The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller
October 12, 2021, by St, Martin’s
Review by Angela
I am a big fan of historical romance when it’s mixed with some mystery and suspense, I’m an even bigger fan of historical romances with mysteries when they have some gothic, ghostly elements. I’m happy to report that The Brightest Star in Paris gave me all that and more.
This is a follow-up to the very popular The Widow of Rose House. If you enjoyed the love story between Alva and Sam, I think you will be just as happy with Sam’s brother Benedict’s romance and HEA. His heroine is Amelie St. James, a woman he met during a healing period in France shortly after he served as a surgeon in the Civil War. The bright, beautiful Amelie sweeps him away into a special friendship just when he needs her positive energy the most. She saves him from himself and helps him find a renewed sense of purpose. Then, right before the Prussian war, Benedict leaves France with his family to go back home to America. He has no idea just how profoundly the war will affect Parisians and Amelie.
Now it’s 12 years later and Benedict is back for a medical conference. He is in the process of starting a practice in New York dedicated to the study of the brain and is looking for doctors interested in joining him. He doesn’t plan on seeing the woman he fell for when he was a naive 19-year-old, but he runs into her the very first day. And this Amelie isn’t the same woman he remembers, the war that tore apart Paris almost broke her and now she is doing whatever she has to do to take care of her 11-year-old sister. Even if that means constant pain and acting a certain part to remain the Prima Ballerina of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Let’s just say she isn’t exactly thrilled to see Ben again, even though she still loves him. Until she starts seeing ghosts that is, and then it’s Ben (who has experience with this kind of stuff) who volunteers to help her figure out why.
This was such a poignant, emotional, second-chance romance. Ben and Amelie’s romance was so beautiful. I loved the flashback scenes of when they first met and the start of their relationship, it helped me understand them and their current feelings for each other better. They have a wonderful friendship as well as a deep love for each other. I do think Amelie’s personal journey was just as important to this story as the central romance. Her experiences during the war and relationships with her deceased mother and younger sister were driving factors in many of her decisions and how she views her place in the world. She is still working through the grief and anger over her mother’s death and how she was treated at the end of her life. She is also determined to live her life differently and not depend on anyone.
There are paranormal elements in the form of ghosts that Amelie sees, and they do serve the purpose of bringing Amelie and Ben together and for Amelie to see a way to connect with her mother in a different way when she realizes something about herself toward the end.
This was a pretty dark, heavy book, but the effervescent Moore family do bring bright spots with their antics and teasing and I am just as in love with this family as ever. I can’t wait to see them again. This was a wonderful historical romance and I am so looking forward to whatever journey this author takes her readers on next.
CW: Grief, illness, death, remembered scenes of war