Rachel Kapelke-Dale: The Ballerinas

This is a delicious swoon of a book.  It’s not a mystery though there are some (very) low level crimes involved, but it’s mostly a story about ballet, female friendship, and the efforts women make to be heard and acknowledged in their lives, professional and personal.  The central character is Delphine Legere, and as the book opens, she’s a young student at the Paris Opera Ballet (POB), an elite dance training school.  Delphine and her best friend, the tempestuous Margaux, are challenged by the arrival of the beautiful American student, Lindsay. read more

Lauren Willig: Band of Sisters

This is a slightly different book for Lauren Willig, as it’s more straight up history than romance or mystery.  It’s about a group of women, Smith College alums, graduating right before WWI, who form a relief unit and head to France to help the victims of the war in the French countryside.  They set sail for Paris in the summer of 1917, with ideas of what Paris will be like wildly out of sync with wartime Paris.  One girl is planning to buy her trousseau.

The two central characters are Kate, a scholarship girl at Smith who has been working as a French tutor, and Emmie, a wealthy daughter of a politically active suffragette.  The two had been best friends at Smith – Emmie’s sweet goofiness balanced by Kate’s practicality.  Kate wears a pretty big chip on her shoulder, though, and it often gets in the way of the friendship.  When they arrive in Paris, everything is topsy turvy. read more