Cover Image: The Black Swan of Paris

The Black Swan of Paris

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Member Reviews

Wow! What a read! Set in WWII Paris, a story about how far we will go to save the people we love most. Loved this one. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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It is a story about world  war 2 and a family  involved in the French Resistance. It pulls at your heart strings the things two daughters do to help their mother escape from prison.. it is well written by an author I enjoy very much
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This book was received as an ARC from HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing - MIRA in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I was waiting for a book this informative, historical, and intense to be released and with two WOMEN protagonists, I could not be happier. The strength Genevieve showed when it came to rescuing her mother from the Nazis and the brutality she took through it all was such a wonderful demonstration of strength not only physically but emotionally since the Nazis are willing to do whatever it took to silence her of the information including killing her.  Genevieve must use her power of invisibility to save her mother and her life or all will come to an end. My mouth dropped open so many times that I lost count through it all. I know our community will be dying to read this book and a lot will be taken from the story.

We will consider adding this title to our Historical Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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Against the backdrop of one of the most horrifying times in our history, Genevieve Dumont is part of the Resistance in Paris during the Nazi occupation.  As a talented singer, she is given access that is limited to most non-Germans, which her manager and fellow resistance fighter, Max, takes full advantage of while executing their plans.  The action is fast paced, and the reality of the tortures and horrors of the Nazi era are not skimmed over lightly.  I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, with string stomachs.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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I’m thrilled to be part of the Harlequin Summer Reads blog tour for The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards. This was a riveting read of WWII Resistance, centering on two main characters, mother and daughter Lillian and Genevieve. Living in France, both of them were pulled into anti-Nazi activities, risking and often losing much of what they held dear. I couldn’t put it down! Ms. Robards is a new author to me, but I loved her writing and will look for her other novels.
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Rife with tension, heartache, and hope

I would like to thank Karen Robards, Harlequin MIRA, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. Also thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to participate in the blog tour.

Don’t take my 4-star rating to heart; I wasn’t the ideal audience for this type of book. I wanted to read this because it was written by Karen Robards, a romance author I’ve often enjoyed, not because it’s WWII historical fiction. I usually don’t read much pertaining to WWII, or wars in general, really. Not my thing. So it’s not surprising that I skimmed if not completely skipped pages containing exposition describing the war and Occupied Paris; I cared about the characters—always my favorite story element—and needed action to hold my mite-sized attention, so I swiped and swiped until I found dialogue, then tuned back in. Robards’s research was largely wasted on me, unfortunately.

That’s not to say the narrative was boring or held too much exposition; it struck me as well-paced and having a good balance of “show” vs. “tell.” I simply wasn’t interested in what I was being “told” about the war. Nope, as usual, my ears didn’t prick up until the romance came more into focus and got more screen time, around 50-60%.

I wasn’t sure if I liked Max or not until it became clear that he wasn’t as emotionally removed or indifferent as he put on, and that the discord between him and Genevieve was perpetuated for their own protection more than an honest dislike of each other. Once I figured him out, I loved him. I liked Genevieve; she was compassionate and more or less relatable, though I’m not sure there was anything particularly charismatic about her. Lillian and Emmy were meh, okay; I sympathized with their grief and regrets, but I’m not sure I cared about them much. I think I mostly cared about them because Genevieve did. Strangely, I think I cared about Berthe and Otto a little more than Lillian and Emmy.

So yeah. It was fine. *shrugs* I liked it well enough, and it was well written as far as I could tell, but I don’t plan to revisit it. I do recommend it to those who love WWII historical fiction, but I caution Robards fans looking for romance—you may be disappointed, unless you’re also a fan of historical fiction with little to no romance. Maybe get it from the library first, see if you can get into it.
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Paris 1944 - war, espionage, family, personal and community losses, danger, and a love story. The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards. has so many elements of a great read. I could do without the graphic descriptions of torture, but overall, the book does a wonderful job of finding a balance between the different elements of the book. That, for me, has to do with creating a strong, believable main character in Genevieve. 

Read my complete review at 

Reviewed for NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing Summer 2020 Historical Fiction Blog Tours.
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This is my tenth read by this author and it's my favorite BY FAR. It's been a long time since I read a Karen Robards book, but if this is an example of what I've been missing out on, my hiatus is over for the foreseeable future. Ever since reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, I haven't been able to find a good spy book that even comes close to competing to that masterpiece. The Black Swan of Paris has finally been the one to give it a run for its money. I know it's not fair to compare books, but it's a little bit hard not to put an all-time favorite up on a pedestal in all of its shining glory. I'm so glad I decided to go with my instinct because it exceeded all of my expectations.

