Seven Letters From Paris
by Samantha Vérant
Release date: October 7, 2014 at Sourcebooks
Twenty years, seven letters, and one long-lost love of a lifetime
At age 40, Samantha Vérant’s life is falling apart-she’s jobless, in debt, and feeling stuck… until she stumbles upon seven old love letters from Jean-Luc, the sexy Frenchman she’d met in Paris when she was 19. With a quick Google search, she finds him, and both are quick to realize that the passion they felt 20 years prior hasn’t faded with time and distance.
Samantha knows that jetting off to France to reconnect with a man that she only knew for one sun-drenched, passion-filled day is crazy-but it’s the kind of crazy she’s been waiting for her whole life.
Tonight I’m cooking from the heart, choosing self-belief over fear.
Although I’ve always been a culinary adventuress, experimenting
with recipes ripped from the pages of Bon Appétit and Gourmet since
the age of twelve, Jean-Luc and I usually prepare this particular
meal together—him manning the stove, me the eager sous-chef,
slicing and dicing the parsley, shallots, and garlic. Now, thanks to
his gentle coaching, I’m a little more confident when it comes to
the art of preparing flammable French cuisine. And I can’t let a little
heat scare me out of my own kitchen.
The time has finally come to conquer my anxiety of flambéing—on
On the first strike, the match hisses to life, trailing a wisp of
smoke. I take a step back, reach out my arm, and touch the lit tip
into the pastis with a steady hand. Flames flare up and the aroma of
the anise-flavored liqueur permeates the kitchen. The blaze settles
into a simmer, and I let out the breath I’ve been holding in. My
technique is still not flawless though; to the cat’s delight, one plump
shrimp tumbles onto the floor. Bella lifts her haunches and pounces
on her prey. I may not have the pan flip down, but I have one very
happy, pint-sized panther.
After setting the timer, I twist the knob on the burner to low,
which will allow the flavors of the pastis to infuse the shrimp just a
bit more. Jean-Luc has already set the table outside, and I step out
into the garden to join him. “Wine?” he asks.
I nod and take my seat within earshot of the kitchen, noting
my husband’s handsome profile, his manicured sideburns, and his
chiseled jaw with the five o’clock shadow as he uncorks the bottle of
I am just as attracted to him as I’d been when we first met over
twenty years ago.
Right as we’re about to clink glasses, the timer in the kitchen
buzzes. Before I can move a muscle, Jean-Luc says, “Stay. Stay.” He
flies out of his chair and into the house. A few seconds later, he
rushes back to the deck and places a glossy black paper bag on my
dinner plate. I can make out the name of a jeweler: 18k, Montres
I point, my mouth dropping open. “But you weren’t supposed to
get me anything—”
“I wanted to.” He shrugs and blows air between his lips like only
a Frenchman can do without looking silly.
“But the shrimp—”
“Can wait a minute. I turned the burner off.” He motions to the
He doesn’t need to translate his words into English. With a shake
of my head, I reach through layers of hot pink tissue paper to discover
a bracelet resting in a satin-lined box. The clasp is delicate, but
Jean-Luc manages to hitch it in seconds. The strand twists on my
wrist and a small amethyst heart rests on my pulse, its facets glittering
in the candlelight. Something about the way the light flickers on
the jewel, almost beating, brings on a moment of complete clarity. I
look to the starlit sky before meeting Jean-Luc’s gaze, trying to find
my breath. I can only whisper, “Thank you.”
Jean-Luc’s hands clasp onto mine. “Sam, you never, ever have to
Oh, but I do.
Three years ago, when I left a loveless marriage, filed for bankruptcy,
became a dog walker, and moved back in with my parents
in Southern California, I thought things couldn’t get any worse.
But then, in a moment of longing and memory, I used the Internet
to track down Jean-Luc and rekindle an unfinished romance from
decades before. Tonight is our second wedding anniversary.
This is the story of how I rebooted my life and restarted my heart