Review: Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay

*CW: cancer, death of a parent, death of a sibling, mentions self harm

Nothing sounds better than running off to Paris—or to the Irish countryside or sipping wine at a Tuscany vineyard—right now. But since that’s something that won’t be happening in the near future, Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay (out July 21st) was the perfect read for a European escape.

Synopsis: It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong post-college European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most talented fundraiser is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died, and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her gap year. Inspired to retrace her steps–to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy–Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago, can help her find it again.

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected. 

What I loved:

The premise. I really enjoyed the idea of Chelsea retracing her steps to potentially rekindle a romance with one of the three men she met while traveling Europe years ago. (Plus, it kind of *vaguely* reminded me of—and made me want to rewatch—the movie Letters to Juliet). I also loved the idea of retracing the moment when you last felt truly happy.

When we meet each of the men they aren’t the same people as they once were. The way Chelsea romanticized them and the places where she once found herself was very relatable. I think it’s easy to remember your past as being much better than it really was when you’re presently unhappy.

The travel bits. Books are the perfect escape & since traveling is definitely off the table this summer, it was nice touring the Irish countryside, Paris and a Tuscany vineyard through the pages of this story for a few days.

The romance. I thought the romance was really fun. Again, I loved that the men weren’t the same as she remembered and I even *surprising* ended up really liking her decision at the end.

What I didn’t connect with:

-Although I really admired that Chelsea was trying to break out of being closed off and took a chance to travel through Europe, the transition did feel just a tad rushed. And there were a few other moments throughout when I felt this again.

Rating 3.8-4/5

*I received an arc courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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