One of the central characters is Genevieve Dumont, otherwise known as The Black Swan, a widely adored singer from Paris. She's been estranged from her family for many years, and her past is not something she likes to contemplate very often. There's a lot of resentment and bitterness built up over events that led up to a tragedy in her life. This tragedy cut her life, and her entire persona in two. The before and after held two versions of the same woman.

Before was an idyllic, affluent life full of glittering days that were brighter than the sun. She was the youngest, and loved dearly despite being the rebel of the family.

After, she traveled to foreign places, just a shell of her former self as she struggled to put food on the table and live another day alone.

She meets Max seemingly by chance while roaming and becomes ensnared in a trap that turns her life in a direction she never could have predicted. Max had grand plans to make her a star, with himself as her esteemed manager. With the level of stardom she eventually achieves, she earns a level of trust and admiration from the Nazis in occupied Paris. Keeping her enemies close becomes more than a motto, it becomes a way of life in the ultimate game of cat and mouse.

Max and Genevieve have a very volatile and complex relationship. She feels deceived and manipulated by him (rightly so) which causes constant friction between the two. Max did seem to care about her from the beginning, but many times he put her life at risk without batting an eye and I debated on how I should feel about him. Add in the fact that he dragged her unwillingly into the spy network with him, I wondered how admirable he really was. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was judging by my entitled standards. When you're living in such desperate times you can't afford to put anything at a higher priority than ending the war.

Max may have had to make difficult decisions every single day, but he was genuinely a good man. It's understandable that he never considered mixing personal feelings with the arrangement he had with Genevieve as it would have made an already impossible situation harder. Their main issue in growing closer was the need for secrecy, even among those in the network. It's drilled in their heads so many times that the less you know the better for the safety of all. If anyone were ever captured and interrogated by the Nazis, eventually they will give up all the information they have. So when Genevieve starts sneaking off on her own personal agenda to discover the whereabouts of her mother, she feels safer hiding her actions. Towards the end however, after some much needed communication between the two of them when secrets are laid bare, their hearts are as well.

For a historical fiction book to wow me the number one most important thing it needs to have is DETAIL. I want to feel like I just traveled to another time and place and walked in the characters' shoes through unfamiliar surroundings. Not only did the author do a monumental amount of research on the facts of WW2 events itself, but more importantly, she depicted what the day to day life was like for the citizens living through it. Microscopic details such as what they substituted for coffee, or the unusual smell of a specific type of cigarette. You really get a solid sense of the fear, hunger, and weariness that everyone dealt with day after day.

There's a thread of desperation weaving through every single character, the feeling that nothing else matters but survival. The more the author describes the uncertainty that became an every day part of life under Nazi rule, the easier it is to empathize. Just a warning, there are scenes in this book that are not for the faint of heart. Gritty scenes of extreme torture, and mass murder of innocent people, and harrowing escapes. At first I was a little worried that this story would be a too heavy for me right now, but after reading the first few chapters I started devouring the pages, unable to put it down. I easily breezed through close to 500 pages in less than two days.

One of my favorite things to read about was the relationships between the de Rocheford women. Lillian and her daughters had been through hell and back, each in their own way. Their family had been splintered, but not completely broken. It was heart wrenching to watch Genevieve come to terms with what happened to her and make the decision to risk everything for her family.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an action-packed, suspenseful war-time story with a hint of romance. Yes the characters were flawed and messy, and it made me love them all the more for their perseverance to get it right. The ending was phenomenal and everything I wanted leaving me in a happy place after turning the last page. I'm really looking forward to reading more from this author soon!
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DNF @30%
2020; Mira/HQN/HarperCollins

I have mostly enjoyed Karen Robards' novels - whether they were historical romance or romantic suspense. The pretty cover drew me in, but I should have read the synopsis. World War II books seem to be the big genre right now, and at one time I was the moth to the flame. I studied WWII in school, so it is one sub-genre I usually enjoy in historical fiction. I have read a LOT of books in this genre, and many seem to sort of have the same kind of storyline. I tell you this, as this may have been one of the reasons I abandoned this novel. I didn't feel any connection with the characters and the story seemed to gloss over my mind. I was finding myself rereading paragraphs. My mood probably also is a factor. I decided to not continue with the book. I see most of the ratings on this novel are high, so take a look at some other reviews.

