Sandra Byrd's third installment in her French Twist series, Piece de Resistance, recently released, and I was given the pleasure of a complimentary copy to review on my blog.
This is a series you don't want to miss. In previous times, I would call this chick lit at its finest, but since that word is so faux pas now, I'll call it women's fiction. It follows a young woman on her journey to self-discovery. Here's a blurb from the back of the book:
Having earned her chef’s hat, Lexi Stuart bids au revoir to her glamorous and deliciously satisfying pastry mentorship outside of Paris and returns to her hometown of Seattle, Washington. There, she finds life unexpectedly complicated.
She’s put in charge of a high-end catering bakery called Bijoux, which should be her dream job, but there’s a catch: She has to make this lavish bakery into a successful business in just a few, short months, which will require more than her ability to make an amazing wedding cake. Stir in a complicated relationship with her French beau Philippe and his daughter, Celine, then add a dash of romance with down-to-earth lawyer Dan, and life suddenly contains more ooh la la than Lexi can handle.
Since this is the third book, there's a lot from Book One, Let Them Eat Cake, and Book Two, Bon Appetit, about Lexi's journey that I don't want to spoil here. So, typical for my reviews, I like to focus on characterization from a therapist's point of view.
I liked the fact that Sandra doesn't have Lexi coming from some horrible past. She's basically a typical, average twenty-something who speaks French, thanks to her degree in college. She doesn't have a traumatic history. She doesn't come from a divorced family. She's got really good friends. She's got career troubles and romance woes, but nothing out of the ordinary.
That doesn't mean the book is ordinary, though. I think anybody who doesn't know exactly what they want to do with their life will be able to relate to Lexi Stuart. She's on the dawn of true adulthood and everything that means. She's trying to live up to expectations of her parents and herself with regards to her job, her faith, and romance. I find this all too common among this age group (early to mid-twenties).
Lexi suffers from a bit of a self-esteem problem. She's surrounded by those she feels are more successful than her. She's got a retired Marine for a father, a lawyer for a brother and sister-in-law, her best friend's happy as a teacher. Even once she gets her chef hat, she still is under pressure to perform a certain way, to be outwardly successful. And Sandra puts poor Lexi through the ringer as far as career mishaps and misunderstandings.
And for romance, Lexi's got a couple sexy French men and American stud lawyer Dan in her life. I just have to say the way Sandra ends Lexi's romantic story in Piece de Resistance is simply sublime. There couldn't be a more perfect ending, seriously. But before Lexi can get there, she's got to get a little more comfortable in her own skin, to know herself and what she wants/needs better.
As for her faith, I really like how Sandra seamlessly weaves Lexi's Christianity into all the books, but especially Piece de Resistance. In each book, Lexi follows through a book of the Bible. I'm a believer in how God can speak to believers through his Word. Lexi reads just what she needs to read right when she needs to read it. She figures out things about herself, future ministry opportunities, and spiritual truths to live by. There's so much to be gleaned from Scripture for our everyday activities. I think it's a fallacy to think to have a devotional you've got to read three chapters and journal about them. Lexi's devotionals are short and sweet, a verse or two that she ruminates over through the day. If only we could all do that a little more often, a little more consistently.
Great read, folks. Makes you laugh out loud at times, sigh at times, and keep flipping the pages for the next romantic encounter. Lexi is endearing, so I'd suggest you buy all three of these books at once, so that you can go right through them without stopping...took me four days, max (and that's because I've got a toddler).
You can find Sandra on the web at http://sandrabyrd.com and her facebook fan page is at http://www.facebook.com/sandrabyrdbooks.