Marilyn Brant Takes Us to the French Riviera!

Today I'm so happy to be hosting Marilyn Brant who's taking readers on a virtual trip around Europe.

Marilyn is the award-winning women's fiction author of ACCORDING TO JANE (2009), FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE (2010) and her newest novel, A SUMMER IN EUROPE (December 1, 2011), all from Kensington Books. She's also a #1 Kindle bestseller and has written a series of fun and flirty contemporary romantic comedies, available exclusively as original ebooks. The first of these, ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAE, was released in June 2011 and hit Amazon's Top 100 List for "Bestsellers in Humor." Her second digital story, DOUBLE DIPPING, was a September 2011 release. Marilyn has traveled to 46 states and over 30 countries (so far -- she's not done yet!), but she now lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family.

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Brant transports readers across the pond on a grand journey of self-awakening amidst the classic architecture and stunning vistas of Europe...

On her 30th birthday, Gwendolyn Reese receives and unexpected present from her widowed Aunt Bea: a grand tour of Europe in the company of Bea's Sudoku and Mahjongg Club. The prospect isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she is expecting -- an engagement ring from her boyfriend -- doesn't materialize, Gwen decides to go.

At first, Gwen approaches the trip as if it's the math homework she assigns her students, diligently checking monuments off her must-see list. But amid the bougainvillea and beauty of southern Italy, something changes. Gwen begins to live in the moment -- skipping down stone staircases in Capri, running her fingers over a glacier in view of the Matterhorn, racing through the Louvre and taste-testing pastries, wine and gelato. Reveling in every new experience -- especially her attraction to a charismatic British physics professor -- Gwen discovers that the ancient wonders around her are nothing compared to the renaissance unfolding within...

"Brant's newest...distinguishes itself with a charismatic leading man and very funny supporting cast, especially the wonderful elderly characters with their resonant message about living life to the fullest." ~Publishers Weekly


Thanks so much for inviting me here today, Maureen!!
Maureen: My pleasure. What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
Marilyn: My husband and I were both public school teachers in the 1990s so, before becoming home owners or parents, we would go on these backpacking trips together for weeks at a time. For a several summers we traveled to Europe, stayed at cheap hotels or youth hostels, Eurailed to different sites, walked for seven hours or more on most days (sightseeing is great exercise!) and lived on pub food in England, bakery pastries in France, chocolate bars in Germany and gelato in Italy. Definitely my kind of vacation.

Maureen: What’s your favorite dessert?
Marilyn: Anything with chocolate! Well, okay, there are some things dipped in chocolate I wouldn’t eat (i.e., crickets, celery, any kind of fish…ugh), so I’ll amend that: ALMOST anything with chocolate!

Maureen: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and why?
Marilyn: There are so many historical figures from the past that I’d love to meet in person…or even observe from a nice safe distance (was Attila the Hun *really* that bad?! LOL), but from a literary standpoint, Jane Austen was always my idol. So, it would be fascinating to return to England of the early 1800s to meet her for tea.

Maureen: What do you do to unwind and relax?
Marilyn: I listen to music on my iPod -- too loudly, I’m sure. And, when I’m feeling motivated and the weather isn’t keeping me inside, I love to listen to the music while walking. My heroine in this new novel loves Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals (so do I), so I listened to a lot of soundtracks while writing it -- especially The Phantom of the Opera.

Maureen: Strawberry daiquiri or a beer?
Marilyn: Strawberry daiquiri, hands down (although, I have a hard time *spelling* “daiquiri…). I wish I liked the taste of beer a bit more. I used to live in La Crosse, Wisconsin -- home of the G. Heileman Brewing Company, the makers of Old Style Beer -- and they had the world’s largest six-pack right in front of the building back then. I was an undergrad in college at the time and EVERYONE I knew loved beer… I loved it only as a helpful cooking ingredient for beer bread and beer brats, which are both delicious, by the way!

Gotta Ask/Gotta Answer:
Maureen: I love the settings in A Summer in Europe. Which location was one of your favorites? How many of the places your characters visit have you actually traveled to?
Marilyn: To answer the second question first, I’ve visited almost every place my characters traveled to in the book -- all the locales mentioned in Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium and most of the ones in France and England. I never got to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny, France, and that was a stop I’d always wanted to make. I also didn’t visit Guildford Castle in Surrey, England, which I would have liked to see. The others…yes ☺.

As for a location I loved -- I have some very fond memories of the French Riviera, though probably for all the “wrong” reasons. It was unusual, specific and sometimes really random things that made the place special to me, not the typical sites, though gorgeous (!!), that tourists are supposed enjoy. For instance, our favorite lunch spot along the coast was a tiny, inexpensive Vietnamese café that served really fresh spring rolls with a mint dipping sauce. I loved those spring rolls! (I think we ate them every day for 3 or 4 days…) And the beach, which was beautiful to walk along but, in my opinion, ONLY if you were wearing shoes! There were so many sharp stones along the shore that I much preferred the pedestrian walkway. (I’ve included a picture of my husband and me standing there from the early ‘90s -- ahhh, we were so young!)

