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Scent of Triumph

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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.

426 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2012

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About the author

Jan Moran

41 books3,832 followers
Never miss a sale or new release! Follow Jan on Amazon and sign up for her newsletter to hear about specials and giveaways. If you like to binge read, visit Jan's online shop for special ebook and audiobook bundles: https://store.janmoran.com/collection...

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Note from Jan: If you like fun beach reads or romantic sagas that whisk you off to places like California beaches or Italy, Paris, and Napa Valley, then come on in. I write feel-good novels with heart that will help you escape. Join me in my Facebook Readers Group, too, where we celebrate good books and cheer each other on: https://www.facebook.com/groups/58425.... That's where I share sales, ARCs, and lots of fun times.

Here's where you can find all my books: https://viewauthor.at/JanMoranBooks.

So what's new? Look for the new SEABREEZE SHORES. I'm also thrilled to share that SEABREEZE BOOK CLUB and CORAL COTTAGE made the USA Today bestseller list, so we've been celebrating. Besides my women's fiction beach series, I also write 20th-century historical sagas with a touch of romance. THE WINEMAKERS is my latest re-launch, and HEPBURN'S NECKLACE, set against the Audrey Hepburn film, ROMAN HOLIDAY is my latest dual timeline historical.

If you like Mary Kay Kay Andrews, Elin Hilderbrand, Brenda Novak, and Mary Alice Monroe beach reads, then you'll want to start with SEABREEZE INN. If you like to escape to another time with Danielle Steel, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, or Fiona Davis, then check out THE CHOCOLATIER, a sweet read set on the shores of Amalfi, Italy, HEPBURN'S NECKLACE iN Lake Como, Italy, or THE WINEMAKERS, which will whisk you to 1950s Napa Valley and Tuscany.

If you're an audiobook aficionado, you're in luck! Most of my books are available in audio on my store: https://store.janmoran.com/collection..., and on Audible, Apple, and Amazon, read by the super-talented Erin Bennett (Elin Hilderbrand, Debbie Macomber, etc), an award-winning narrator.

My LOVE CALIFORNIA series is also a lot of fun. It's a linked series of six best friends that I based on some of my favorite travel destinations. Each book is a mini-vacay, starting with Paris in FLAWLESS, Spain in BEAUTY MARK, Malibu and Ireland in RUNWAY, and three more fun locales. These are also widely available on audio Audible, Apple, and Amazon, as well as Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Let's keep in touch! Here's how:
- Follow me on Bookbub to learn of all my sales, new releases, and preorders: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jan-m...
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- And...get a free read when you join my newsletter group: http://www.janmoran.com/contact-jan.

If you're a library patron and prefer to borrow from a library, simply ask your local library to order copies for you and other patrons. Library ebooks are also available through Libby, Overdrive, and CloudLibrary, so your librarian can purchase ebooks through these services to make them accessible to you. Just ask; many of my books are there.

My books have also been translated into German, Polish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Turkish, Russian, Lithuanian, and other languages. Most titles are also available in audiobooks and large print.

Thank you all for your support on this amazing writing journey. I love to hear from readers--that's how your beloved Seabreeze Inn has kept growing new books. And thank you for sharing my books with your friends. If you have book club meetings and would like to connect with me by Zoom, please reach out through my website at https://www.janmoran.com/contact.

Happy reading!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 243 reviews
Profile Image for Melinda.
1,020 reviews
August 9, 2016
I was excited to read this book, however, my excitement diminished fairly quickly.

I enjoyed reading of Danielle's perfume lineage, her exceptional olfactory gift, her amazing intuition. I was taken with Sofia, her strength, her courage. Her presence was short lived but powerful and affecting. Reading of Nicky and his plight was emotional. The ravages of war clearly depicted.

The narrative was too dramatic for my taste and all predictable. Multiple subplots served as a distraction, most left frayed. I felt as if I was reading a arduous task to weave multiple books into one attempt at capturing a solid plot. Too much going on for my taste, bottom line. Every character has heavy issues, at every corner doom dwells. Implausible and overdone. I could not relate to Danielle at all in regards to Nicky's missing status. Danielle lacked emotion, her demeanor drove me nuts, her manner was less than vanilla, bland would be generous.

