Vermeil's father-in-law, whose clear instructions say that the apartment and its contents can't be sold off if his wife is still alive. Soon Flora begins her investigation to find out about the hidden artworks and that stumbles her upon a dark Vermeil family secret, that can destroy the whole clan, and within no time, Flora finds herself getting allured to this compelling family, especially the mother-in-law and the two grand kids, Xavier and Natascha, and gets meddled into their dark family affairs. After reading this reading, I was left with the thought that Karen Swan is an incredible writer, not just her writing is flawless, but her style of spinning the story is also polished and perfect. Firstly, my heart was left arrested by that enchanting and oh so Parisian! artwork of the book cover that instantly begged me to open the book and start reading. And needless to say, right from the very prologue, the story left me wanting for more and to know what will happen next. The author's writing style is eloquent and exquisite, laced perfectly with intense emotions and mind-blowing tension. The author narrates the story with the help of layers without giving away too much, but enough to make her readers to stay glued to the story line. The dialogues are convincing and free-flowing as well as articulate enough to help the readers comprehend or lose themselves into it. The pacing of the book is moderate, as this is the kind of book that readers need to enjoy in a subtle way. The backdrop of Paris is bound to leave the readers awe-struck not only to those who have visited Paris but to also those who are yet to visit or haven't visited. The author has vividly captivated the charm, the perfect flair as well as the essence of a real Paris landscape, streets, restaurants, people, weather, flora as well as the fashion and the culture. The author has brought alive the city of lights with her fascinating words that strikingly portrays the city with its finest details for the readers to visually imagine it in their mind's eyes. Apart from Paris, the author also depicts so many French cities with careful observation and in proper depth so that the readers can imagine and feel the change in the landscape. The characters from this book are extremely well developed, especially the central character, Flora, who is a no-nonsense heroine, who has a sharp mind like a detective and a fine eye like an artist. Her brave, careful and determined demeanor makes her a perfect role model for the book, who doesn't like to get involve in a love-drama but her caring nature towards this French family will make the readers sympathize and keep rooting for her till the end. Well I was wondering that the book would be free of any cliched love stories, but anyhow, Flora eventually gets involved as she falls head-over-heels in the love with the badass guy from the book. The supporting characters are much better the central character, as each and everyone from that French family felt multi-dimensional and flawed to the very core, beyond their complex attitude and poshness. In a nutshell, the story is perfect for a long afternoon escape read and with a glass of red wine, this is surely going to take you places with some intense family drama and brain-twisting and gripping mystery to keep you hooked into it. Verdict: Enthralling, riveting as well as romantic..and very, very French! Oui! Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Pan Macmillan India for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    An apartment hidden for 73 years and forbidden by the owner to be known to anyone, but why? The children didn't even know about it until the apartment was broken into. Once the apartment was revealed to the children, in comes Flora and Angus, well-known art dealers and auctioneers. And what a find in that apartment closed for 73 years...famous paintings, artifacts, and the home left as it had been when the family lived there. Flora was in her domain and in her glory over this, but some things didn An apartment hidden for 73 years and forbidden by the owner to be known to anyone, but why? The children didn't even know about it until the apartment was broken into. Once the apartment was revealed to the children, in comes Flora and Angus, well-known art dealers and auctioneers. And what a find in that apartment closed for 73 years...famous paintings, artifacts, and the home left as it had been when the family lived there. Flora was in her domain and in her glory over this, but some things didn't seem right with the Vermeil family - the children were obnoxious, and their parents seemed excited but a bit disinterested in the apartment and its contents. Something else must be behind all of this. We follow Flora as she investigates the contents of the apartment and the path of sales of the Renoir from the painter to each seller. She came to a standstill when she found out that a dealer who dealt with the Nazis was the last recorded owner of the Renoir. If that was where it ended, no one would want the painting. Then when Flora went to Vienna to meet someone who had the companion painting to the Renoir, another surprise awaited her. Mystery, intrigue, and deceit abound in THE PARIS SECRET. I truly enjoyed THE PARIS SECRET. It was a bit of mystery mixed in with history. I was impressed at how much research goes into checking the authenticity of paintings. It actually was quite fascinating along with the excitement of recognizing the names of famous painters. This was my first book by Karen Swan and am sorry I have never read anything else by her. The story line is interesting, the writing is marvelous and very descriptive. If you love Paris, drama, art, finding treasures in old buildings, and a bit of romance, THE PARIS SECRET won't disappoint. The secret revealed in the ending pages was excellent. 5/5 This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Compelling, emotional and deliciously mysterious! This is a riveting tale that sweeps us into the glamorous world of art and takes us on a journey to find the true provenance of precious paintings that have been concealed for decades. The story is predominantly set in Paris during both the latter part of WWII, as well as present day and is filled with mystique, familial drama, heartbreak, secrets, deception, history, abuse, self discovery, exotic locales and of course a little bit of romance. The p Compelling, emotional and deliciously mysterious! This is a riveting tale that sweeps us into the glamorous world of art and takes us on a journey to find the true provenance of precious paintings that have been concealed for decades. The story is predominantly set in Paris during both the latter part of WWII, as well as present day and is filled with mystique, familial drama, heartbreak, secrets, deception, history, abuse, self discovery, exotic locales and of course a little bit of romance. The prose is precise and vividly descriptive. The characters are complex, independent and affluent. And the plot uses a present/past style to not only build suspense and tension, but to create depth and understanding to the personalities, motivations and relationships within it. I have to admit that when it comes to Karen Swan I’m a little bit biased. I’m a huge fan! To me her books are like a cosy jumper, every time I pick one up I know I can snuggle down for the whole day and be immersed in a story that will captivate me, make me smile, probably make me laugh, and possibly even make me cry and this one was no exception. Thank you to PGC Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. All my reviews can be found on my blog at http://whatsbetterthanbooks.com

