An Improbable Pairing

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

This is a fairly good romantic historical fiction story.  It takes place in the 1960’s.   An American named Scott gets a chance to study in Switzerland and takes a ship to get there.  While on the ship he falls for an older woman and hopes to see more of her while in Switzerland.  I enjoyed some of the scenery but I wasn’t that sure I really cared too much for Scott or Countess de Rovere.  Both of the characters needed to grow up.  I received a copy of this book from Smith Publicity for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
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I love historical fiction and was drawn to the synopsis. However the book was lukewarm. While I loved the general theme somewhere between the pages I lost interest due to maybe the writing style.
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While I enjoyed the storyline, it was very predictable.   As soon as the American student set eyes on the lovely Countess on the ship, it was destined that they would become lovers.   Well written and enjoyable novel.
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I was immediately drawn to this book because of the mysterious woman on the cover. I want to know her and know her secret. I was not disappointed by her or her story. Gary Dickson gives the reader a love story set in a romantic world only Paris can provide.

In the beginning I felt a Titanic, Jack and Rose. The longing of a second class young man for the first class lady out of his league. As the book progressed I felt more Gatsby, but in the 60’s, the golden age of Paris.

Scott is a graduate student on his way to a prestigious international program in Geneva when he lays eyes on Countess de Rovere, a french divorcee in a social standing high above his own. Fate put them on that boat headed East and fate placed them in the same places several times after. Scott and the Countess come from very different worlds, will those worlds keep them apart or will they navigate the ever present boundaries to be together?

I loved the setting and the extravagance. After reading An Improbable Pairing, I really want to visit Geneva and Gstaad, but I’ll need a new wardrobe and wealthier friends.

I received an advanced reader copy from NetGalley and Green Leaf Book Press in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to leave a positive review.
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I usually love historical fiction, and I like a good romance novel every now and then too but this was a historical romance novel that didn't feel very romantic at all.  The love story felt formulaic to me, and it was a foregone conclusion from the beginning of the book.

The setting was lovely but I just couldn't get invested in the characters as hard as I tried.

Thanks to Greenleaf Book Group Press and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I love historical fiction/romance, but this was a miss for me. I think others may like this more, but the writing was not a style I normally like, I struggled to stay engaged.  I also kept forgetting the book was supposed to be set in the 1960’s, I may have liked it more if it was actually set in an older era. The romance felt a tad predictable, I had a hard time feeling attached to any of the characters.
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Librarian: Historical romances (especially those with luxurious settings) can always find a readership. I have no doubt that this one will manage it as well. The fact that it is a common man with an aristocratic woman, rather than the other way around (as is typically the case with these kind of books), may appeal to some readers, though it may turn others off. Honestly this seems to be a fairly typical example of a historical romance, and readers who are fond of the genre should enjoy this one as well.
Reader: Historical Fiction and I have an odd relationship. It's a genre that I always feel like I should read more often, but I still generally end up reading other genres instead. Sometimes, though I do read something in the genre, love it, and immediately decide to read more. That's where the disappointment tends to come in. Because I almost always end up choosing a book that I don't enjoy nearly as well.
That's what happened here. After I finished reading the thoroughly enjoyable, "The Red Address Book", I wanted to read more historical fiction. I remembered hearing about this one, so I picked it up. I found it... fine. Not bad, but not particularly good either. Now I'll admit that that might just be because of when I read it. With the Red Address book so fresh in my mind, anything that wasn't quite up to that level of excellence might pale in comparison. I may one day reread this, and enjoy it more. But right now? It's just not my cup of tea.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Greenleaf Book Press for the Advance E-Reader Copy. 

An Improbable Pairing is a Historical Romance based in the 1960's Europe. The writing is beautiful, as the author takes plenty of time to write descriptive scenes that really showcase the fashions and decors of the times. It really allows the reader to put themselves into the settings of the story as it unfolds. 

The main characters, Scott and Desiree however lacked the same depth. While their romance was interesting to witness unfold, for being a Romance book, it just rang inauthentic. Both seemed to just be in love for shallow reasons. Scott for the physical reasons that made Desiree so appealing to him, and Desiree seems quite enamored with how being with the much younger Scott helped her stay in the gossip and columns of the time. 