Simply a matter of taste and this particular book wasn't my cup of tea. The majority will disagree and find Moran's effort exceptional. Admittedly I am in the minority.
Profile Image for Jan Moran.
Author 41 books3,832 followers
May 15, 2017
Hope everyone enjoys reading Scent of Triumph as much as I enjoyed writing it. Would love to hear from everyone--let me know what you think!
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews798 followers
November 30, 2015
DNF around 62%

I really tried my best to finish this book. But I just couldn't find anything that I liked with it, neither the characters or the story worked for me. It was very predictable. In the end, I jumped to the end and read it to see if it would end as I thought it would. And, I was right.

One thing that bothered me while I read this book was how superficial the story felt and the lack of depth to the characters. This is a story that takes place during WW2, but even when horrible things happens in the book does it manage to move me because the character and the story never really comes to life. It's just so lifeless. And, all this stuff about perfume and how trained Danielle was in smelling and then when she in the beginning hugged Jon and smelled how good he smelled, that made me realize how this would all end. I just don't like stories that are so predictable. I mean come on, Hm, the main character is married, but has feelings for another man and now her husband is on his way to Poland to find their son, hmmm I wonder what will happen.

Sorry, this book just didn't work for me.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
923 reviews601 followers
October 15, 2015
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I don't know where to begin with Jan Moran's Scent of Triumph. The book made an unmistakable impression, it left me speechless and I find myself at a loss in describing my experience with it.

Moran's style and tone grated my nerves from the start. The language she employs struck me as repetitive and the story is positively saturated with purple prose. I make a point of ignoring the odd hiccup in spelling and grammar, but Moran struggles with neither. This is a technique and one that didn't hold much appeal for this particular reader.

The book is character heavy which might have worked, if any of the cast had struck my fancy. Unfortunately, I felt the lot underdeveloped, wooden and clichéd. Danielle Bretancourt and Jonathan Newell-Grey lacked charisma and depth. Cameron Murphy had potential, but I don't feel Moran executed it to her best advantage. Heinrich and Sofia were promising, but they enjoy relatively minor roles and weren't as necessary to Danielle's experience as they were Nicky's.

To make matters worse, I felt Moran's execution predictable, unbalanced and heavy-handed. Danielle's takes place against WWII, but the global conflict hardly competes with the author's portrayal of the perfumer's art. I felt the first half of the narrative entirely unnecessary and I often found myself wondering at the author's delivery. There is a distinct lack of tension and many of the main plot points are weakly tied together.

I'm a stubborn mule and finished the novel for no other reason than a desire to say I did, but nothing about this piece worked for me and I don't see myself recommending it down the road.
701 reviews21 followers
November 12, 2020
I enjoyed this book. I especially liked how it started with a storm of one kind meeting a storm of a different kind. I honestly believe that this is the best of Jan Moran’s historical novels.

It’s set in WWII and follows young mother and perfume formulator Danielle. She’s French, her husband German. While she and her husband are in the United States, her mother-in-law and son remain in Poland. When the Third Reich descends upon Poland, Danielle and her husband rush back to Europe to attempt to rescue their family.

The book is filled with romance, struggle, survival, and loss. While there is sadness, it is also filled with happiness. It’s a nicely balanced mix of emotions.

I especially enjoyed the perfume aspect of this story. It was interesting to learn some aspects of perfume formulation and ingredient creation. How flowers need to be picked and processed at just the right moment to hold the peak of their fragrance. How adding certain ingredients aided or harmed the final perfume, how creating a successful perfume is a process of trial and error and of meticulous record keeping.

I received an ARC of this book from the author. I thank her for her generosity, but it had not effect on this review. All opinions in this review reflect my true and honest reactions to reading this book.
Profile Image for The Lit Bitch.
1,252 reviews391 followers
April 18, 2015
I love war time romances…like with a passion! It has been a long time since I’ve read a book in one sitting…..like a LONG TIME.

This book took me by complete surprise at how compelling it was. I was addicted from the very beginning and literally could not put it down until I finished it. I don’t know what it is about forbidden romances that just gets me but there just is!

The chemistry between Danielle and Jon was electric. I loved their love story…..tragic, genuine, and tender.

I loved Jon, he completely stole my heart. Who could not love Danielle? She fought against the worst odds and did whatever she had to do to keep her family safe. I loved those enduring qualities about her.

The story seemed epic in nature but I didn’t feel like I was reading an epic if that makes sense. The writing style was straight forward and the story moved, it didn’t have any spots that lagged or that I felt like weren’t relevant. Every thing that was happening moved the story forward. It was an ‘epic’ love affair but it wasn’t an epic length book which was nice.