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    I'll tell you what The Paris Secret is. The Paris Secret is... IT SUCKS! Continue to read for my view as to why ~ This book brings to mind a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt ~ "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." After reading The Paris Secret by Karen Swan, I'd have to add the addendum "trite minds discuss labels". I realized that Ms. Swan is a former fashion editor and that her world then consisted of knowing different designers as well as various oth I'll tell you what The Paris Secret is. The Paris Secret is... IT SUCKS! Continue to read for my view as to why ~ This book brings to mind a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt ~ "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." After reading The Paris Secret by Karen Swan, I'd have to add the addendum "trite minds discuss labels". I realized that Ms. Swan is a former fashion editor and that her world then consisted of knowing different designers as well as various other entitlements of a more rarified crowd than most people will ever become familiar with, but much like an emaciated model wearing a plus sized sweater, this book simply drowns in what I'm sure was intended to be descriptives for her characters and settings. Instead of acting as an accent to enhance and flesh out said characters and settings, they become lost and even replaced by them, to the extent that it becomes tiresome. Excess is the rule and not the exception here. Everyone is rich, thin, beautiful, and has the ultimate in clothing, shoes, cars, or connections, even those that are deemed "ungettable" or "unobtainable", our heroine Flora and her clique of friends have to the point that it becomes meaningless and sadly, tedious to the point of pretension. It is not uncommon for Ms. Swan to write up to an entire paragraph to describe what Flora or someone within her group is wearing. Which is a great shame, since this story is based on some real events and uses the tragedy of what so many people lost during WW2 as it's backdrop. I guess this book is written more for people who enjoy a good romance story than someone like me who is more interested in historical fiction. Still, there were some parts of this book that were entertaining and some even beautifully written descriptions of places that most of us will never travel to or see, and reading this piqued my interest in what happened to so many lost or stolen pieces of art during the Second World War. If only Ms. Swan had written her characters more believably instead of the two-dimensional ones we are presented with, because I would have liked to have become more connected and engaged with them. One and a half stars out of five.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    THE PARIS SECRET is such a fabulous book. From the start, the story engrossed me as Flora, a fine art agent from London, arrived in Paris together with her boss to visit an apartment that has been locked since World War II. What secrets does the apartment have? Why has the apartment been locked and forgotten for so long time? But as Flora begins investigating the history of the paintings that are found in the apartment, she realizes maybe the apartment was left that way for a reason. READ THE RES THE PARIS SECRET is such a fabulous book. From the start, the story engrossed me as Flora, a fine art agent from London, arrived in Paris together with her boss to visit an apartment that has been locked since World War II. What secrets does the apartment have? Why has the apartment been locked and forgotten for so long time? But as Flora begins investigating the history of the paintings that are found in the apartment, she realizes maybe the apartment was left that way for a reason. READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    With a Karen Swan book for me it is either a deep interesting read, even if not quick read or a struggle. This one was brilliant full of mystery and was rather a quick read once I got into it. It is dark in places but that just adds to the quality of the story. 4 stars

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    This book had a lot of potential but it came up a little short for me. I thought the whole idea was fascinating, nothing like an abandoned apartment in Paris to grab my interest! I really enjoyed how the historical aspect was woven in as well, it really added something extra to the story. Where it fell short for me was the characters, I didn’t particularly like any of them and they just didn’t make me feel anything.