This story does circulate around the the budding romance of these two characters, and while it does progress and therefore give the story some shape, there also was very little to offer the reader beyond the relationship.
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I've been on a bit of a historical fiction kick lately, so I was looking forward to reading something set a little closer to today than what I had been reading. Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me. Overall, it's ploddingly slow. I've been known to watch golf on TV and I still found this akin to watching grass grow.

While I don't have to like/love the characters of the books I read, I do have to be able to connect with them on some level. However, I was never able to get that with either Scott or Desirée. Scott is a bit of a tool and Desirée just comes across as vapid and somewhat manipulative. Frankly, neither really had any redeeming characteristics that made me want to get to know them, or their story.

The writing itself is not horrible, but it's all "tell" and almost no "show". Some of the dialogue is a bit too "back and forth" without any additional descriptive text that would help color the scene. On the other hand, I felt the author spent way too much time focusing on irrelevant details, such as what was ordered for dinner (is the fact that the brook trout was steamed with lemon butter sauce and served with steamed potatoes - excuse me “pommes vapeur” - really necessary?). Every time the characters got ready to sit down to a meal (which they did A LOT), I steeled myself for another veritable menu reading in my future. Unless the book is specifically about or centered around food/dining, there is no need for that much detail. Finally, there was no discernible character growth or development for either of the main characters. At the end of the book, I was frankly left wondering why we were told their story at all.

*copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.*
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An Improbable Pairing by Gary Dickinson

January 2019
Historical Fiction

I received a digital copy of this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review from NetGalley and Greenleaf Book.

“An Improbable Pairing is a historical romance that chronicles the enduring themes of a young man’s coming of age and the rebellious love of the mismatched.”

In Sept 1963, Scott Stoddard, an American graduate student, travels abroad to study in Geneva, Switzerland. En route via cruise ship, he meets many interesting people. He becomes fascinated with a glamorous older French divorcee who happens to be Countess de Robeve. When he arrives in Geneva, Scott finds himself mingling amongst socialites. It isn’t long before he is more engaged socially than academically much to the disappointment of his parents. 

The story was initially entertaining but soon felt to drag with all the detailed descriptions of the elite lifestyle. The relationship that develops between Scott and Désirée, the Countess, never completely felt “real” to me. Of course, they are “an improbable pair” who encounter scrutiny and judgement when their affair becomes public. 

Ultimately, I felt unsatisfied as I finished the book. It seemed to have me questioning the authenticity of the characters. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.
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Beautifully written and authentic sounding, the author seemed very familiar with the geography and culture of fabulously wealthly Europeans in the 1960's - this was the most interesting part of the book to me.
Desiree was beautiful and glamorous countess, Scott was tall, handsome and witty graduate student.  
Aside from being among the rich and famous in Cannes and various parties in Switzerland and Paris, nothing really happened to this couple.  I guess their affair may have been very scandalous to their parents at the time, but everyone seemed to get rather quickly on board with them as a couple.
The setting was great, but Scott and Desiree were just not that interesting - I never really warmed up to either character or felt I knew them personally.
For a love story, it was remarkably passionless - the love scenes actually seemed a little clinical to me. 
Scott seemed enamored with Desiree primarily because she was so, so beautiful at all times.
I'm not sure what attracted Desiree to Scott besides him being handsome and witty - she did get a lot of attention from her society friends and the paparazzi kept the relationship in the spotlight for an extended amount of time, which I guess was a plus to her.

I felt neither character had a chance to grow from their experience and the story ended too abruptly.
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An Improbable Pairing Reveiw:

I think this book will always hold a place in my heart as it was the first book I was given as an ARC.

The story follows a young man as he travels to study and inevitably falls in love.

It was very clear that the author is well versed in his knowledge of French lifestyle and culture and it seemed at times that this was what the book was delivering rather than a gripping storyline. I struggled at first to get into the novel and find the depth to it, but overall it was a nice casual read. I enjoyed it and was happy with the ending.

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I was drawn to the books cover from the first sight and I am very glad I have requested this book for a review.

