Book Review: Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars by Samantha Verant

book review sophie valroux's paris stars samantha verant
Sophie Valroux's Paris Stars by Samantha Verant

Title: Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars (Sophie Valroux #2)

Author: Samantha Verant

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: October 19, 2021

Genre: Women’s Fiction

One Sentence Summary: After taking over her family’s chateau and business after her grandmother’s passing, Sophie works hard to settle in, but still dreams of receiving Michelin stars even though it starts to interfere with her quiet French countryside life.

Warning: Spoilers for the first book, The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux, lie directly ahead!

Overall

Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars picks up shortly after the events of The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux. It continues to follow Sophie as she works hard to settle into her new life in the French countryside as the new owner of her family’s chateau and the hotel and restaurants that go with it. With her confidence in her cooking skills returned, she turns her eye to attaining her dream: becoming one of the few women in the world to receive Michelin stars, even if the man she’s considering marrying thinks she needs a new dream. I love how strong and resolute Sophie is, and that this is a series about her growing and coming into her own. Just like every other woman, she faces problems and setbacks and decisions that are never easy. I find it easy to relate to her and love how it’s more focused on her development as a person and on female friendships than it is on romance. There’s also a ton of food, which always makes me hungry when I read these books, and some really fun kitchen drama. Overall, a fun and delicious read about a woman’s journey.

Extended Thoughts

Just weeks after Sophie’s grandmother’s death, it’s time for her to open the chateau for the season. With her colleagues and friends surrounding and supporting her, she’s sure to make a splash, especially after being titled a Grand Chef and becoming a darling in the media. But trouble finds itself at the chateau’s doors in the form of a too handsome heir who rubs her the wrong way despite his dazzle, influence, and money, Nicolas de ls Barguelonne, and no one says no to a Barguelonne. Nicolas comes to issue an invitation to Sophie: cook at an exclusive event in Paris and have a chance at catching the attention she needs to held her acquire her desired Michelin stars where his stepmother, a starred chef Sophie esteems will also be cooking.

Even though her fiance, Remi, opposes the idea, Sophie can’t say no. Even when a devastating accident robs her of her abilities to taste and smell. With Seb, a member of her brigade, along with her, she arrives in Paris, to a scorching hot kitchen full of rival chefs, and a few friends. With her own and the chateau’s reputations on the line, Sophie will need to flawlessly dance her way through the kitchen, without the most important senses a chef needs.

Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars was one of my (few) anticipated reads this year, and it did not disappoint! I believe this is the first time I’ve encountered a women’s fiction series that follows the same main character, which I think is amazing because finding oneself and one’s dreams is a never-ending journey. Just like the first book, The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux, this one is gorgeous and delicious, packed full of food, great friends, strong female relationships, a dash of romance, and a lot of discovering oneself and what one wants out of life.

I don’t really know where to start; I loved this book so much. Even though my love of Sophie got off to a shaky start in the first book, she really grew on me and spoke to me. I love everything about her story, about having her hopes and dreams dashed and challenged and changed. This is what women’s fiction is supposed to be to me. It’s all about celebrating women and their journeys. It should be full of friendship and focused on women coming in to themselves independently of what others think and want for her. Sophie’s story is all about her, her growth as a person, and the changing nature of dreams. It’s also full of food since Sophie is a Grand Chef working in the restaurant her grandmother built and grew at their family’s chateau, hoping to earn her first Michelin star.

There’s something about Sophie that really speaks to me. While she sometimes comes off as a bit self-centered and too focused on her own dreams to take her friend’s thoughts and feelings into consideration, her history and her life goals soften her character quite a bit. As a woman in a competitive, male-dominated domain, she’s had to fight tooth and nail and couldn’t show the slightest bit of weakness. Champvert has changed her, softening her edges, but she’s determined to hold on to her dreams, the one thing that hasn’t experienced change. I really enjoyed her struggles with what her life used to be and what it is now.

Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars is an easy read, perfectly flowing from one thing to the next, taking her through her first year as the owner of the chateau and everything it carries. But it’s also stuffed full of everything from relationships both romantic and platonic, dealing with grief, stepmotherhood, and, of course, culinary backstabbing and warfare. And, at some point in the story, Sophie has an accident that robs her of her abilities to taste and smell, a travesty for any chef, especially one who dreams of gaining Michelin stars. I really enjoyed the tension and all the secrets and, somehow, I really understood her desperate need to keep it to herself.

Most of all, I loved Sophie and the people around her. It’s her colleagues and friends who really make this into the kind of book I really love. They all had their own lives, their own things to deal with, just like Sophie, but their dedication to the chateau and her were beautiful, especially when she really needed it. Reading about her growth, about her coming out of her own head and heart to really notice these people was lovely. They’re all incredible. Jane is so meticulous and organized (and I seriously need one of her in my life) and Phillipa is so sweet and energetic and skilled. Remi is gorgeously handsome in every way, but perhaps a mite too overprotective, and sometimes I worried he was pulling Sophie back from her dreams and distrusting her instead of supporting her. And Lola, Remi’s little girl, is, as always, adorable. Without all these people around her, Sophie wouldn’t be who she is, wouldn’t be able to accomplish her dreams and come out with friends on the other side. I think I really enjoyed Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars because of them.

This book squeezes a lot into it, but it all flowed well together. It’s really the story of a chef whose reputation was ruined in the kitchen coming back into her own and determining her own path and new dreams. Sophie fights hard for everything she wants, and I really liked how she shifted in this book so she really could have everything.

Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars is a delightfully delicious novel full of food, friendship, and love. There’s a lot of heart in it and so many characters to fall in love with. And, of course, the chateau sounds even more gorgeous and homey.

How many cups of tea will you need?

5 cups

Get your copy (The Lily Cafe is NOT an Amazon affiliate)

Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Head over to the Bookshelf to check out my reviews of books from the Big 5 and self-published, indie, and small press books.

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