But probably the oddest memory that stuck with me through the years was that, at our little hotel in Nice, someone had left a romance novel in the room. It was in English and, when I tried to turn it in to the lady owner, she told me to keep it. I later gave it to someone else I met on the trip and have since long forgotten which author wrote it…but I’ll never forget that I was compelled to read it. That I was visiting a lovely and romantic place and was also enjoying a story that was as lovely and romantic. It was like being in two wonderful places at once. And I really loved that, even though I’d had no idea at the time that I’d ever write a romantic story myself.
Question for GLIAS readers:

Okay, now I want to know…what are books that you consider to be especially romantic? I was just asked that question for the Goodreads newsletter this month. Five of my choices are here: http://www.goodreads.com/interviews/show/632.Marilyn_Brant , but I would love to know a few of yours. And, what’s one of the most romantic places you’ve ever traveled to? Did something in particular make it memorable?

If you’re a travel lover like me, I’m doing a virtual grand European tour (with pictures and a few personal stories) for anyone interested in taking part in the adventure! Most of the itinerary is below:
Friday 11/25: Rome at Magical Musings
Monday 11/28: Pompeii at
SOS Aloha
Tuesday 11/29: Isle of Capri at
The Stiletto Gang
Wednesday 11/30: Venice at
Girlfriends Book Club
Thursday 12/1: Budapest at
Women's Fiction Writers
Friday 12/2: Florence at
Writer Unboxed
Monday 12/5: London at
Austen Authors
Tuesday 12/6: Salzburg at
Robin Bielman's Blog
Wednesday 12/7: Lake Como at
Brant Flakes
Monday 12/12: French Riviera at
Get Lost in a Story  (today!)
Wednesday 12/14: Pisa at
Fly High
Wednesday 12/21: Vienna at
What Women Write
Monday 1/9: Brussels at
Tuesday 1/10: Paris at
Chick Lit Central

The full list of travel stops, interviews and giveaways will be updated through the month on my website: http://www.marilynbrant.com . I hope you'll join me for a few other cities on the tour! And if you'd like to read an excerpt from A Summer in Europe, which is a Literary Guild, BOMC2 and Rhapsody Book Club featured alternate selection for December 2011, you can find one here:  http://www.marilynbrant.com/MBbooksEURO.html  

Thanks to Maureen and to everyone here at GLIAS for having me as a guest -- it was a pleasure!


One lucky commenter will win A SUMMER IN EUROPE luggage tag and t-shirt!

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


  1. The most romantic spot I ever visited was Cannon Beach, Oregon. Although I am divorced now, I still have to say that my then husband and I enjoyed our time there immensely. I still have fond memories of that time.

    England is the only place I have been to in Europe.

  2. I don't get to travel much. Two kids, dog, husband, a job that doesn't give us off weeks at a time. :)

    I think the most romantic book I ever read was Persuasion, by Jane Austen. The funny thing is, it's not even my favorite Austen story, and I thought it was just some nice entertainment, nothing special, until I got to The Letter.

    O. M. G.

  3. Hmm.....most romantic spot, most romantic spot. The Bollitieri Academy in Sarasota? My husband bought me a week long stint to train like the pros for my birthday one year and I LOVED it. But I suppose that in the traditional sense of romance, it would have to be my honeymoon on the Greek Isles--Mykonos, Santorini and then the mainland Athens.

    Thanks for the excellent interview with Marilyn. She and her husband look so warm and adorable in that picture ;-). Both very true sentiments.

  4. Thanks again for doing the interview, Marilyn! And I have to say, you and your hubby are adorable in that photo!

  5. Ruth, I visited the state of Oregon for the first time in October and thought it was so pretty! There was a lot I didn't see, though, so you've given me a reason to go back and explore some more ;). Thank you.

    Abigail, O.M.G. is right!!! That letter was so awesome... I'm a Pride & Prejudice fanatic, but Wentworth outdid even Darcy in the romantic department on that one. It's my favorite part of Persuasion, too.

    Pamala, I *heart* U...thanks. And you're going to have to tell me more about both of these trips! I didn't know you'd gone to Greece for your honeymoon (so beautiful!), but I don't think there's *anything* more romantic than a man giving his beloved the kind of gift that would make her swoon with delight. Knowing your love of tennis, the Academy week must have been AMAZING!

    Maureen, thank YOU for inviting me and for setting things up so beautifully! And LOL about me and the hubby -- thanks ;). We were young but, judging from my dress, not all that fashion conscious. Sadly, that skill hasn't improved for me with age *grin*.

