The Map That Leads to You by J.P. Monninger
Published June 13, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
As I have mentioned before, I don’t read a lot of romance novels but something about this book intrigued me.
Heather has just graduated from Amherst college. She will be starting a job as an investment banker in the fall. Until then, she is going to enjoy her last summer free from responsibilities, traveling around Europe with her two best friends, Constance and Amy.
They have been enjoying their first few weeks traveling. Heather loves Paris and doesn’t want to leave. Now the friends are on to the next leg of their trip, and the crowded train headed for Amsterdam changes everything for Heather.
“Could you hold this?”
At first Heather doesn’t realize someone is talking to her, but when he asks again she looks up and into the eyes of a very handsome stranger. He wants her to hold his bag so he can climb up and have a nap….in the baggage rack. He even uses a bungee cord to strap himself in.
He tells her his name is Jack before he heads off to sleep. Heather continues reading but steals glances at him as he sleeps. When Jack wakes up a little later, they have their first conversation. It starts out well but then takes a quick turn for the worse, with him thinking she’s pretentious and her thinking he’s a condescending jerk. They make up, almost argue again… both seeming to enjoy the banter between them. All too quickly the train pulls into the station. After sharing a moment on the platform, they head off but make plans to meet up at a party later that evening.
Jack is from Vermont and is visiting various cities around Europe, following a path his grandfather once took. The journey is outlined in an old journal belonging to his grandfather. He wants to see the places that gave his grandfather hope after the ugliness of war.
After a very special night and magical morning. Heather wonders if Jack really is who he claims to be. She feels like there are things he’s not telling her. She realizes she doesn’t even know his last name. Jack is a fly by the seat of his pants sort. Seizes the day. A spontaneous free spirit. Heather likes to have fun but she’s more of a planner, and likes to stick to a schedule. There’s also the fact that Jack’s a bit judgemental about her career plans and has made a few passive aggressive remarks.
“I’m planning to go to New York in a few weeks to make a new start, and you let it drop that I am entering a prison of my own making”
She’s crazy about him. But after such a short time? Maybe for once in her life she doesn’t have to have everything figured out.
Or will his secrets change everything?
I thought the character development was great. Heather’s relationship with her girlfriends was heartwarming. I liked how Heather stuck up for herself with Jack, but she could also see when she may have overreacted. She came across as very well-balanced. I could see how Heather could fall for Jack right away. Not just good-looking, but funny and charming, though of course he wasn’t perfect.
“Insta-love” is something that usually doesn’t work for me. However, I found myself wondering if MAYBE it wasn’t quite so “Insta”. In the beginning there were times I was frustrated at some of the actions of certain characters. But I stopped over-thinking it, and got pulled into this budding romance. I had to see what was going to happen next.
So will Heather be able to deal with Jack’s go with the flow, Livin’ La Vida Loca style? Will she stick with her life plan or throw out her expensive Smythson day planner altogether? And what about Jack? What secrets is he keeping? Will it destroy this new and somewhat fragile relationship?
I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out!
This book surprised me…in many ways. Is it a bit predictable? Maybe. Did I care? No, not really. I’m not sure how I felt about the ending but this really was a good read. The descriptions of the places traveled were fantastic. The beautiful places they visited, at times it felt like I was actually there. In Paris, I could smell the food cooking in the restaurants. My stomach growled at the descriptions of what they were eating or the wine and expensive vodka they were drinking. I could feel the wind as they were speeding down the autobahn.
Overall, I thought this was an endearing novel with intriguing characters and an enjoyable plot.
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an advanced copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.