Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernst
With over twenty-five years’ experience working in hotels, Lucy Gianetti is unexpectedly jobless after her boss (and boyfriend) embezzled pension funds from the New York City hotel she managed. Her only job offer as hotel manager is in Rennes, Brittany, in northwest France. When Lucy arrives at the Hotel Paradis, there are no rooms ready for guests. Some of the partners and future staff live in the hotel’s stable block, and Lucy’s suite doesn’t have dishes, glasses, a comfy chair or even a hook for her toiletry bag. She soon discovers that there is plenty of furniture, linens, and artwork well kept in storage. At least the café across the courtyard serves delicious meals. Raoul will replaster all of the guest rooms while Lucy, with the aid of smart aleck Bing, is expected to paint them. Resident Vera sews gorgeous curtains, another gardens, the chauffeur agrees to have his car spiffed up, and the hotel gradually comes together as Lucy also learns to build a website, then finally hires more staff. As she once worked in Montreal, Lucy’s French is pretty good and improves quickly. After the hotel opens to guests, Lucy settles into life in Rennes, and enjoys a growing friendship with talented artist Bing, until some family drama threatens to derail her happiness. Northwest France is beautifully described, and I found it refreshing to have a middle-aged main character. I enjoyed this upbeat, witty and humorous novel with a bit of romance.