  10. 4 out of 5

    DJ Sakata

    My Rating: 4.5 Favorite Quotes: She could feel the lives that had once pulsed here, the social gaiety that must have been enjoyed in this very room before the horrors of war and then the enduring silence afterwards. The neglected apartment reclaimed at long last. The past was stirring and shaking off the dust. The neighbours would soon know, then the city, until finally, when the sale was announced, the entire world. After seventy-three years of silence, the secret was finally slipping out. He ran hi My Rating: 4.5 Favorite Quotes: She could feel the lives that had once pulsed here, the social gaiety that must have been enjoyed in this very room before the horrors of war and then the enduring silence afterwards. The neglected apartment reclaimed at long last. The past was stirring and shaking off the dust. The neighbours would soon know, then the city, until finally, when the sale was announced, the entire world. After seventy-three years of silence, the secret was finally slipping out. He ran his hands through his hair, pulling so tight at the roots he gave himself a momentary facelift. Flora was seated next to Sylvie, a seventy-six-year-old woman with the skin of a baby who proceeded to regale Flora with merry tales of her widowhood and, in particular, her current torrid affair with the butcher. My Review: Despite taking the required Art Appreciation courses in college, what I have actually retained and know about fine art could fit on a Post-it note, and the same could be said about French geography. So the in-depth analysis of various works of art and masters’ techniques were rather lost on me, although I did employ my good friend Mr. Google a few times for an assist. I was unaware until reaching the acknowledgments that the germination of the book was sparked by a news item of found art and “painfully true events.” The Paris Secret was my first experience reading Karen Swan’s skillful word-craft, although having a taste of her talent I now plan to follow her like a disciple. I was engaged by the premise and intriguing storylines but was captivated by her fluid writing style, cleverly tantalizing pace, and profoundly vivid descriptions. I was continually taken with her agile and sly deployment of unusual and unexpected items that were seemingly peripheral or inconsequential to the scene, yet were intricately detailed in such a vibrant manner that never failed to pluck at my curiosity or heighten my amusement and pleasure. However, I was conflicted with the integrity of these rather contemptible characters as very few of them displayed admirable qualities, and I was looking hard hoping to find some, but thankfully that problem resolved during the final two chapters with several clever plot twists that caused me to blink and paved the way for a highly satisfying conclusion. Sigh, Karen Swan has stealthy ninja writing skills… more, please.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    If you took out the entirely useless side plots of her brother and her love life, maybe this would have been okay. The editor needed to do a better job. Flora has this high-flying job, yet her and her boss can't afford a data plan and they're always waiting for a wifi connection? Or Ines has a professional skateboarder for a boyfriend, and her favourite "trick" is to ride goofy foot? The book comes so close to addressing interesting questions and situations, like fortunes made from buying and sel If you took out the entirely useless side plots of her brother and her love life, maybe this would have been okay. The editor needed to do a better job. Flora has this high-flying job, yet her and her boss can't afford a data plan and they're always waiting for a wifi connection? Or Ines has a professional skateboarder for a boyfriend, and her favourite "trick" is to ride goofy foot? The book comes so close to addressing interesting questions and situations, like fortunes made from buying and selling art during WWII, or even describing that art. Why write a book about art if you're never actually going to describe what makes it good? Xavier is a terrible character and couldn't be more one-dimensional if he was run over with a steamroller. He goes from terrible manipulative and abusive man to.... terrible manipulative and abusive man, but one that Flora is IN LOVE WITH. Nevermind that Flora has adamantly never been in love but once Xavier looks at her the right way SHE KNOWS. And by the end, they still haven't really had a real conversation. Her brother's storyline was unnecessary. By the time he was brought up again, I'd forgotten about the terrible cliffhanger from the first chapter. Throughout, I couldn't have cared less about what was going to happen to him, or what crime he supposedly committed. Then, the whole handling of his crime was a bit tone deaf. How did no one notice this added nothing to the story? The main plot of the story comes so close to being interesting, but even this doesn't count for much as the interesting bits (the lost apartment and Nazi art dealings) are actual historic events.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Absolutely thrilled when I won this book in the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. This is the third book that I have read by Karen Swan that I have read. Up until earlier this year, I had never read any of her books, but that all changed when I found two in a local charity shop. I enjoyed reading this book as much as I did her previous two (Christmas in the Snow and The Summer Without You). I very rarely write what a story is about for fear of spoiling for others, but I do highly recommend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    When "urban explorers" (people who enter places they are not allowed) find an apartment in Paris that has laid empty since WWII secrets are exposed and a family worst nightmare is realized. Flora Sykes works for an art agency and is called in to assess the hundred of pieces of art, sculpture, and objects found in an abandoned Paris apartment. We come to find out that the apartment is owned by the rich and high powered Vermeil family. As secrets begin to unfold, a family is torn apart, and a part When "urban explorers" (people who enter places they are not allowed) find an apartment in Paris that has laid empty since WWII secrets are exposed and a family worst nightmare is realized. Flora Sykes works for an art agency and is called in to assess the hundred of pieces of art, sculpture, and objects found in an abandoned Paris apartment. We come to find out that the apartment is owned by the rich and high powered Vermeil family. As secrets begin to unfold, a family is torn apart, and a part of history is brought to light. I don't want to say too much about this book because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. But I will say that I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!! Total page turner, I stayed up late into the night to finish it. It has everything I love - history, art, love. It left me wishing I could find an abandoned apartment in Paris myself (mostly so I could live in it, but you know what I mean). The writing is sublime and the premise very inventive and engaging. It makes my favorites of 2018 list for sure!