Why we love it: The Perfumer’s Secret is a romance for the senses. In her signature style, Fiona McIntosh weaves together history and fiction, transporting us to wartime France with her vivid descriptions of the scents that shape her heroine’s life, for better or for worse.
Fleurette Delacroix is the only daughter of one of the two largest perfumers in Grasse. On the eve of the First World War, she is destined to wed Aimery, the son and heir of the De Lasset dynasty, and form a crucial alliance between the two houses.
Unhappy with the arrangement, Fleurette is only saved from the marital bed by the tolling of the bells calling every able-bodied man to war. As she takes her place as mistress of the De Lasset household, she receives a note that will change the destiny of both families forever.
Along with her twin Felix, Fleurette has inherited ‘the nose’, a magical ability to decipher thousands of scents with one simple sniff. Their talent has inspired envy in the hearts of many, including their older brother Henri, head of the household and negotiator of her arranged marriage. And with her marriage comes the realisation that Aimery’s mistress Graciela has no intention of giving him up.
With the men away at war, Fleurette takes her rightful place at the factory alongside the other women left behind, and creates a stockpile of valuable essential oils that can help revive the company once the war has ended. When she and Graciela call a truce, the realisation that she must endure a loveless marriage is laid at her feet. But the sudden arrival of Sebastien, Aimery’s half brother, upsets her carefully laid plans.
Born in London after his mother fled her unhappy marriage, Sebastien couldn’t be more different to Aimery – dark-haired, kind, gentle. From the moment they meet, a spark passes between them, kindled only by the revelations that he hinted at in his note but refused to reveal in writing. With the war raging on, Fleurette must keep their mutual attraction hidden, and await Aimery’s return to reveal a shocking secret that will threaten to tear the social fabric of Grasse apart.
Fiona McIntosh’s latest offering is an intimate and unusual portrait of wartime France, and of a perfume dynasty. With her extensive research and her signature writing style, readers are immediately transported into the lives of Fleurette and the people of Grasse. Lovers of McIntosh’s previous historical romance novels will be captivated by her headstrong new heroine, who is very much a modern woman.
McIntosh is a prolific and internationally renowned author. After 15 years of running a travel magazine, she decided to try her hand at writing and her first novel, Betrayal, was published in 2001. Since then, she has written 23 adult novels, two non-fiction books, one book of short stories and six children’s novels. When not writing, she has a daily ritual of coffee and dark chocolate (her two vices) and loves reading research books for her historical novels.