Fia Jennings believes that, after the loss of her job, she will begin to find more bonding time with her teenaged twins. So when her Uncle Martin calls from Provence, asking her to take over his and Aunt Lucie’s Bed & Breakfast while they take a vacation, she sees it as a perfect opportunity. Serendipity, even.

But her husband Grayson is adamant about not taking the trip. He is, in fact, stubbornly resistant. In the end, he does accompany Fia and the kids, but from the moment they set foot in the B & B, he is unavailable. Physically and emotionally. Soon he is traipsing off with a woman named Jeanne-Marie, and flaunting it in Fia’s face.

Meanwhile, Uncle Martin and Aunt Lucie have departed so quickly that Fia is left wondering what is going on? Why has her uncle taken off without leaving instructions, almost as if he is trying to escape something?

In the weeks ahead, Fia becomes exhausted from overwork and the complete disappearance of her husband and children. She feels like a drudge. So when she goes to the beach one day, accompanied by a handsome Frenchman Christophe, whom she met in the early weeks, she feels relaxed for the first time. But they return to find the B & B has been broken into and tossed. What were the intruders looking for? And why, when her husband returns, does he seem to be searching for something, too?

Discovering the answers will keep Fia focused until she finally stumbles upon Uncle Martin’s secret. But then she has to make a plan, take some risks, and decide who, if anyone, she can trust to help her.

The characters were vivid and real: so much so that I had strong feelings of disgust for Grayson, suspicion of many of the other characters, and annoyance with the teens. A strong reminder of real life and people we encounter along the way.

THE SUMMER OF FRANCE was like a mystery novel, a suspense tale, and a romantic departure to lovely settings. The journey takes the reader through France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Poland. My heart was pounding as I followed Fia’s adventurous voyage toward righting the wrongs of a time long ago. Narrated alternately from Uncle Martin’s and Fia’s perspectives, the story carried us from WWII, and a mistake a young man made, to a woman in the present who is trying to figure out a way to save her family. Captivating and wonderfully engaging, I could not put this book down. Five stars.