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    World War II, nazis, intrigue, secrets, romance, fine art, a stolen baby, a locked room—what a story! Too bad I didn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not bad. In fact, It’s pretty solid in many respects. But despite the amazing content, I thought it was boring. I know that’s only my opinion, and other people loved it (and I’m glad they did), but I thought the first half, at least, was really, really boring. I wouldn’t have finished it if it hadn’t been a book club read, and even then, it was a World War II, nazis, intrigue, secrets, romance, fine art, a stolen baby, a locked room—what a story! Too bad I didn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not bad. In fact, It’s pretty solid in many respects. But despite the amazing content, I thought it was boring. I know that’s only my opinion, and other people loved it (and I’m glad they did), but I thought the first half, at least, was really, really boring. I wouldn’t have finished it if it hadn’t been a book club read, and even then, it was a close call. I don’t know how a story with this much going on could be anything less than gripping, but this was. Again, this is only my opinion, and it was only my own experience. That said, the story picked up about halfway through and got a lot better, and I enjoyed most of the rest of the book. I think with better editing this could have been a much stronger narrative. There are lots of details about things that don’t matter, and stuff that’s really interesting is shoved into the background and never addressed. My thoughts: The plot, once it gets going, is really pretty good. There are plenty of twists and turns, and not every character is being honest. The secrets are nicely set up. I don’t know much about art, but I didn’t need to in order to follow the story. The artwork is central to the plot, but information about art that’s important to the story is explained in the story. I didn’t like the romance; the whole good-girl-falls-for-bad-boy type has been done before, and this doesn’t take it in any new direction. He says he’s bad for her and should leave. Then he doesn’t. He says she’s somehow special, different from everyone else (but he doesn’t say how). The whole book really fell apart for me with the storyline about the brother. The very first chapter introduces Flora, her brother, and their parents. They’re nice people, and Swan really made me want to know more about them. The brother has a terrible secret, but we don’t know what. He’s in trouble, but we don’t know why. Chapter one ends with him about to tell Flora. Chapter two opens with Flora already knowing, but the readers don’t, and she has gone off to Paris to look into the apartment with artwork, something completely unrelated to her brother’s crisis, whatever that is. In chapter two, I wanted to know. As the story progresses, Flora is troubled, but we readers still don’t know why. If the main character is bothered by something, readers probably should know about it. The author keeps dropping tantalizing hints about the brother’s mysterious trouble, but now we’re shut out of both characters’ minds. A third of the way through, I still wanted to know. Half way through, I felt really distant from all the characters, but I was still kinda curious. The big reveal (the one that the characters themselves knew from chapter one) doesn’t happen until 73% into the story, and by then, I really didn’t care. She was trying to sustain the tension, I think, but she killed it. And that leads me to my biggest issue: I don’t know anything about Flora. She spends almost three quarters of the book struggling with some mysterious problem, so how she feels or what she does is never really described. She’s the main character, but she doens’t have much personality, and she just goes along with everything that happens to her. She never came alive in the way that other book characters did for me. I know how Scarlett O’Hara or Atticus Finch might react in a given situation because I know their characters so well. I have no idea what Flora would do in any circumstance. It’s not a bad book, certainly, and when it finally gets going, it’s really something. In fact, this book does something very unusual for a WWII novel: (view spoiler)[It turns an evil nazi into a sympathetic character. (hide spoiler)] Now THAT’s really interesting. It just took too long to happen that I’m not sure it was worth the wait. This book is like a picture that focuses on the wrong thing. It’s definitely solid, and parts of it are interesting, but it could have been so much more.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    An apartment in Paris that has been sealed since WWII is finally opened and it contains a glittering array of priceless art works. Even more mysteriously another apartment is found owned by the same family. It contains one piece of art and it's very existence is a closely guarded secret. Flora Sykes a young and attractive art expert is hired by the family to bring the paintings to auction. Complicating the matter is the fact that a large amount of undiscovered random paintings found in an apartm An apartment in Paris that has been sealed since WWII is finally opened and it contains a glittering array of priceless art works. Even more mysteriously another apartment is found owned by the same family. It contains one piece of art and it's very existence is a closely guarded secret. Flora Sykes a young and attractive art expert is hired by the family to bring the paintings to auction. Complicating the matter is the fact that a large amount of undiscovered random paintings found in an apartment from the era of WWII smacks of Nazi involvement. The family also has two obnoxious descendants who seem determined to make Flora's life as miserable as possible for no discernible reason. If all that isn't enough Flora's thoughts are back home with her brother who is facing a charge of rape. As Flora investigated the paintings and comes closer to the truth she finds herself immersed in a love triangle as the secret of the Paris apartment threatens to destroy the Vermil family. It was very difficult to get into this book at first. Every chapter ended in a cliff hanger and the new chapter started on a completely different topic. Once the story finally settled in and stuck to a more progressive build up it got much better. I was especially interested in the parts of the story as it related to WWII. I think the book could have been improved if it spent more time in the WWII period. Instead we only get a glimpse of the past through brief letters written by the patriarch of the family revealed at the end of the book. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if it had been told in two time periods allowing for more development of the characters in the WWII era. The real life discovery of an apartment not opened in 70 years was the inspiration for this story. While I am glad that I finally finished this book I think there are better novels written about this era.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I have to admit that if a book has the word PARIS in the title, I am going to read it. Sometimes I get a good book and sometimes not. This time I was thrilled because this is a fantastic book. I have never read anything else by Karen Swan but I plan to read her previous books. This book had all of the hallmarks of a fantastic book - wonderful settings - not just Paris but also Vienna, England and the south of France - interesting characters - the main character Flora as well as all of the support I have to admit that if a book has the word PARIS in the title, I am going to read it. Sometimes I get a good book and sometimes not. This time I was thrilled because this is a fantastic book. I have never read anything else by Karen Swan but I plan to read her previous books. This book had all of the hallmarks of a fantastic book - wonderful settings - not just Paris but also Vienna, England and the south of France - interesting characters - the main character Flora as well as all of the supporting characters. I especially enjoyed Flora's best friend Ines. - romance - an interesting relationship between Flora and Xavier - mystery - how and why were all of those paintings hidden in an apartment in Paris for over 50 years. Flora is a high powered fine art agent and is thrilled to be asked to look at a recently discovered abandoned apartment in Paris. Underneath all of the dust and debris and hundreds of paintings and sculptures, Flora found a missing Renoir that had been lost for years. While trying to trace the painting's past purchasers, she found out information that could ruin the lives of the glamorous heirs of the apartment. What she does with that information makes this a thrilling and interesting book. This book is so much fun to read. It's full of the beauty of Paris, the beautiful clothes and a whole group of very interesting characters. Parts of the book take place during WWII but the main focus is on the modern day mystery of the Renoir painting. I found this a book that was impossible to put down once I started reading it. Thanks to the publisher for a copy to read and review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Shephard

