New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Adler’s romantic French Riviera adventures are as addictive as the French rose her chic and sophisticated characters sip to celebrate every occasion. IT ALL BEGAN IN MONTE CARLO is a world-class beach read, complete with the scent of the sea, a little mystery, and sweeping vistas of the white yachts and luxury hotels that line the French coastline stretching along the Côte d’Azur from Monte Carlo to Cannes.
Sunny Alvarez is idolized by her longtime lover, the ruggedly handsome Mac Reilly. Their love affair began with one seductive look across a crowded room in Malibu, California, where Sunny is a public relations maven and Mac is the star of his own TV detective show, “Mac Reilly’s Malibu Mysteries.” Some couples are destined to be lovers: Bogie and Bacall. Antony and Cleopatra. Romeo and Juliet. Tracy and Hepburn. Add to that Sunny and Mac, who make us acutely aware of the sizzling effects of this kind of sexual chemistry.
Adler made females green with envy as Mac treated Sunny and her chihuahua, Tesoro, like queens in ONE OF THOSE MALIBU NIGHTS. She jetted us away to the beaches of the French Riviera in THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT ST. TROPEZ, and she pampers us with the abundant luxury of the Grand Hotel in IT ALL BEGAN IN MONTE CARLO. A tearful Sunny leaves her pink heart-shaped diamond engagement ring on Mac’s pillow on Christmas Eve and boards the first plane for Paris, taking her beloved Tesoro with her. Mac once again has postponed their wedding due to a case he is working on.
Thankfully, tears do not blur Sunny’s vision as she exchanges “Merry Christmas” wishes with the handsome man sipping champagne sitting across the aisle from her on the Air France flight to Paris. Adler feeds our fantasies when the kind stranger introduces himself: “Just call me your Prince Charming.” Prince Charming, aka wealthy Swedish businessman Eduardo Johanssen, suggests to Sunny that the seafront location of Monte Carlo is a bit warmer than Paris at Christmas and books a room for her, thus beginning her grand adventure next door to a Christmas Eve jewelry heist at the fashionable jeweler La Fontaine.
Meanwhile, back in Malibu, Mac is devastated and alone, missing his beloved Sunny: “His Sunny would never leave him.” Not only has she left him, women like Sunny attract men like diamonds attract women. Alone but not stupid, Sunny gratefully accepts Eddie’s suggestion and flies to Monte Carlo, treating herself to a luxurious suite in the Grand Hotel. Every woman knows the best Christmas gifts are the ones she purchases for herself! Sitting alone at the hotel bar, Sunny observes the cast of characters surrounding her. Kitty Ratte is a sexual predator, “blackmail was on her mind, but murder lurked in her heart.” Indian jewelry designer Maha Mondragon’s colorful saris and spectacular jewels make her look like a goddess, and she advises Sunny, “You must not be afraid of the future. Take whatever chances life might offer you.”
I could swear Adler’s Grand Hotel is actually the famous Hôtel de Paris directly across from world-renowned Le Grand Casino. The cozy, elegant bar scenes are vividly reminiscent of the Bar Americain located off the grand entrance. Sunny consoles herself with shopping and champagne, and calls her best friend, movie star Allie Ray, whom we met in ONE OF THOSE MALIBU NIGHTS, to join her in Monte Carlo. They treat Allie’s recently jilted friend Pru to the good life with a Monte Carlo makeover that is to die for. To give you a hint, it includes Chanel shoes, sexy French lingerie, a new haircut at Jacques Dessange, the official hairdresser for the Cannes Film Festival, and, of course, French rose.
A string of unsolved jewelry heists across Europe and Mac’s eternal destination, Sunny, entice him to Monte Carlo. No matter the location --- summer in St. Tropez, the Ritz Carlton in Paris, or at home in Malibu --- Mac and Sunny’s favorite destination has been in each other’s arms. Their love story captures passion, luxury and fantasy, like a diamond captures light, and deserves to be toasted with the most expensive French champagne.
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on January 22, 2011