The only thing that I wanted more of was the story about Nicky (Danielle’s son). There were only bits and pieces and I felt like the true focus of the story was the romance and how Danielle sacrificed, not so much about finding her son.

I think the story could actually have been told without that element and been just as good. For me it didn’t add that much more drama etc to the story, there was plenty of drama with the romance angle. Overall it just seemed like an underdeveloped story line…..the heart of the novel was the romance.

This book totally reminded me of a cross between the movies Pearl Harbor and Coco Before Chanel. It was this great war time romance about a women stuck between two men who also designs the most amazing clothes and perfume ever. WIN WIN WIN!

See my full review here
Profile Image for Hannah Fielding.
Author 14 books638 followers
December 14, 2012
One word to describe the book: divine. Such a pleasurable few days I spent lost in this fictional world.

The plot is deeply moving and feels very realistically – hauntingly so when it comes to events related to loss and the war. There’s good pace, and plenty of suspense to keep you wanting to turn the pages. I was quite caught up in the story, to the point that I was tearful on several occasions. And such a marvellous ending!

I felt enormously empathetic towards Danielle, the protagonist. She’s mature, courageous, hard-working, sensible and fiercely independent – all qualities that make her easy to like. This is not a heroine bowed down by adversity, but one who turns it to her advantage. I was especially drawn to her relationships with people – as a mother and daughter, and as a wife. There’s a compelling realism in these relationships that stands out in the writing. When a main character is so human – full of unrealised passions, doing her best with her lot while yearning for more – it is a recipe for a book that really touches the core of the reader.

I adored the themes of fashion and scent that are explored in the book, and the glimpses of life in the upper classes and Hollywood elite. There is such a sense of wartime and post-war Europe and America, and I felt transported back in time as I read. I could imagine the scenes and the people with amazing clarity.

For me, the best part of the book is the sublime description which very deliberately appeals to the sense of smell, as in the following: "Danielle gazed out of the window. She shook her hair in the cool breeze and inhaled, the scents of lavender and rose and jasmine sweet in the lucent air. To her, these were the aromas of creativity, of freedom, where she’d always been happiest."

In my own writing I always describe in such a way that the reader can see and hear and taste and feel and smell the details of a setting, and I felt a real affinity to Jan’s way of writing. Indeed, by the end of the book I would swear I could smell Danielle’s famous creation, the perfume Chimère. The author has such a wealth of understanding of beauty and scent which comes across in the book, and I found myself visiting her website (http://janmoran.com) when I finished reading, keen to learn more about her. I was delighted to find that she has a book out called Fabulous Fragrances that explores the stories behind 350 prestige perfumes – fascinating!

In sum, I count myself a Jan Moran fan now and I eagerly anticipate her next novel, which I’ve no doubt will be ‘scentsational’…
Profile Image for Donia.
1,082 reviews
January 29, 2020
I found this novel quite unrealistic and very unfocused...the writing at grammar school level. I had the impression that the author couldn't decide what tale to tell and therefore felt the need to keep throwing things into each chapter hoping something would evolve into a worthy tale.

All throughout I kept asking myself "where is this story going"? The only thread that was constant was the fact that she was missing her little boy and even that didn't seem to take center stage.

Perhaps the silliest scene was when the ocean liner gets torpedoed, and what's her name "falls" out of the lifeboat, all but drowns and then miracle of miracle, (oh ya, Danielle) finds herself moments later on her way to a wealthy friends home where she can stay. I kept wondering wasn't she dripping wet?
Wasn't she getting everything wet? Wasn't she cold...? Instead the author has to be certain that we know that her "main crush" soon swoops in for a peck on the cheek at a friends house. Give me a break...
Profile Image for Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk).
1,463 reviews2,379 followers
July 28, 2018
„Zapach miłości” to pełna dramatów i trudnych wyborów historia o przepustce do elitarnego świata, wypełnionego klasą i glamourem dawnych epok. Wojna to dopiero początek opowieści, preludium do spełnionego amerykańskiego snu, w którym miesza się piękno tradycyjnych perfum, bogatych strojów, mody haute couture ze zwyczajną tęsknotą za bliskością. Jan Moran stworzyła romans historyczny, który porwie czytelnika w swe sidła, uwiedzie i da chwilę wytchnienia, zabierając w podróż do tych zapomnianych już czasów, gdy kobiety i mężczyźni nowego świata spełniali krok po kroku swój amerykański sen, budując imperium.