    What a wonderful and beautiful tale. I just adored this novel. I love all things French and when the doors of Apartment number 8 were opened for me I just got lost in the dust, the beauty and the art. Along with Flora and Angus, I became engrossed in the Renoirs and the other priceless artifacts that have been lain untouched for 70 years. I also have to admit that I Googled like mad at every piece that was described and not only did I enjoy the ride, I also learned quite a bit too. Karen Swan is a What a wonderful and beautiful tale. I just adored this novel. I love all things French and when the doors of Apartment number 8 were opened for me I just got lost in the dust, the beauty and the art. Along with Flora and Angus, I became engrossed in the Renoirs and the other priceless artifacts that have been lain untouched for 70 years. I also have to admit that I Googled like mad at every piece that was described and not only did I enjoy the ride, I also learned quite a bit too. Karen Swan is a creative and brilliant storyteller. She weaves her tale in the most absorbing and thrilling of ways and this stylish and chic story is one that I just didn't want to end. Flora is a gifted and totally relate-able character and I loved her. The war and Nazi theme was interesting and somewhat sad, although this did add a lot to the 'feel' of the story. It really made the book a thoughtful read. This book is the perfect summer read and one that will kept on my shelf and re-read. Perfect.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kiersten

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is not awful, but it's not great. There were definitely a few problems. First and foremost: the incompetent female protagonist (at least for the first half of the book; I warmed up to her a bit once she broke up with Noah after the car auction). Yes, Flora was very thin (it was incredibly important to the author that we all know this), but despite her low BMI and ability to wear miu miu mini skirts, she was also kind of terrible. WHY? Why do so many female protagonists have to be incom This book is not awful, but it's not great. There were definitely a few problems. First and foremost: the incompetent female protagonist (at least for the first half of the book; I warmed up to her a bit once she broke up with Noah after the car auction). Yes, Flora was very thin (it was incredibly important to the author that we all know this), but despite her low BMI and ability to wear miu miu mini skirts, she was also kind of terrible. WHY? Why do so many female protagonists have to be incompetent, if not at their jobs, then at relationships? And Flora was kind of terrible in both arenas. First of all, maybe don't tell your gossipy socialite friend and your magazine editor friend that you've just found a treasure trove of art in an abandoned apartment owned by powerful rich people who may or may not have ties to Nazi collaborators, if you don't want that information to get out. Spoiler alert: that is not going to end well. Xander may have forgiven you for having a brother who is an accused rapist (Note: Xander only forgives her for having a brother who is an accused rapist after Freddie is acquitted. I understand why Xander was upset about Freddie, but his reaction is not okay.). However, Xander's probably not going to be so willing to move on (rightfully, this time) when he learns, as he INEVITABLY will, that you are actually the one who sold out his family to Vanity Fair. Also, if you are going to make your protagonist terrible at her job in the form of screaming at and slapping her client's children, at least let her own that. This is how that scene should have played out: Flora slapped Natascha because Natascha deserved it and screamed at Xander because he did, too. But nope, instead Flora slapped Natascha because cat fight! And then she screamed at Xander because she's a woman and after all, women do tend to be hysterical mostly all the time. And finally with regards to Flora's suitability for employment, you cannot just steal decades-old family letters from your clients' recently-discovered art horde apartment. And maybe don't fall asleep in the doorway of the room where the priceless art collection is being kept, leaving it exposed to the elements all night in a super humid climate. What is even happening?! Now on to what's really important: Flora's relationships. First of all, drop Ines. No friend should ever pressure you that much about your love life. That is what terrible old aunts are for. Why are you hanging out with her so much? And also, why is Ines hanging out with Flora so much? She was incompetent and boring for the first half of the book and surly and boring for the second half. Not exactly, "hey, I'm going to just give you the spare room in my Paris apartment for free" kind of material. Also, the stalking home through the rain and refusing to accept a ride thing was stupid and irritating. Just another example of stubborn, irrational women who need to learn to submit to the men in their lives who know better. In the movie trailer, there will be a male narrator and he'll say something like, "she was a stubborn filly, and only he could tame her." Kudos for dumping Noah though. That whole car auction scene was gross. Now, about Xander: haven't we moved past the, "he's hot because he's angry/domineering/aggressive/violent/hates me" crap yet? I'm over the idea that we're supposed to absolve horrible men of their horrible behavior just because something sad once happened to them. Especially when the sad thing didn't even happen to him. This line: "The shy tilt of her head suggesting feminine power." WHAT. NO. Also this line: “She wanted to hate him...She hated to want him.” BOOO! No! Go back to Twilight where you belong! And finally, can we all please agree that no one should use the word "tummy" in a sex scene ever again? Ewww. So gross. I did like the twist about Francois Vermeil really being the Nazi art collector guy (I'm sorry; I can't remember his name, and I'm not going to look it up). That was pretty good, and I didn't see it coming. I also loved the descriptions of the South of France. I thought it captured the feeling of the region well and was perfectly escapist, especially during a Massachusetts winter. I'm also grateful that the book didn't flip back and forth between Flora and a character from the 1940s (either Magda or the Haas lady in the portrait), because I am so tired of that device, but I would have liked to see more of their perspectives somehow.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marla

