Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran

Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (384 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon

When French perfumer Danielle Bretancourt steps aboard a luxury ocean liner, leaving her son behind in Poland with his grandmother, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. The year is 1939, and the declaration of war on the European continent soon threatens her beloved family, scattered across many countries. Traveling through London and Paris into occupied Poland, Danielle searches desperately for her the remains of her family, relying on the strength and support of Jonathan Newell-Grey, a young captain. Finally, she is forced to gather the fragments of her impoverished family and flee to America. There she vows to begin life anew, in 1940s Los Angeles.

There, through determination and talent, she rises high from meager jobs in her quest for success as a perfumer and fashion designer to Hollywood elite. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, Scent of Triumph by commanding newcomer Jan Moran is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.

Scent of Triumph is a showcase for a wonderful heroic female lead. She is courageous, driven and passionate. She struggles heroically to save family and people, during the horrors of WWII.

Danielle is a trained professional in the perfume industry, and she is also an American with ties to Europe (and through her husband, to Germany.) We begin with this unique perspective, but, very unlike the kind of overview of events that I anticipated, we plunge into the war in a very personal way. Danielle will be faced with terrible circumstances and will be challenged to step up as a patriot.

We see this main character struggle in the face of adversity and become completely attached to her, and her cause. Events of the times, especially in Europe (although not entirely), fill these pages and become incontrovertibly part of the plot. Romance its also entwined, although at first, quite uncomfortably. The awkwardness of the not-quite romance causes us to suspect, early on, a convenient event…and though it does not remain awkward, its predictable quality is regrettable, as it seems contrived.

The story is detailed, engaging and often events are quite unpredictable. The backdrop will appeal to anyone who likes to read wartime novels. Historical references seem quite accurate abound (from fashion, to cultural/sexist attitudes, to popular culture and celebrity references.) Some details of the times just make for fun reading. Perfume industry, processes and even its history all add to the story, also in a completely unanticipated way. I think historical fiction fans will enjoy this one.

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