Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve been a fan of Karina Halle since The Swedish Prince. I don’t recall what drew me to her originally (I believe it was the recommendation of another beloved author), but, from the start, I have been drawn to her books. She has this way of writing flawed heroes who aren’t too dark, but they carry some type of secret or worry that inherently derails their journey with the heroine. Inevitably, they work through the hero’s issue and find their happily-ever-after, but there are times when the reader is never quite sure. I’m fairly certain that The Wild Heir is still my favorite Halle book, but I’m currently intrigued by her newest series The Dumonts, starting with Discretion.
Set initially in the chic French Riviera, we meet Sadie. A student from the US who has been living and traveling through Europe in the shadow of a break-up with her boyfriend. She is low on money and coming to end of her journey. As she prepares to leave the French Riviera for Spain, the final jaunt on her journey, she is attacked. In the midst of the attack, a man stops and saves her from her attacker. He is instantly drawn to her and transports her to the hospital for treatment. From that moment, Olivier, the rescuer, and Sadie are connected. He is drawn to her inexplicably at first, and she finds protection with him.
What Sadie doesn’t realize is Olivier hails from one of the richest, most storied French fashion families akin to Chanel. Having branched into the life of a hotelier, Olivier has distanced himself from his famous family. However, this is intentional as he carries a secret, one that potentially dooms their burgeoning relationship. Will Olivier reveal his secret, and will it end his relationship with Sadie? That is the turmoil of this book.
I was reading this book shortly after spending time in Paris, one of the locations in the book, and I found myself walking along Olivier and Sadie. There is something about Paris that underscores the magic of this couple. Olivier is really a dreamy hero. He’s attentive, handsome, rich, and a magician in the bedroom. He recognizes that Sadie is different, and he is drawn to her difference. It changes him in this story, and it’s my favorite part of this book. What may frustrate some readers, me included, is his insistence on holding fast to his secret. He doesn’t tell his father, his siblings, and even Sadie for much of the book. And, of course, that’s the impetus for the drama in Discretion.
As a heroine, Sadie is every woman. I’d love to say that she’s exceptional, but, as a heroine, she really isn’t. She is exceptional in loving and challenging Olivier’s perception of himself. She doesn’t do this consciously, by the way. Olivier’s realization of her power over him comes to him gradually. But this story isn’t about powerful heroines. Instead, it’s a story of intrigue, of power, of debauchery.
The story itself is the driving force behind this book. Yes, Olivier’s journey is my favorite part of Discretion. However, the story pulls you through. It keeps you reading because Discretion is actually more romantic suspense than contemporary romance. There is no resolution to the overarching story in this book, which leads the reader into Disarm, the second book of the series: more intrigue, more struggles for power, more secrets to reveal.
In general, I liked Halle’s Discretion. Like I said at the beginning of this review, Karina Halle is a “go-to” writer for me. Whatever she writes I will read. However, there was some sparkle missing from this book. I felt like the characters weren’t as developed as previous characters in her other books. There was something a bit flat with their development. After reading her acknowledgments, however, I realized that this book was a turning point for her, and it made me love her just a bit more. Do I recommend you read Discretion? Absolutely. My quibble is nothing, really. I simply have an expectation of Halle that is probably unreasonable. You will fall in love with Olivier and Sadie’s story. You will love the intrigue of the story and its supporting characters. And you will remember that Karina Halle has a magical way of telling stories, even with a struggle.
In love and romance,