Surprisingly this was a love affair I loved reading about and whoever knows me also knows that this subject is my off list and usually I do not reach for books with this content.  I had few pumps on the way as sometimes descriptions were too long making me feel bored at the times but  I am happy to say that I have survived and at the end really like the story.

It was very well written, bravo to the writer, and full of moments that put me on my toes. Perspective was original and history facts well researched. 

Altogether nice read but maybe author should have put a little bit more action. 

ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Fluff. It's a lovely love story. No real strife, the characters are a bit flat, there's none of the real passion or drama that makes a good love story dramatic and a page turner. The story line and back drop, clothing and food are all well written and described, it was all just a bit drab. Not a bad story for a few days read, it just lacks any real purpose. Meh.
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Gary Dickerson writes an brilliant and intriguing story about a young American student who falls in love with a beautiful countess in 1963. 

Handsome and intelligent, Scott has always been deemed lucky by others, but the truth was that he just knew when to speak, and when not to speak, and how to adapt quickly to a situation. 

As he and Countess de Rovere’s romance became a public affair among the high society circles, the Countesses friends, and her mother began to question their intentions. Scott struggles to find the motivation to complete his studies, and instead finds himself spending more and more time with the Countess, as their relationship becomes more serious. As for how serious, it could get, Scott was not certain. In fact the future for him seemed very uncertain. After meeting the Count, the Countesses jealous ex-husband, he begins receiving threats, and fears his very life may be in danger if he continues to see the Countess. 

“He was in love; she was in love. What future could they possibly have? And how much of that future was his decision? He didn’t sense any leverage where Desirée was concerned.”
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It took me a while to decide to read this one. I love historical fiction, but the 60’s Is not my usual timeframe. 
I read the first half of the book in one sitting and then the second half took a while longer. It was hard to feel I was in a prior era. Nothing stuck out to me or distinguished the time frame. This could have been a love story in today’s time. 
Scott and Desiree’s relationship was the main focus and there’s a few hiccups, but not a lot of story. 
Great writing style and appreciated the added addition of the Countesses Mother and Scott’s parents.
Thank you NetGalley for the chance to review for an honest opinion.
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I really wanted to love this book, but I just did not. Others may, but for me, I didn't love the main characters, and I needed more than just a story about their affair so to speak.

I read this as an arc, and while it wasn't my thing, I do think others may love it. I'm used to more action and more drama in what I read. I do like the flip in gender roles though. That was an interesting take on things.

The writer is good and me not loving this book will not stop me from reading the work Gary Dickson puts out in the future.
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I liked this book. It was an ok read, but I kept expecting more. I kept thinking, "Here we go!" the author is going to add something interesting and it never showed up. I liked that it was set in the 1960's. I envisioned an old movie and imagined Katharine Hepburn as the Countess. I liked the descriptions of the Countess' outfits and the places they visited at the beginning but half way through the book the descriptions of every little detail got old for me.

This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't a favorite for me. I finished the last page and felt very ho-hum. Unfortunately, this is not a book I will be recommending for anyone to read.
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The story behind this novel seemed like it would be a very compelling one. An American student studying in Geneva who falls in love with a Countess, but unfortunately for me, it just fell flat. I loved the idea of it, but for whatever reason it didn't feel engaging while reading it and it was very hard for me to get through. Though I did appreciate the visual descriptions of all the scenery throughout the different locations in the book, the main story itself did not keep me as hooked as I would have liked. Thank you to Netgalley and Smith Publicity for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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1960's Europe. 
Scott Stoddard, an American graduate student, studying in Switzerland, falls hard for a wealthy divorcee who is older than he is. Silly me, I was waiting for some huge event to take place in this story. But it really was just Scott and Desiree's romance that was the vehicle of the plot. A fact that failed to woo me because these two characters were as exciting as watching paint dry.

Now, I know that makes me sound terribly harsh especially since the author states that he wanted to play with gender norms of the 1960's. Southerner Scott is a student and Desiree is the one with the money. I think if you're a reader approaching it from living in that time period you'll be wowed. Unfortunately, I live in 2018 and my mindset couldn"t wrap its head around this strange agreement. Plus, the whole romance was as predictable as the tides and the moon. 

Just not my cup of tea which makes this a polite 2.0 stars!
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