    I really enjoyed this book. It probably could have been a lot bigger if there was more details thrown in but I thought the pacing was really good. I always like to learn things about what went on during WWII and now people survived. I also love Paris so I enjoyed the international feel. I didn't even care that there wasn't much substance to Flora and Xavier's relationship but it made sense with the reaction they had to each other. Sometimes it happens very quickly. The side story about Flora's b I really enjoyed this book. It probably could have been a lot bigger if there was more details thrown in but I thought the pacing was really good. I always like to learn things about what went on during WWII and now people survived. I also love Paris so I enjoyed the international feel. I didn't even care that there wasn't much substance to Flora and Xavier's relationship but it made sense with the reaction they had to each other. Sometimes it happens very quickly. The side story about Flora's brother didn't make any sense until later in the book. I felt like it was thrown in there and then we were left hanging what his dark secret was that could ruin the family. I felt this book was all about Flora and how she reacted to different things happening in her life. The one thing that made me actually laugh out loud was when her boss said enough already, stop trying to quit. I really enjoyed this book and I will be recommending it to friends and family.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Well written with good atmospheric passages which transport the reader into the heart of Paris, Vienna, Antibes and London. After a property has been broken into in Paris a long-forgotten apartment is discovered that contains priceless artworks dating back to Vichy France. The building is owned by the Vermeil family who had no idea of the apartments existence until they are informed that the building has been broken into. Madame Vermeil is anxious to know what is in the apartment. We are introduc Well written with good atmospheric passages which transport the reader into the heart of Paris, Vienna, Antibes and London. After a property has been broken into in Paris a long-forgotten apartment is discovered that contains priceless artworks dating back to Vichy France. The building is owned by the Vermeil family who had no idea of the apartments existence until they are informed that the building has been broken into. Madame Vermeil is anxious to know what is in the apartment. We are introduced to Flora a fine art adviser and auctioneer who is sent to Paris to verify artworks that might be in the apartment, clearly these art artworks seized during the Nazi occupation which is why they were hidden away for so long. Flora has to authenticate the artworks but can only trace them back to Franz von Taschelt, a Jew who appears to have swindled fellow Jews out of their collections during Nazi rule. Of course, under these circumstances no one wants to touch the paintings so the collections in terms of selling on is worthless. Flora is set up in Vienna in one of the Vermeil family homes to start cataloguing the collection and meets Xavier the owners son a brooding mysterious character who despite herself Flora is attracted to. Well written characters, good story subject that takes us back in time to WW11 and the German occupation and secrets that span decades waiting to be discovered along with a romance thrown in for good measure. Lovely introduction to the art world that would be good holiday reading material. A well deserved 4 stars from me. I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I judged this book entirely by its title. I have a weakness for all things French, and I love books set in France. I loved the concept of a secret apartment that hadn't been entered in 75 years. What mysteries would it hold? How would they matter today? The Paris Secret was inspired by the true story of a Paris apartment that remained untouched and unknown for 70 years. It was rediscovered in 2013 full of art and artifacts frozen in time. This was the perfect novel to escape with for an afternoon w I judged this book entirely by its title. I have a weakness for all things French, and I love books set in France. I loved the concept of a secret apartment that hadn't been entered in 75 years. What mysteries would it hold? How would they matter today? The Paris Secret was inspired by the true story of a Paris apartment that remained untouched and unknown for 70 years. It was rediscovered in 2013 full of art and artifacts frozen in time. This was the perfect novel to escape with for an afternoon while enjoying a glass of red wine. Flora was an excellent no-nonsense character who had to navigate the intense family drama surrounding the apartment she was brought in to inventory. It was easy to be on her side throughout the novel. This was my first novel by Karen Swan, and I truly loved her writing. She blended the elements of history, art, mystery, French culture, and even romance, into one interesting story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    a wonderful read. I remember when they found all the art in the apartment in Paris a few years ago. to create this wonderful novel out of this story , is sheer inspiration. I really liked all the characters , even natascha. In places I was close to tears at the story told and the imagination of such past events. the description of the art has been a pleasure to read too. if you like art , you like history then pick up this book and read it. I read it in one sitting and it's a Favourite this year a wonderful read. I remember when they found all the art in the apartment in Paris a few years ago. to create this wonderful novel out of this story , is sheer inspiration. I really liked all the characters , even natascha. In places I was close to tears at the story told and the imagination of such past events. the description of the art has been a pleasure to read too. if you like art , you like history then pick up this book and read it. I read it in one sitting and it's a Favourite this year and definitely deserves it's 5* rating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    The Paris Secret is the second book about, or based on the discovery and opening up of the real abandoned Paris apartment which had sat untouched for 70 years after the owner fled at the outbreak of World War II. (My review for that book The Paris Time Capsule is here.) I find the subject so intriguing, the description of the book sounded different enough from the other and I was curious to see what this author would do with the inspiration and I was not disappointed. Karen Swan puts the emphasi The Paris Secret is the second book about, or based on the discovery and opening up of the real abandoned Paris apartment which had sat untouched for 70 years after the owner fled at the outbreak of World War II. (My review for that book The Paris Time Capsule is here.) I find the subject so intriguing, the description of the book sounded different enough from the other and I was curious to see what this author would do with the inspiration and I was not disappointed. Karen Swan puts the emphasis on the art in this book and the descriptions of it and the history she imagines surrounding the apartment and its occupants easily transported me to present day Paris, as well as made me imagine what it must have been like at the dawning of the war. I liked Flora, although she is focused on her work as an art agent (which sounds fascinating), she cares for her family, especially her older brother who is facing a life-changing accusation. The family that owns the apartment and who Flora is working for is interesting, even if most of its members are not totally likable and Flora's research uncovers deep secrets and scandals that could easily topple them. These side plots add to the drama of the story of the treasures in the Paris apartment and where they came from. I enjoyed the focus on the apartment and artwork more than the romance that formed for Flora--which didn't quite click for me--but there was enough in the story that did to make me overlook it. I don't know a lot about art, other than to appreciate it, but I could follow along and I felt like I learned something about fine art and the auction world which had me checking out some things on line along the way--always a good sign of how interested I am in a subject. With the beautiful writing and intriguing story, The Paris Secret made for a nice escape and had me not wanting to set it down as I really wanted to find out what would happen. If you like art, fashion, history, mystery and/or romance, you should enjoy this one. It's my first book from Karen Swan but I will definitely be checking out her other work. You can see my review, plus a recipe inspired by the book on my blog post here: http://kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/20... Note: A review copy of "The Paris Secret" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cori

