Eight Weeks in Paris by S.R. Lane
June 7, 2022 by Carina Adores Press
Reviewed by Kate H.
Eight Weeks in Paris will be on my best books of 2022 list, I already know it.
This book takes place during the filming of a movie set in Paris during the early years of the 20th century. S.R. Lane’s debut novel is a romance between Nicholas Madden, an esteemed and serious movie actor and his costar Chris Lavalle, a French man whose experience lies in modeling, not the movies. The movie they are filming, in Paris, is based on a rediscovered love story about two very different men.
Nicholas loves the book, The Throne, and is dismayed when Chris is cast in the role. Chris acting credentials are slim and unimpressive. Nicholas arrives in Paris ready to put Chris to the test. He’d like to intimidate Chris out of the role, but barring that he seems determined to live up to his reputation as the Big Bad Wolf, being rude and demanding. It’s not exactly enemies-to-lovers, because Chris’s respect for Nicholas seems to give him a well of patience to draw from. The enmity goes mainly one way. But it is delicious to watch Chris challenge Nicholas’s assumptions as the book progresses. When they finally come together it is in a rewarding sequence of comfort and heat.
Even without the “real life” romance that develops between the characters, the push-pull between the two of them rehearsing for the movie scenes was electric. Chris’s interpretation of his role as Angelo is different than what Nicholas envisioned for the film, but as they act together, they create something new and exciting. While the book focuses on the immediate filming, we also get some interesting reflections from Chris about modeling, body positivity, and empowerment.
The writing in this book is just sumptuous. I found myself highlighting passage after passage as I read, wanting to hold onto the language. You can tell that Lane is also a poet from her fresh turns of phrases, It’s an atmospheric novel – so many dark nights, rain, and early mornings – but there is also some play there. Not ha-ha funny, but amusing and fresh:
“Chris had been a model since he was a teenager. The industry, a pitiless bucket of crabs, had shaped him. It had taught him never trust anyone easily.”
I do have to regret the book cover. Nothing against the illustration itself, but it doesn’t set the right expectations for the book. It evokes the idea of eight weeks in Paris as a lark and would be more suitable for a rom-com than this novel. If anyone asked me, and they did not, I would use a night-time photo of an outdoor square in Paris – the silhouette of two men in the distance, heads bent in conversation under the streetlight.