My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Heroine: Danielle Bretancourt
Hero: Jonathan Newell-Grey
Special areas of research: Perfume creation, Orphan charities, fashion, Hollywood of 1940’s
Scent of Triumph opens with fear and longing.
Traveling home via ocean liner to Europe after a business trip to the United States, Danielle and her husband Max are shocked by the news of the Nazi grab for power. Danielle worries desperately for their son Nick, who had been left behind in the care of his grandmother, and with good cause. Moran is very careful to make sure the memory of her son is never far from Danielle’s mind, pricking her and the readers with a poignancy that keeps this novel to sinking into overwrought melodrama.
For there is a lot of drama. They were dramatic times, yes, but Danielle is forced to experience most of the tragedies of the era, all heaped upon her strong, determined, auburn head.
Coming from a long line of respected perfumers, Danielle has a solid background that I enjoyed as I grew acquainted with her. A talented artist in this field, she also comes to design clothing and becomes quite a trendsetter, rising from the poverty into which the war dropped her to shine at the top of society before the novel’s end.
There are villains – horrible villains. There are good men and women. And there is The Hero, Jon Newell-Grey, who carries a torch for Danielle during the duration of the story. He comes from a wealthy family of shipping magnates and is truly a good man.
It’s a good story, too. But it is overwrought.
Are there spies? Of course. Are there bombs? Yes. Naval attacks? Yes. Secrets? Littering the ground at times. And the author keeps the resolution as to what did indeed happen to Nicky, the son that was left behind with his grandmother while his parents traveled overseas, until almost the very last page.
If you read this book, be prepared to be manipulated. Despite my aversion to melodrama in general, I still had my eyes burning with tears while seated in an airplane, reading this. Twice. There are some lovely emotions, tender notes, and the beauty and art of the perfumer that captivated me. Living in Danielle’s mind as she creates truly is a work of art.
But the rest of it felt like one of those Beautiful People stories that flooded the market in the 1980’s and I have perhaps read more of them than I should have. Still, I came for the perfume and the history, and those aspects did not disappoint.
If you like World War II drama, if you are interested in learning about a rare art form, I recommend this romance.