    This book had everything I enjoy in a book, strong female character, art, descriptions of life in Europe, a love interest, and a mystery. I couldn't wait to read this book each evening!! This was a Goodreads giveaway that I won and am so glad I found this book! It really was the perfect match for me! This book had everything I enjoy in a book, strong female character, art, descriptions of life in Europe, a love interest, and a mystery. I couldn't wait to read this book each evening!! This was a Goodreads giveaway that I won and am so glad I found this book! It really was the perfect match for me!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shilpa

    Art. Mystery. Romance. Everything you expected from Paris, and more. Beautiful marketing by the team @PGCBooks Despite the title, The Paris Secret is not wholly set in The City of Light. Rather, Karen Swan's latest novel spans Paris, Vienna, Antibes, and London, and takes you on an adventure that uncovers both hidden pasts, and secrets of epic proportions. Down a Paris cobbled street, a long-forgotten dust cloaked apartment is found. But there is more to the story; there is a secret -- the apartm Art. Mystery. Romance. Everything you expected from Paris, and more. Beautiful marketing by the team @PGCBooks Despite the title, The Paris Secret is not wholly set in The City of Light. Rather, Karen Swan's latest novel spans Paris, Vienna, Antibes, and London, and takes you on an adventure that uncovers both hidden pasts, and secrets of epic proportions. Down a Paris cobbled street, a long-forgotten dust cloaked apartment is found. But there is more to the story; there is a secret -- the apartment contains contains priceless art that dates back to Vichy France. Why did Madame Vermeil's father-in-law keep the apartment hidden from his family, with only a letter that outlined it's whereabouts and specific instructions that it not be accessed until after his wife's death? So, how does the secret come out? After the property has been broken into, the letter is forwarded to the family informing them of the apartment's existence. Although Madame Vermeil's mother-in-law is alive, she is eager to see what's in the apartment. Her father-in-law was an astute man and art was his entire world. Enter our protagonist Flora, a fine art adviser and auctioneer, who receives a frantic message from her boss Angus, telling her she has to be in Paris first thing in the morning. If there's art in the apartment, then they need to verify it's authenticity. And there is, a long lost Renoir. From the onset it's hard not to like Flora. Caring, smart, ambitious, independent, with detective skills to impress. She's like a grown up Nancy Drew. She's not a girly girl, but can hold her own in any setting (well, almost); and she's not pining over love, so it doesn't feel like an overarching (and dare I say formulaic) love story. That being said, one criticism of the book is that towards its latter half the story leans towards the sentimental. Karen Swan is a good writer. She has put passion into the Parisian landscape with élan. And having just been to Paris last year, her beautiful prose placed me back into those perfectly unforgettable moments. Full review: http://sukasareads.blogspot.com/2016/...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maii

