Lessons in French is a feel-good story. It’s cute, lighthearted, and full of whimsy. It was the right novel at the right time. I needed cute, lighthearted, and whimsy. I smiled a lot when reading it and rooted for both of the main characters. They’re imperfect, but that just makes them extremely likeable.
The heroine is as Laura Kinsale describes–an anti-kickass heroine. Callie Taillefaire is pretty shy. She prefers her animals to men and ballrooms. In ballrooms she’s an absolute wallflower without even trying. She was betrothed three times and all three men left her cold. The people of Shelford love her, but even they have to wonder what’s wrong with her when eighty thousand pounds won’t get a man to the altar. What’s great about Callie is that even though she’s not one of the kickass heroines running around in other romances, she can be fierce and courageous. She’ll even save the hero.
Trevelyn d’Augustin is a very interesting character. He is the son of aristocratic but impoverished French émigrés. Nine years approximately before the story starts, he was in love (or pretty darn close to admitting it anyway) with Callie. That her father did not approve of him is an understatement. One bad episode and Trev runs away to France where he does a lot of things from organizing fights, shooting at Englishmen, becoming a war prisoner, returning to England and organizing more fights, and getting in trouble with the law. He’s avoided Shelford for ages because he’s positive Callie is married with kids, but with his mother extremely ill he can no longer stay away.
They both get a second chance at first love. Trev pulls Callie out of her shell, one hilarious incident after another. Callie gives Trev comfort and quiet strength and a sense of purpose, but she can’t imagine that he feels anything beyond friendship and gratitude for her. So when her sister, Hermione gets engaged to Sir Thomas Vickery, Callie seriously entertains the attentions of an old fiancé. She won’t burden her sister and she won’t stick around with her cousin and his wife Dolly. Trev won’t pursue her romantically because of his legal troubles and because he feels she deserves more than he can offer… and certainly more than this idiot who’s back and sniffing after her eighty thousand pounds.