  6. I don't get to travel much so I do most of my traveling in books. I have been to so many places in books.

  7. Virginia, I've traveled far more in books than in real life, too... (Makes going through border checks and airport security lines much faster. ;)

  8. Glad to have you here today Marilyn and to see your travels. :-) You've got me thinking...I've been to several U.S. states. I really need to think about why one would be romantic.


  9. Hmm, my most romantic place? Well, since Sam and I have not been many places, I am going to be cheesy and say anywhere where Sam & I are together...childless!
    Another great interview, Marilyn!

  10. I'm so envious Marilyn of all the great travel pics you have of you and your husband. Mark and I got home from Paris once to realize we didn't have ONE pic of us together on the 9 day trip. After a Prague trip we only had two pics. So we've gotten better at asking people to take our picture.

    The most romantic spots I've visited would include Portofino Italy, a small port city. It's just a row of shops and restaurants tucked along the shoreline. Anywhere in Paris. Especially the quai opposite Notre Dame where there is a floating restaurant playing violin music. But I also find the Paris cemeteries very romantic-sounds morbid, but true. Montmartre especially because it's not real touristy and it's overgrown with lush foilage and has gorgeous sculptures. It's even more romantic when it's raining. And Prague, dining at a restaurant opposite of the castle at sunset.

    Thanks for another great stop on your itinerary Marilyn. Hope your book sales are out of this world!

  11. Angi, thanks so much for having me here today! When it comes to the different states, I always think of ones with sandy beaches as romantic because (aside from chilly Lake Michigan) that's not something I get to see very often in Northern Illinois!

    Jakki, thank you!! And I *love* your "cheesy" answer ;). It's so difficult when you have kids to be able to get away -- even for a night or two -- with your hubby and without the children! It feels romantic just going out for a cup of coffee together sometimes, just as a couple, doesn't it?!

  12. Ohhh, Beth, I've loved reading about your travel memories as much as I've enjoyed remembering my own! Dining across the street from the castle in Prague at sunset?! *happy sigh!* As for the pictures, there were many times when we forgot to ask somebody to take them of the two of us together -- or we *did* ask but the photo turned out terribly. (All of my European traveling was done back in the days of my 35mm camera. I'd love to go back just to reshoot everything digitally!!)

  13. wow Marilyn, love those pics. I want to go to England someday, got my passport ready, lol

  14. Especially romantic books? All those by Helen MacInnes and Mary Stewart.

    One of the most romantic places you’ve ever traveled to? Greece, which was particularly memorable as my husband had a huge family there with whom we visited. I still remember pinching myself on the first night, repeating to myself, "I'm in Greece".

    However, I would so love a side excursion to the Riviera, so thanks for the arm chair stopover.

  15. Dina, I love that you have your passport ready to go. (I've got mine ready, too, and I've never used this one!!) Here's hoping we'll both get to take an international trip soon...

    Liz, that visit to Greece must have been just wonderful...not only because of all the beautiful sites, but because you had your husband's family sharing with you the insider's scoop on everything. As for authors, I'm familiar with Mary Steward but Helen MacInnes is a new name to me -- I'll look up her books! (p.s. Check my blog when you can -- you won something there ;).

  16. The most romantic place I have been was the cruise lines private island with its white powdery beach, beautiful flowers, and my husband. I could have stayed there all week! Aahhh...nice memories.
    Happy Holidays!

  17. I'll stick with the favorite romantic book. I've read MANY romances and loved them, but I have to pick Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. One of the greatest character building books ever. And the story is told with wit and yet compassion for the characters. Even the silliest. Jane Austen was a genius.

    Marilyn, thanks for taking me to all of these places. And for sharing the food, of course. lol

  18. I love Kristen Higgins! Here stories always get to me (she is the only author to make me cry). If you want a truly romantic story, read her!

  19. phoenixcarvelli, ohh, a private island! Sounds heavenly...sigh. I'd love to visit some place like that, too!

    Edie, as soon as I realized that you'd loved P&P like I did, I knew I'd found a friend ;). I love all those things about Austen's writing, too -- you've nailed it. Yes, she was witty, but she was also so compassionate in understanding the very human mistakes we all can make. Definitely a genius!! And you are such a wonderful friend to hop around the Internet with me. It's quite possible there will be no food discussed in "Pisa"...but I make no such promises for "Vienna" or "Paris" *grin*.

    Sherie, I love Kristan Higgins, too!!! I was fortunate enough to get to review one or two of her books years ago, and I fell in love with her great sense of humor and warm romance. So glad you love her writing as well!

  20. This book has been on my wish list. Can't wait to read it.

  21. Kmannrn, thank you very much! I hope it's a story you'll really enjoy ;).

  22. A perfect place for vacation with family and friends especially this coming holiday season, Christmas!

    Pousadas Em Natal

  23. For me, the most romantic place I have visited is Garden City, SC. Garden City is located just south of Myrtle Beach. I think this is a romantic place because my hubby and I spent our honeymoon there. :)

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net