MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-470-4
Contemporary Romance, 1998
Just when I thought the folks at MIRA have excised the word “risky” in their dictionary, they publish this modern version of Lolita. Cool. Okay, Once in Paris isn’t exactly an updated version of Vladimir Nabokov’s ode to forbidden passion. For one, the heroine Brianne’s an ancient 19 going on 20, and the writing style here is a far cry from Mr Nabokov’s rather acerbic style.
Brianne is one of those fabulously wealthy young woman I thought only existed in Judith Krantz’s novels. She is also independent, has a great sense of humor, and is genuinely intelligent (in a way), so I have no problems understanding the hero’s attraction to this young lady. So that’s a plus.
The hero is 39 going on 40. He’s the multimillionaire (of course) L Pierce Hutton who is a family friend, of all things. Actually, this whole romance isn’t as unhealthy as, say, those Hollywood pairings between geriatric male actors and young starlets barely out of their Seventeen centerfold days, so I can live with it.
Pierce is a nice man who is still mourning over his dead wife. And here, I must also say it’s nice that the late lamented Mrs Hutton isn’t the stereotypical bitch from hell. She’s dead, period, and she must had some nice qualities to get Piercey baby all gloomy over.
But what I do have quibbles about is the really inane plot. Bri is forced into marriage to some mad sex-fiend from Arabia (I sincerely hope this book doesn’t fall into the hands of some Middle Eastern fatwa-happy fundamentalists), and begs Pierce to relieve her of her virginity (I will try not to add in some jokes involving the hero’s name, I will not!). Pierce does just that, but since he’s a nice guy, he also proposes marriage.
Then they both do it in Paris. Once, twice, three times, mouths and fingers and all. Then it’s time for some James Bond conspiracy thing, where Bri and Pierce will have to save the Free Economy of the Free World (or something).
Once in Paris is campy and fun, and the sex-mad Arabic dude Phillippe is sexy. I don’t mind getting a guest-starring role as the Evil Other Woman of Phillippe myself. Pierce is bland and a bit boring, and I wonder if the hilarious irony of he forbidding Bri to drink alcohol after he has performed some very naughty nether-CPR on her is intentional. In fact, this one a bad, campy spy intrigue novel My only regret is, of course, darned, there’s no funny skanky sex between the hero and a mistress or something. Now that will top off the camp factor of this tale wonderfully.