Pip Simmonds is usually lively and full of energy, but he has been laid low by a combination of scarlet fever and pneumonia. Even after much time off, Pip is still not fully recovered and between his wracking cough and his exhaustion, the idea of work seems impossible. Pip’s boss, Jonas, takes one look at him and offers Pip the use of his house in the south of France for six weeks. The hope is that the warm air and the relaxation will help Pip finally recover from his long illness.
Jonas’ family home is glorious and practically a dream come true for Pip. The weather is gorgeous, the house is beautiful, and Pip is having the vacation he could never have imagined. It gets even better when Jonas’ brother, Olivier, returns home earlier than planned. Olivier is not only sexy as hell, but he has a joy for life that matches Pip’s own. Olivier delights in showing Pip all his favorite places in the area and Pip loves the adventure and excitement. It gets even better when the men finally give in to the intense attraction between them.
Both men know getting involved is not a good idea. Pip is the personal assistant to Olivier’s brother and they know Jonas wouldn’t be thrilled about the two of them sleeping together. Not to mention that the men are from totally different worlds. Pip grew up in a modest home, raised by his grandmother, while Olivier is the wealthy owner of a huge business. Yet the two men have such a shared spirit that leads to an intense bond. Now, as Pip’s time away draws to a close, the men have to decide if there is a chance for a real future between them, or if all it will be is a summer of fun.
French Fancy is the second book in Lily Morton’s The Model Agency series. While plot-wise this could stand alone, the story serves as a lovely companion to the first book, The Sunny Side, which features Olivier’s brother, Jonas, finding love with Dean. It also takes place in the shared world of many of Morton’s stories, so we also get guest appearances by some other familiar characters, such as Mal from Spring Strings and Laurie and Magnus from Beautifully Unexpected.
I absolutely adored Pip and Olivier and they are just so charming and full of life. Both men are flirtatious and bold, enjoying life to the fullest. They have a shared sense of adventure and delight in exploring and experiencing the world. Pip is just getting to travel for the first time and he is so thrilled by every opportunity to try something new and soak up the beauty and wonder of the south of France and Olivier just loves getting to show it all to him. These guys are so interesting in that on paper they are so different. Olivier is older, wealthy, and established. He runs a huge corporation and has had vast worldly experience. And Pip is a younger London PA, with a mom who died of an overdose and a father in jail. But they are such kindred spirits and Morton does a wonderful job really highlighting how these men just fit together so perfectly. Not to mention they have insane chemistry together and even before they give in to their attraction, there is just this great buzz between them, combined with a lovely playfulness. Here they are when Olivier wakes up Pip to come visit a nearby village with him (from Pip’s POV):
I scrub my hands through my hair to distract from my bright red cheeks. His eyes dip, and he takes a very slow and thorough inspection of my torso. I raise my eyebrow when he works his way back up to my face. “Should I charge for that eye fuck?”
Completely unembarrassed, he laughs lustily and then winks at me. “I would pay every bit of what you asked. Just so you know.”
“Oh my god, you’re lethal,” I breathe.
“It has been said.[…]”
I think what really gives this story some weight is that these men don’t just connect from their joy in life and love of adventure, but also a shared understanding of the harder times. Both Pip and Olivier have lost and know what it is like to feel left behind and it gives them a bond that really solidifies their connection.
As I said, this story also is a really nice companion to The Sunny Side as Olivier is Jonas’ brother and this book more fully fleshes out the backstory for both men. We know from Jonas’ book how much he loves and cares about Olivier, but they don’t see much of each other, and here we learn more about why. We also see their horrible mother and get a better sense of that dynamic and how it affected both men. Jonas and Olivier care about each other so much, and they each think they are helping one another by staying apart. So I loved that this story helps the brothers really find their way back to each other and rounds out their journey.
Morton has such a wonderful way with setting and one of the best parts of this story for me is how she incorporates the south of France into the book. When I finished reading The Cuckoo’s Call, all I wanted to do was go to Majorca, and after reading this book, I’m ready to pack my bags for southern France. The way Morton describes the beautiful scenery, the lush atmosphere, and the sense of tranquility really brings it all to life. I could just picture it so clearly in my mind and the setting works perfectly with the tone of the story.
I really loved this one and am finding this series to be so much fun already. It was great to get Olivier’s story here on the heels of Jonas’ book, and Pip is such a fan favorite character, I was thrilled to see him get his happy ending. We meet a host of side characters here and I am finding everyone so intriguing, I can’t wait to see what is next for this series.