Author: Dee Ernst
Overview from Goodreads:
A sparkling romantic comedy starring a bestselling author who goes to Paris to overcome writer’s block and rediscovers family, independence, and love along the way.
All Maggie Bliss needs to do is write. Forty-eight years old and newly single (again!), she ventures to Paris in a last-ditch effort to finish her manuscript. With a marvelous apartment at her fingertips and an elegant housekeeper to meet her every need, a finished book—and her dream of finally taking her career over the top—is surely within her grasp. After all, how could she find anything except inspiration in Paris, with its sophistication, food, and romance in the air?
But the clock is running out, and between her charming ex-husband arriving in France for vacation and a handsome Frenchman appearing one morning in her bathtub, Maggie’s previously undisturbed peace goes by the wayside. Charming and heartfelt, Dee Ernst’s Maggie Finds Her Muse is a delightful and feel-good novel about finding love, confidence, and inspiration in all the best places.
Maggie Bliss is a well-known romance writer whose new trilogy has shot her to a new level of fame and pressure as her second book is due to be released and her third book is nowhere close to being started. With deadlines looming and a pressing timeline, Maggie needs to get her writer’s block taken care of to ensure the summer release of the final novel.
I agree with other reviews that this novel draws parallels to “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” as Maggie hits a slump with herself and her writing so she changes locations and begins to rediscover herself. In the case of this novel, Maggie’s agent Lee offers the use of his Parisian apartment for her to stay and overcome her writer’s block. (This apartment sounds like a dream as I cannot imagine staying in a place in Paris that is that large – I have only ever been in those tiny shoebox apartments and wish I could stay in the described apartment!)
Paris is a fantastic setting for this story and the author describes the sights, food, and general atmosphere in just enough detail to make you imagine as if you are there. It was frustrating though how quickly Maggie picked up the Parisian lifestyle. It didn’t make sense with her character based on how lost and “unworldly” she was at the beginning of her journey. She’s never been to Paris before and seemed to pick it up extremely fast which didn’t seem that relatable. She did make some mistakes here and there, but she would run into little trouble – never getting on the wrong platform, making a wrong turn, etc. Even though with GPS on their phones or “good directions” make mistakes, but Maggie never seemed to experience this during her stay in Paris.
As an aside for the writing, the time jumping can be polarizing for readers as some might love it while others might hate it. As you finish reading one paragraph, you will suddenly jump to later in the future as the next paragraph begins. For me as a reader, I prefer at least some notice (dots, decorative punctuation, a space between paragraphs, etc.).
Max was a character who needed a lot more substance as he was nice and good-looking, but you never really get to know what makes him tick. He has multiple ex-wives, but it’s not fully explored aside from side notes here and there about why they divorced. He’s so agreeable with everything Maggie says and does that it just didn’t make sense at times as sure you can have an attraction where the little things might not bother you, but there was zero tension in just the day to day interactions. It wasn’t as relatable to me as I couldn’t understand how people from two different cultural upbringings could immediately understand everything about the other.
Maggie has three technical love interests in this story – her ex-boyfriend, her ex-husband, and Max (her French word-traveler banker). I loved how Maggie fully considered each and took the logical side when trying to figure how who best suited her. She gave each a chance and was open-minded about what would ultimately make her happy. One negative with her character was her food obsession as she could go hours and hours without eating one minute, but then she’s dying of hunger the next. In another moment, she would then be overwhelmed by the sites that she was okay with some light snacking. It just seemed all over the place. I’ve been to Paris a few times and I am fully food-obsessed where I think anything and everything I eat there is beyond amazing, but Maggie took it to a whole other level as she acted as if it were the nectar of the Gods with every item. It was a little excessive for my taste, but I can see the appeal of writing about how fantastic even those most basic items (like a salad) can be amazing in Paris. Overall, Maggie was a likable “mature” main character that could be a lesson to other authors not to discount this age group as they are just as compelling to read about as their younger counterparts.
Overall, this story was an excellent read. It is heart-warming and gives you all the warm fuzzy feelings that you would want in a romantic novel. The writing is easy enough to understand and it’s a fairly quick read. The characters are easy to keep track of and they are all likeable. There are flaws, just like with almost all novels, but the good definitely outweigh the negative that I would gladly re-read this book anytime!
**Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are completely my own.**