It began as a simple flirtation . . .
In September of 1963, Scott Stoddard, an American graduate student, is traveling to Switzerland, when he meets the Countess de Rovere, a French divorcee; he is smitten, and she is intrigued. What begins as a little coquetry soon becomes a serious love affair, much to the consternation of the Countess's ex-husband and mother, not to mention the Countess's friends of European high society. A meeting of equals poses problems enough, but what about one between two people who seem to have so many differences? And when a man of traditional attitudes couples with an independent and self-confident woman, something's got to give. It won't be the countess. As their liaison transcends an affair that cannot be dismissed, they all agree that something must be done.
An Improbable Pairing is a historical romance that chronicles the enduring themes of a young man's coming of age and the rebellious love of the mismatched. This pas de deux, set in the golden years of 1960s Paris, Geneva, Gstaad, and Cannes, provides an insider's peek into the worlds of haute couture, three-star gourmet restaurants, and lavish hotel suites—the domains of rank and privilege. But society's privileged resist when an interloper threatens to upset their cozy structure.
Scott Stoddard is an American graduate student who has been accepted into a prestigious program in Switzerland. On his way overseas, Scott is introduced to the enigmatic Countess de Rovere and becomes infatuated. With a promise to his parents to focus on his studies, Scott puts off calling on the Countess and attempts to concentrate on school and girls his own age. However, the pull of the Countess' presence is hard to resist and Scott finds himself under Desiree's spell. Scott and Desiree find that their attraction is mutual, even though there is a long list of reasons that they should not be together. Being introduced into Desiree's social circle takes a toll on Scott's academics, but their attraction grows. As news of their relationship spreads, pressure mounts on the couple.
An Improbable Pairing takes the reader through the whirlwind romance of a very lucky American student and a privileged Countess in 1960's Europe. The beginning of the book grabbed my attention with the voyage, the mystery surrounding The Countess and the suspense of how Scott and Desiree would come together. After Scott arrived, the pace slowed a bit as he went about being a student and attempting to date the girls he believed he should. Things began to pick up again when Scott and Desiree begin dating. At this point, it also seemed like Scott was just the luckiest man alive as everything fell perfectly into place for him. Desiree's world is shiny and exciting as her status invites her into world's that I would never be able to see. The descriptions of luxurious homes, clothing, jewelry, restaurants, food and events were very encompassing and detailed allowing me to richly imagine places in Switzerland and France that I will never see. The romance plays out as I would expect, the addition of Desiree's ex-husband adds a slight tension, but could have been used to ramp up the excitement even more. Overalll, a classic historical romance that add the glamour of 1960's Europe.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Gary Dickson is an inveterate traveler and a Francophile, sans merci. Educated in the United States and Switzerland in history, literature, and the classics, Gary lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Susie.
An Improbable Pairing is available January 8, 2019 on Amazon and other retailers.
Q&A with World Traveler and Novelist Gary Dickson
AUTHOR OF AN IMPROBABLE PAIRING
Question: What do you want readers to take away from Scott and Desirée’s connection and relationship in the story?
Gary Dickson: I want readers to understand and remember the architecture of the relationship between Scott and the Countess, Desirée. While built on the chemistry of attraction and love, it is buttressed by affection, intelligence and humor. To be in love is often chemistry, but to stay in love the relationship must be of such importance that the couple is willing to make the necessary modifications to their pre-conceived desires and attitudes in order for their love to survive and blossom.
Q: What makes An Improbable Pairing so different from other historical romance novels?
Dickson: Most historical fiction is heavy with obvious research piling on specifics sometimes not pertinent to the story. In the case of An Improbably Pairing, no research was necessary since the scenes and the culture of this period are so very familiar to me. As a result, the descriptions have the authenticity of first-hand experience rather than a ponderous factual approach. This story is light-hearted, fast-paced yet packed with accurate detail, as one reviewer remarked, “an almost cinematic description.”
Q: Do you have additional stories or books you are working on?
Dickson: Yes, many in the works! I have already written a sequel but with an espionage and thriller flavor called A Spy with Scruples, a continuation of the Scott and Desirée story. I also have an idea for a sequel to this novel, which is a continuation of the spy motif that takes place in Switzerland, New York, and Palm Beach, FL. I have also completed another novel, a melange of a fantasy, a mystery, and a romance within the speculative fiction genre. Additionally, I have written and will shortly publish a book of poetry, La Poesie De Bonne Bouffe/The Poetry of Good Eats. A series of 25 poems in French with English translations, celebrating French food specialties, a French and English recipe for each, and an acknowledgement page which details the places I’ve frequented and learned about these delicacies.