Opowieść romantyczna, kobieca, rozpachniona – dla wielbicielek historycznych powieści z miłosną nutą.
Profile Image for Laurie • The Baking Bookworm.
1,447 reviews373 followers
April 8, 2013
This book review, as well as many more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca).

Note: My sincere thanks to Briarcliffe Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author: Jan Moran
Type: e-book
Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII)
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Briarcliffe Press
Publication Date: December 7, 2012
First Line: "Danielle Bretancourt von Hoffman braced herself against the gleaming mahogany-paneled stateroom wall, striving for balance as she flung open a brass porthole."

My Thoughts: This book felt like it was two very different books rolled into one. The first third of the book was a historical fiction read based in the tumultuous WWII. It was a very 'edge of your seat' and emotional read and I really enjoyed it.

Somewhere around the time that Danielle moves to the USA the feel of the book, its pace and intensity change dramatically. It went from gripping historical fiction to more of a romance saga, a la Sidney Sheldon. There's nothing wrong with that but the sudden change in pace and feel of the book surprised me. Unfortunately the last two thirds of the book felt much more predictable and the characters were

clichéd. I think that allowing the reader to get to know the characters inner feelings and thoughts would have helped make them more dynamic and real to me.

That said, I did enjoy Danielle as the main character. She is a resilient woman who gets all sorts of life's horrors thrown at her and yet she keeps struggling to make something of herself in order to support her family. What took away from her successes is that a lot of it hinged on quite a lot of good luck on her part. I always had the feeling that something would pop up to help her on her way which didn't help with the predictability issue.

There were also the 'near misses' that Danielle and the man she truly loves have due to a simple omission of information or a misunderstanding. This happened a few times and ended up, for me, feeling a little hokey and just made me feel frustrated with their relationship. Overall, the last two-thirds of the book suffered from this predictability and the pace suffered as well.

Personally, I would have loved to have more of the book focus on the WWII action. It was intense and emotional and griped me from the beginning. One of the characters who helped make it so 'edge of your seat' is the villainous Heinrich. Unfortunately he had a very minor role in the book and I was more than a little shocked that he wasn't used more to stir things up later on.

There is another character in the book whom I wanted to learn more about but sadly it didn't happen until the very end of the book. Danielle loses contact with this person due to WWII. Throughout the book her loss is felt but when she finally gets closure with this missing person it's done in such a rushed and quick manner that I felt a little jilted. I wanted to know exactly what his/her story was and what they went through in the past several years.

This is a book about triumphing over life's obstacles. It's about holding onto hope and being successful despite what life throws at you. It centres around the science, techniques and skill involved in the development and design of perfume (which I found really interesting). Unfortunately, the predictable plot and the switch from griping historical fiction to more of a slow romantic saga effected the pace and energy that was in the beginning of the book.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Profile Image for Sandi Layne.
Author 19 books152 followers
February 11, 2013
Heroine: Danielle Bretancourt
Hero: Jonathan Newell-Grey
Special areas of research: Perfume creation, Orphan charities, fashion, Hollywood of 1940’s


Scent of Triumph opens with fear and longing.

Traveling home via ocean liner to Europe after a business trip to the United States, Danielle and her husband Max are shocked by the news of the Nazi grab for power. Danielle worries desperately for their son Nick, who had been left behind in the care of his grandmother, and with good cause. Moran is very careful to make sure the memory of her son is never far from Danielle’s mind, pricking her and the readers with a poignancy that keeps this novel from sinking into overwrought melodrama.

For there is a lot of drama. They were dramatic times, yes, but Danielle is forced to experience most of the tragedies of the era, all heaped upon her strong, determined, auburn head.

Coming from a long line of respected perfumers, Danielle has a solid background that I enjoyed as I grew acquainted with her. A talented artist in this field, she also comes to design clothing and becomes quite a trendsetter, rising from the poverty into which the war dropped her to shine at the top of society before the novel’s end.

There are villains - horrible villains. There are good men and women. And there is The Hero, Jon Newell-Grey, who carries a torch for Danielle during the duration of the story. He comes from a wealthy family of shipping magnates and is truly a good man.

It’s a good story, too. But it is overwrought.