***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss and NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
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Title:   The Black Swan of Paris
Author:   Karen Robards
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Paris, 1944

Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance.

When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming allied invasion. The resistance movement is tasked with silencing her by any means necessary—including assassination. But Genevieve refuses to let her mother become yet one more victim of the war. Reuniting with her long-lost sister, she must find a way to navigate the perilous cross-currents of Occupied France undetected—and in time to save Lillian’s life.

I recently read a novel about Coco Chanel’s time during the Nazi occupation—and Chanel is mentioned in passing at once point during this novel—but I found this story far more engrossing than that one. I liked Genevieve from the beginning, and she only grew more intriguing as more of her story was revealed. 

I enjoyed the parts of the story about her singing and performances, her costumes, and her glitzy life, but the mysteries and intrigues she gets into were even more fascinating. I highly recommend reading this! 
Karen Robards is a bestselling author. The Black Swan of Paris is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)
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I have read many books by Karen Robards, but this historical fiction story was totally unexpected in a very good way. It is 1944 and the war is nearing its end. The Germans are worried about the Allied attack and where it will occur. Genevieve Dumont is a famous songstress who often performs for the German troops in Paris. She is known as the Black Swan, named after one of her costumes she performs in. What she doesn't know is that her manager, Max, her parents and sister are all working for the resistance. When she finds out that her father is dead and her mother is in danger, she begs Max for his help. This is a fast paced story dealing with the resistance, spying, with a bit of romance and family drama.

Genevieve Dumond is actually Genevra de Rocheford who had a falling out with her family years ago. She ended up in America performing and eventually came back to Europe and began performing. She does not like the germans anymore than the other French and when the opportunity arises to work with the resistance, she jumps at the chance. She is a very feeling woman, but is also strong and independent. There is a past timeline dealt with flashbacks from Genevieve/Genevra where we learn about her past and the falling out with her family. The second protagonist is Max, a Brit and spy who is in the role of Genevieve's manager. There is some tension between the two that increases once Max tells her about his role in the resistance. Overall, this is a story about secrets, espionage, danger, loyalty, family, love and war. This story had me quickly listening and reading to find out what was going to happen, especially once Emmy (Emmanuelle), Genevieve's sister, shows up in the story. This was a well written and plotted story, with well developed characters. Karen Robards uses historical information to make this story realistic and enjoyable for those who enjoy historical fiction especially WWII stories.
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Karen Robards hit out of the park with The Black Swan of Paris. I can easily say that out of the 53 books I have read this year, The Black Swan of Paris is hands down my favorite book of 2020 and quite possibly one of my favorite WW2 books of all times. 

The Black Swan of Paris starts out in 1944 with Genevieve Dumont finishing up her sold-out performance in Paris. And the reader is immediately hooked by the opening sentence, " When the worst thing that could ever happen to you had already happened, nothing that came after really mattered." From that opening sentence, I felt like I couldn't put the book down. I had to know what happened to Genevieve that was so terrible that she didn't care what happened. 

This is a story that has quite a bit of torture that was very hard to read and at times made me physically ill. 

This is a fast-paced story that will leave you grasping for air and your heart pounding. I would highly suggest you to go in to reading this book not knowing much and enjoy the ride. 

Karen Robards has a new fan that is in awe of this story and I have already and will continue to tell more readers about this book. Add this to your must read list of 2020.
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I really enjoyed all the history of WWll that was in this story.  I loved learning some of the horrors that the people of France went through.  I loved learning how some of the spy networks were run during this war.  People still learned to have some good times even through all the horrors.  I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
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This book had me at the theater. The backstory unfolds slowly, which adds to the tension that is already felt through the setting. Not only was the general theatrical atmosphere accurate, but the author also managed to balance the ominous presence of the Nazis against the magic of the theater. As to the plot itself, has everything a good read should have. There’s intrigue, espionage, romance, and…oh yeah, don’t forget those Nazis. And everyone has secrets. I’m not going to spoil the plot, but let’s just say that it was all very movie-worthy. I always like finding unique settings in historical fiction novels, and this one certainly qualifies. For a detailed review, please visit Fireflies and Free Kicks. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for a digital ARC of the book.
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I was a little skeptical when I began yet another WW@ novel, but this one was unexpected and fantastic! I loved it and can't wait to share it with other WW2 and historical fiction readers!
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I received a free electronic ARC of this novel from Netgalley, Karen Robards, and Harlequin - MIRA.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.  I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.  I highly recommend this historical jewel to those who enjoy a rich, historical novel, stories set in France in World War II, or romance novels.  Karen Robards doesn't ever disappoint.  

