Title: An Improbably Pairing
Author: Gary Dickson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
It began as a simple flirtation . . .
In September of 1963, Scott Stoddard, an American graduate student, is traveling to Switzerland, when he meets the Countess de Rovere, a French divorcee; he is smitten, and she is intrigued. What begins as a little coquetry soon becomes a serious love affair, much to the consternation of the Countess’s ex-husband and mother, not to mention the Countess’s friends of European high society. A meeting of equals poses problems enough, but what about one between two people who seem to have so many differences? And when a man of traditional attitudes couples with an independent and self-confident woman, something’s got to give. It won’t be the countess. As their liaison transcends an affair that cannot be dismissed, they all agree that something must be done.
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. This pas de deux, set in the golden years of 1960s Paris, Geneva, Gstaad, and Cannes, provides an insider’s peek into the worlds of haute couture, three-star gourmet restaurants, and lavish hotel suites—the domains of rank and privilege. But society’s privileged resist when an interloper threatens to upset their cozy structure.
An Improbable Pairing: A Novel is available January 8, 2019 in paperback and e-book editions on Amazon and other retailers.
I have always enjoyed a good historical fiction romance when the couple in question has a bit of a class disparity and society and family is working to tear them apart. That is the case with Scott Stoddard, a graduate student and Countess de Rovere, a French divorcee with an incredibly jealous ex husband. When the two meet, Scott is immediately smitten with the Countess and she’s intrigued by his personality and wishes to get to know him better. As the blurb above says, what starts as simple infatuation turns into a full blown love affair, and it seems as though everyone has an opinion.
This is the third book that I’ve read this month told from the male character’s perspective, but the first written by a male author. To be honest, I was hesitant in picking this one up since it was a romance written by a male author. Not that male author’s can’t be romantic, I’ve just never read anything in the romance genre written by a male. With this in mind, I was definitely intrigued to see where the story would lead, and the male voice has a sort of uniqueness to it that I hadn’t seen in other romance novels before. Along with that, Dickson’s writing of the time period, including his descriptions of scenes and fashion were extremely well written and immersed me in the story. I was easily able to imagine what life was like for these two characters, and how society looked and felt.
However, for me, the characters of Scott and Desiree fell a bit flat for me, and that took me away from the story. I think part of this is because I read a lot of romance, and I’m used to romance that digs deep into the psyche of the character, with interesting and different reasons why the two characters struggle to form a relationship. With Scott and Desiree I missed that deep dig into the characters and instead felt that their relationship was very “surface level.” I had a hard time finding that deep seeded love that I’ve come to expect from so much romance. Perhaps that’s more of a “me” issue since I do read so much romance, but even in the historical fiction and romances that I’ve read, I normally feel a deeper connection to the characters.
I do think that Gary Dickson has room to grow, and that if he continues with his fiction writing we can only see bigger and better things from him. The groundwork is set for these two, and if you read the short interview below, you’ll see that Scott and Desiree’s story isn’t over yet. There’s more to come, and I’m intrigued what adventures Dickson and conjure up for these two characters.
Question: What do you want readers to take away from Scott and Desirée’s connection and relationship in the story?
Gary Dickson: I want readers to understand and remember the architecture of the relationship between Scott and the Countess, Desirée. While built on the chemistry of attraction and love, it is buttressed by affection, intelligence and humor. To be in love is often chemistry, but to stay in love the relationship must be of such importance that the couple is willing to make the necessary modifications to their pre-conceived desires and attitudes in order for their love to survive and blossom.
Q: What makes An Improbable Pairing so different from other historical romance novels?
Gary Dickson: Most historical fiction is heavy with obvious research piling on specifics sometimes not pertinent to the story. In the case of An Improbably Pairing, no research was necessary since the scenes and the culture of this period are so very familiar to me. As a result, the descriptions have the authenticity of first-hand experience rather than a ponderous factual approach. This story is light-hearted, fast-paced yet packed with accurate detail, as one reviewer remarked, “an almost cinematic description.”
Q: Do you have additional stories or books you are working on?
Gary Dickson: Yes, many in the works! I have already written a sequel but with an espionage and thriller flavor called A Spy with Scruples, a continuation of the Scott and Desirée story. I also have an idea for a sequel to this novel, which is a continuation of the spy motif that takes place in Switzerland, New York, and Palm Beach, FL. I have also completed another novel, a melange of a fantasy, a mystery, and a romance within the speculative fiction genre. Additionally, I have written and will shortly publish a book of poetry, La Poesie De Bonne Bouffe/The Poetry of Good Eats. A series of 25 poems in French with English translations, celebrating French food specialties, a French and English recipe for each, and an acknowledgement page which details the places I’ve frequented and learned about these delicacies.
About the Author
Gary Dickson is an inveterate traveler and a Francophile, sans merci. Educated in the United States and Switzerland in history, literature, and the classics, Gary lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Susie.