Are there spies? Of course. Are there bombs? Yes. Naval attacks? Yes. Secrets? Littering the ground at times. And the author keeps the resolution as to what did indeed happen to Nicky, the son that was left behind with his grandmother while his parents traveled overseas, until almost the very last page.

If you read this book, be prepared to be manipulated. Despite my aversion to melodrama in general, I still had my eyes burning with tears while seated in an airplane, reading this. Twice. There are some lovely emotions, tender notes, and the beauty and art of the perfumer that captivated me. Living in Danielle’s mind as she creates truly is a work of art.

But the rest of it felt like one of those Beautiful People stories that flooded the market in the 1980’s and I have perhaps read more of them than I should have. Still, I came for the perfume and the history, and those aspects did not disappoint.

If you like World War II drama, if you are interested in learning about a rare art form, I recommend this romance.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,224 reviews2,729 followers
November 17, 2013
Heading toward England on a Newell-Grey luxury liner with her husband Max, Danielle Bretancourt von Hoffman was feeling nauseous on the heavily pitching seas. The storm was intense and her pregnancy made her feel much worse. Jonathan Newell-Grey was also onboard heading home to rejoin his family; he admired Max and found his wife to be a beautiful and gracious young woman. It was September 1939 and to the horror of all, England suddenly declared war on Germany. Hitler had declared his intent and already disaster was occurring throughout Europe.

Arriving in England after being rescued from their ship, which was torpedoed and sunk in the deep seas, Danielle was anxious to find her husband – had he survived? Homeless and penniless, Jon’s family and friends were a wonderful support – but Danielle was desperate to find her son. He had been left in Poland with Max’s mother when they had sailed. Sofia was to take Nicky to Paris to meet up with the family, but they had heard Sofia was too ill to make the journey. And they were unable to make contact with any of the family as the war was impacting on everything….

Many months later, alone, lost and grieving, Danielle needed to flee Paris – she had lost so much but she was determined to save the few members of her family who remained. With one of her dearest friends, Abigail, Jon’s sister, living in Los Angeles, Danielle decided America would be their salvation. So with the help of the French resistance they arrived in Los Angeles, alive but completely destitute – Danielle’s life, as she struggled to build a range of French perfume with her talents and family history within the industry, would change yet again over the course of the next few years.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Danielle Bretancourt was a very strong and resilient young woman, her strength of character shone through continually. The story was an emotional one, with deep and intense sadness blended with happiness, success and love. There were twists and turns throughout, some which had me gasping in shock; overall this is a book which I have no hesitation in recommending highly.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy to read and review.
66 reviews5 followers
February 12, 2016
I got this book off the free shelf of large print books at work (our company, in part, does large print publishing, so they offer some of the books free to employees). I have rarely given any book 1 star, so this is a first for me.

My first mistake was finishing this book. It was laughably bad, as was most of the plotting. The writing wasn't very good and it seems like the author needed to manufacture reason after reason for the main 'couple' not to get together. I mean, I get it on some levels, you can't have the main couple get together too early because where's the fun in actually hearing about how their lives are going after they get together (insert sarcastic eyeroll here--though rolling my eyes was pretty much all I did throughout the entire book). So let's pile on tragedy after tragedy (all while telling and not showing), so that when they do get together it will be all the more satisfying (not). Because they're apart for most of the book, it's hard to root for them as a couple because there's no real basis for their attraction except that he smells good and is there for her during one out of every sixth tragedy that befalls her.

Not one character in this novel doesn't have at least one horrendous thing happen to them in the past or present. Seriously, you can generate sympathy for characters without having each one have a tragic accident in childhood, have their family murdered, or be beaten up by an alcoholic drug addict.

I could go on and on, but suffice to say, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. What a colossal waste of time. Well I should amend that--I did get some pleasure out of making fun of how bad this book was. *sigh*
Profile Image for Pat.
1,251 reviews31 followers
October 1, 2012

This historical fiction novel is set in the first days of WWII. Danielle
Bretancourt Von Hoffman is traveling from New York to England with her
husband Max. She is pregnant with their second child. Max is a German by
descent, and his family is living in Poland. Danielle is a perfumer with the
gift of perfect "scent". Her family has produced perfumes for hundreds of
years; she is trying to carry on the tradition. Max's family is known for
exquisite crystal, and has a factory in Poland. Jon Newell-Gray is also
traveling on the ship. He is Vice President and heir to Newell -Gray
Shipping. This voyage is taking place on one of his family's ships. Mr.
Newell-Gray and the Von Hoffmans have a momentous encounter.

