This was a book club pick and I have to say it was not well liked. Mostly the part set in 1917 was liked but the modern day story was a bust for most of us. I don’t like ballet, so I guess I was already setting myself up not to like this. However it was by an Australian author so I thought, great. Disappointing.
It was a great idea but frankly it read like a glorified Barbara Cartland book. I found myself skimming over large chunks and just reading some of the dialogue. It set itself up with all these story lines it was almost like Sinclair had a list of topics and just ticked them all off, instead of only a few. What were the editors thinking? If only it had stuck to the 1917 story and maybe book two could have been about Lily and her sister.
There were too many things that did not add up or make sense or were never explained. Why did their great grandmother come to Australia? Why were they celebrating a ballerina who had never danced a lead roll and what happened to her? How did the latest baron get the famous prints? Why include the dead drowned brother, or that Lily’s sister was in love with her boyfriend? There are many more unanswered questions, but I don’t want to spoil things too much( as if).
So if you like Mills and Boon books were you have girl meets boy, fall in love, some drama, and a HEA, then go for it. This really could have been so much more but it fell way short of being a good read. Even the cover annoys me. Try a sample, read it out loud and you will see (hear) for yourself. Disappointing!
Two years ago, Lily Johannson was robbed of happy ever after with her fiancé after an accident killed him, leaving her broken and unable to continue her ballet career. But now she's returned to Paris in hopes of finally moving on. So, when she meets Yves Rousseau, she's reluctant to give him a chance ,because it might lead to her forgetting what she had with her fiancé. Will Yves be able to help Lily overcome her grief, or is her grief too much to ever be able to get over?
This book is so different to anything I've read recently, as it blends the past (around the time of War) and the present to make a fantastic read that I could not put down. The way this story started had me liking the heroine immediately because of the strength she shows in being able to face the past to hopefully help her overcome her grief and be able to move on with her life. Not that it's easy, because she loved her fiancé very much and feels so much guilt over what happened to him. Will she ever realize she wasn't at fault? However, it was from the moment that the hero and heroine meet that had me intrigued, as the hero is a good man that needs some inspiration. Is the heroine his new inspiration?
As for the dialogue, it was intense and emotional due to the main characters back stories, everything the hero and heroine go through on their journey to happy ever after and everything the secondary characters go through in the past. Who will Viktoriya choose? What will happen to her, if she chooses the wrong man? Will Yves find a way to convince Lily to take a chance on him? Will Lily be able to overcome her grief and her guilt to be able to achieve happy ever after again? Moreover, the heroine is strong and brave in the way she faces the past head on, even though it takes her a while to get to where she needs to be. I also liked how determined she was to make things right with her sister who she once had a very close relationship with until her fiancé was killed in the accident. Will they ever be as close as they once were?
While the hero, he's following his dream of composing music, even though he's torn because of his old career and what his father wants for him in continuing to pursue his science career. I also liked how determined the hero was to win the heroine over, because he wants her, as she helps him to find which way he wants to take the music. Indeed, the heroine makes a good muse. Yet, what I liked most about the hero is that he wasn't afraid to say whatever was on his mind when it came to the heroine and all that she's going through to help her overcome the past and make her realize that she needs to find a way to move on.
Overall, Ms. Sinclair has penned a wonderful read in this book, which shows how the past can have an effect on the present, especially when it comes to the heroine's grief and her sister's pursuit to achieve the one thing she wanted -- the chance at her dream role in ballet. Moreover, the chemistry between Lily and Yves was intense and I loved how the hero helped the heroine to finally face the past and shows her that a second chance at happy ever after is worth it. The way this story ended had me so completely happy, as Lily needed to find a way to win back the hero and I liked the way she went about it. Expressing her feelings isn't easy, but I'm glad that she took a chance because she and Yves are good together. I would recommend Under the Parisian Sky by Alli Sinclair, if you enjoy second chance romances; books that bounce back and forth between the past and the present; or books by authors Ann O'Loughlin, Lily Woodhouse, Pamela Hart and Sara Foster.