    Why didnt I know about this book before? I was just walking down the street and thought I would go in and see if there were any good books to maybe read (as one does) and there it was. There were two copies and I like all books that have ‘Paris’ in the title so I picked it up and read the back cover. I was hooked! It had romance, a mystery, art and history. I had nothing against the plot and I’m usually very picky about these books. I just finished the book and I’m still high on the ending. First o Why didnt I know about this book before? I was just walking down the street and thought I would go in and see if there were any good books to maybe read (as one does) and there it was. There were two copies and I like all books that have ‘Paris’ in the title so I picked it up and read the back cover. I was hooked! It had romance, a mystery, art and history. I had nothing against the plot and I’m usually very picky about these books. I just finished the book and I’m still high on the ending. First of all, the writing is magical. It draws you in, its detailed and you feel you’re right there with Flora. I was on the edge of my seat trying to read as fast as I can, making my own assumption trying to figure out the truth. Surprisingly, once the ending started approaching, I was wishing for more pages to read. The romance is not the main part in the book. I would usually complain about this, however this book is more than about love and romance. It’s about the lengths we’re willing to go to, to protect our loved ones. It’s about monsters, and how they’re not always what they seem. I wanted more, I wanted to see what happens to the other characters,, what happens after the beautiful ending. I wouldnt say no to a sequel full of conversations between Xavier and Flora. This is the kind of book, that will make me stop reading for a few weeks, trying to find a similar book and failing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Heather Webb

    This was a fast and fun read; a perfect palate cleanser after several denser, more serious books, and yet, the writing was still lovely and accessible. Plus, when you toss in an art mystery and a brooding French hottie, I'm in. Good fun! This was a fast and fun read; a perfect palate cleanser after several denser, more serious books, and yet, the writing was still lovely and accessible. Plus, when you toss in an art mystery and a brooding French hottie, I'm in. Good fun!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susu

    Art theft during the Nazi occupation of France, mixed in with a modern day love story with a few strange twists and turns - entertaining popcorn read v

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    Flora Sykes, the daughter of a chief auctioneer at Christie’s, grew up in the world of fine art and began a glamorous career as a fine art agent. When a long forgotten apartment belonging to a wealthy client is discovered, Flora is sent to Paris to work on assessing the value of the artwork found in the apartment. As Flora gets deeper into the job, she uncovers deeply hidden family secrets, World War II intrigue and embarks on her own passionate romance. This is a novel that will satisfy mystery, Flora Sykes, the daughter of a chief auctioneer at Christie’s, grew up in the world of fine art and began a glamorous career as a fine art agent. When a long forgotten apartment belonging to a wealthy client is discovered, Flora is sent to Paris to work on assessing the value of the artwork found in the apartment. As Flora gets deeper into the job, she uncovers deeply hidden family secrets, World War II intrigue and embarks on her own passionate romance. This is a novel that will satisfy mystery, romance and historical fictions readers. I thought there were a few loose ends and a few surprises, but the ending was satisfying and I enjoyed the novel overall. I was also fascinated to discover that the novel was based on the discovery of an abandoned apartment in Paris--locked up since WWII-- that was in the news a few years ago. I am happy to give my honest review and would like to thank Goodreads for the First Reads giveaway.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mayda

    Flora is an art expert, buying art for clients, evaluating pieces, and researching the authenticity of ownership of artwork. When many pictures are discovered in an abandoned apartment, she is tasked with tracing their path of ownership for the family who now owns them. But as she goes down that path, Flora soon discovers how twisted it is, and plagued with secrets. Meanwhile, her own family is dealing with a secret of their own. The first part of book is somewhat slow moving, and though the aut Flora is an art expert, buying art for clients, evaluating pieces, and researching the authenticity of ownership of artwork. When many pictures are discovered in an abandoned apartment, she is tasked with tracing their path of ownership for the family who now owns them. But as she goes down that path, Flora soon discovers how twisted it is, and plagued with secrets. Meanwhile, her own family is dealing with a secret of their own. The first part of book is somewhat slow moving, and though the author tries to build a bit of suspense with the gradual reveal of the secrets, the book is nearly over before it gets really interesting. A couple of twists will likely surprise readers, but everyone and her cousin will know how Flora’s romantic encounters will end long before the novel does.

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