The Black Swan of Paris is a remarkable tale with fully formed characters, and accurate and picturesque WWII background, plus a story that is fully-charged to keep you on the edge of your chair.  Even the maid, Berthe Krawiek plays an important part in this tale of espionage and war, and I loved the singer Genevieve Dumont and Max Bonet of the French underground - or is he?  Emmanuelle Granville - Emmy - and her mother Baroness Lillian de Rocheford play important and essential roles in this tale, as does Otto.  This is a book you cannot put down until the very last word is read.
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Its not fair to this book that I was reading it at the same time as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.  
They are written in the same time frame, yet one book takes place in Nazi Occupied France and the other in New York City. So it was very telling that as a reader I felt for the characters in Chabons "Kavalier & Clay" more than I did for Robards 'The Black Swan" 
I felt the effects of the war through Chabons pages in New York, more than I did in Robards pages where the Black Swan was singing for Nazis. 

Mind you Chabon is a Pulitzer Prize winning author... Winning the Pulitzer FOR the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay... which it why I started this review by saying "its not fair to this book..."

BUT unfortunately that's how it went down, 

I could not connect to these characters, I don't know if that was the writing style, or the characters themselves. 
I feel as though the author tried to pack as much sadness into these pages, but unfortunately it just fell flat. I was not heartbroken, I anticipated what would happen on the next page in the next chapter, and because of this it was not the most enjoyable read.
This book has great reviews so I was excited to read it. I guess its just not my style.
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THE BLACK SWAN OF PARIS by Karen Robards is this bestselling author’s first historical fiction book and it pulls you in with a story of estranged family dynamics, loyalty, partisans, spies, intrigue and action. It is a story that features a young internationally acclaimed singer and her perilous life during WWII in Nazi occupied Europe.

Genevieve Dumont is a celebrated cabaret star with a voice and beauty that captivates. In 1944 Paris, Nazis, partisans and spies are everywhere as the Germans prepare for the invasion they know is coming. Genevieve has been both a star and a smokescreen for her manager, Max Bonet. She knows and at times resents how she is being used and she wants to know as little as possible about Max’s secret life, until she overhears about the capture and arrest of Lillian, Baroness de Rocheford.

Genevieve has kept secrets from Max, but now she needs his help to save the baroness, who is her mother. Reunited with her sister, who is working with the SOE, a daring plan is set into motion. Will the little group be able to rescue the baroness directly from the home of the sadistic SS General Claus von Wagner?

I loved this story, but it was a little confusing in the very beginning as all the characters are introduced because the connections and histories are reveled throughout the entire book in flashbacks. Once it started to flow, I was transported back to 1944 occupied Paris. The description of the Nazi opulence contrasted with the deprivation of the Parisians, the sparkle of the cabaret, the partisan spy networks helping to prepare for the invasion, the mistrust and secrets all engage the reader and I was completely engrossed. Genevieve’s story was as tragic as it was triumphant and her entire family’s history kept me turning the pages. Ms. Robards has written historical characters that could walk off the page with a plot that builds to an action filled climax.

I highly recommend this dynamic historical fiction book with a touch of romance!
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An excellent story, gripping and entertaining. 
It's the first book  I read by this author and won't surely be the last because I loved the character development and the style of of writing.
The author is a talented storyteller and kept me hooked to this story that mixes different genres as historical fiction, women's fiction and romance making them work together and creating a fast paced plot that never bores and always keep the attention alive.
The historical background is well researched and vivid, the characters are well rounded and interesting and I rooted for them hoping in a happy ending.
An excellent read that I strongly recommend.
Many thanks to MIRA and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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When I first read the premise of this book, I was extremely intrigued.  I found this to be a departure from the typical Karen Robards’ books I have read in the past.  Even though this book falls more into the historical fiction genre, Robards still manages to develop intrigue and romance, which is reminiscent of her other books.

In 1944, at the height of WWII, Genevieve was a cabaret singer beloved by the Nazis.  This offers her the opportunity to move freely about to perform.  When the Nazis take her mother, Genevieve uses her fame to try to save her mother as well as to help the Allies.

Robards superbly combines suspense and historical fiction in The Black Swan of Paris that keeps you intrigued to the end.
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