Alli Sinclair is an Australian author with a passion for dance, and it shows. Beneath the Parisian Skies is part of the Wandering Skies series, which I was not aware of until after reading the book. Don't be put off though because there doesn't actually seem to be anything linking the books except a theme.
Beneath the Parisian Skies has a FREE prequel, only available digitally, which I only looked into after reading the novel - but that didn't stop me from ordering Parisian Dreams and devouring it. The prequel is three chapters that sets the scene for the novel, it is hard for me to say what it adds to the experience because I read it after I finished the book. It is not imperative but certainly worth the read. It gives a short background and allows us to see how Lily found herself in Paris.
There is a strong historical element to Beneath the Parisian Skies. The entire story is set in Paris but we have two timelines, Paris in 1917 and Present Day Paris. The historical element had me intrigued and on finishing the book I headed to Google to do a little research, the Ballets Russes did exist and some of the major players in the book were actual people but I think our leading lady was a product of Alli Sinclair.
Viktoria Budian is a ballerina with the Ballets Russes in 1917, she has escaped Russia with her life but had to leave her family behind. She is determined to make a new life for herself and earn enough to bring her family to safety in Paris.
Ballet is in her blood, her heart and soul. She has turned to dance to get her through the trying times in her life and she has channeled that passion to help unfortunate girls find a new purpose. Hers is a life of passion, dedicated to her art and helping people where she can.
The times are tough and the world is in turmoil and ballet may seem a little frivolous with so many lives in danger. But some think that's an even better reason to ensure that the arts flourish, to offer hope in a tumultuous world.
Her aspirations are all tied up with the ballet and moving up to leading lady from understudy but she is faced with the tough decision of putting love or her dreams first.
In the present Lily Johansson has returned to Paris to make peace with her past, and her estranged sister. Paris is the city of love, of romance, but for Lily it's the city that broke her heart and her career.
The two stories are linked by the ballet and there is also a character connection that isn't made clear until later in the book. The Bohème Ballet is looking to produce a ballet that honours the life of Viktoriya so we see snippets of her life through the lens of history as well as in chapters set in the past.
Sinclair has penned a poetic tale of history echoing its way into the present, it's not a case of history repeating but there are certainly similarities between the events of the past and what's going on in the present.
Lily is closed off from her life as she tries to get through the days since losing her fiancé, I would like to say moving on but she seems to quite actively resist moving on for a lot of the story.
Sinclair has written a story that celebrates the ballet while not romanticising it. She doesn't gloss over the gruelling workload, the blisters and the bruises; and the hard work to actually make it. There are so many positions in a ballet and you may never make it to the top and dance as a leading lady, sometimes the years of hardwork can get you into a prestigious ballet company but still leave you dancing as an understudy.
The beauty of the book is in the way Sinclair has woven the ballet into the lives of the characters, the ballet is part of their heart and soul and even when it's taken away it can't be escaped. Not being able to dance doesn't lessen the hold.
I enjoyed the way that the two stories weave around one another but I'm left wanting more of Viktoriya's story.
Lily returns to Paris to try to mend her relationship with her sister Natalie, who is trying for the role of Viktoriya in the new ballet. Her fixation on the role leads to an unhealthy obsession that very nearly ends her career before her star has had it's chance to shine. After having the door slammed in her face Lily is out walking in a park when she comes across Yves Rousseau and inspires him; only to discover that he is composing said ballet.
The storytelling is intricate as Sinclair weaves the magic of the ballet with love, loss, grief, dreams and the heart-wrenching journey to acceptance and moving on.
Paris is a place of such history and Sinclair paints it beautifully. I am not one who has ever really caught the travel bug, I don't feel the need to see other places but I do love to see places in my reading and I think if there was ever a place that I did decide I wanted to see... Paris would probably be it.
Beneath the Parisian Skies is an engaging tale of love, loss, grief and passion that has left me with images of the ballet playing behind my eyes.