The one word I would use to describe this sweeping story is passion. Not
romantic passion, although there is a wonderful love story that develops,
but a woman's passion for her family, heritage, and country. Danielle
encounters frightening and heartbreaking obstacles; her passion is tested in
countless ways. In war torn Poland, while working for British intelligence,
she puts herself and unborn child in serious danger to try and find family
members. This is a story of a very strong talented woman, who may fall,
but refuses to fail. She is tireless in her efforts to keep her family safe,
and expand her perfume heritage.

I enjoy reading about WWII, and its amazing stories of courage, and loyalty.
I feel this is an excellent one. I recommend it highly. I received a copy
of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Michelle.
Author 12 books1,387 followers
August 2, 2014
I had the honor of receiving an early copy of Scent of Triumph. I'd already heard great things about the novel and it did not disappoint. This is a sweeping, epic story of a fearless, headstrong woman you will root for from the first page to the last. Set against the backdrop of WWII, the story spans multiple continents as the heroine Danielle moves from ocean liner to Paris, and on through London and Poland and all the way to working class Los Angeles. The plot lines, the characters, and the issues are complex and deftly handled and the ending was perfect. Through it all the author weaves in information about the high-end fragrance trade. I was carried away by Danielle's story and her struggles. I predict this will be a huge hit.
Profile Image for Kend.
1,249 reviews68 followers
January 23, 2015

     Once in a while, I’m lucky enough to receive a book that surprises me, that blows me out of the water and drives crazy with a love closer to addiction than mere enjoyment.  This is not that book.  I am indeed grateful to have received a copy through a Goodreads giveaway, but not nearly so grateful as I would have been, if the book had been a smidgen less … overdone.

     [ for more of my insanely snarky reviews, visit my Tumblog ]

     In large part, whether you enjoy a book or not comes down to personal taste, and my tastes are quite distant from those of Moran, or indeed, of Danielle Bretancourt.  While she stands at a worktable and handles her essential oils, she is at her best—musing on the origins and histories of various scents, their effects on human perception, and so forth.  But for the vast majority of the book, she is cast not as a perfumer but as an indomitable victim, the spy, and the love addict.  All of these figures will be familiar to the average reader of romance novels, but they’re not what I was hoping for—and expecting, given some of the book’s earlier reviews, and its marketing blurb, which describes Danielle’s life as “[s]et between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities.”  Danielle spends the vast majority of the book—the vast majority—living in luxury, inexplicably rescued from all of her “gritty realities” by the interventions of her monied social connections.

     This is 2015.  I think we can safely acknowledge that the safety nets that the wealthy enjoy are correspondingly more powerful than those with which the poor must make do.  An impoverished aristocrat like Danielle, whose friends remain fabulously wealthy and famous, is far more likely to rise back to financial security than a woman who has always been poor, and whose social circle is also made up of the non-elite (see this article, and this one, and this one).  This, too, is privilege.  Many aspects of life have shifted since WWII, both in America and abroad, but the statistics remain mostly the same.  Danielle’s relative intergenerational mobility (compared to her parents’ generation) is exactly zero.  I simply cannot justify saying her situation bears any resemblance to the reality of an occasionally single mother and immigrant during the war.

     There are many ways in which this book falls short in terms of form, too—the book is rife with comma splices and stacked adjectivals.  (The editor and college instructor in me cringes each and every time.)  If Moran has a motto, it must be to let no noun go without one or two or three descriptors.  The problem with this sort of construct is twofold: (1) each sentence becomes bloated with unnecessary material, diffusing its emotive impact and slowing momentum to a crawl, and (2) over time, with so many adjectivals at play, Moran begins to repeat herself.  Again.  And again.  I can’t tell you how many times Moran uses the same exact descriptions for dashing captain Jonathan Newell-Grey, but you can be sure he must positively bathe in patchouli oil for her to mention it so often—and apparently, he’s so “virile” that she feels compelled to mention it every time he walks into a room.  Hanging around someone so pungent would give me a headache.  Lastly (in terms of form), I must cast a skeptical eye across the Frenchisms that Moran scatters throughout her book.  I’ve read enough French literature—most of it “borrowed” from my French friend M.—to know the difference between a French word thrown in to create a pretentious sort of atmosphere, and the kinds of French expressions that a Frenchwoman might actually use.

    (I’m sure some of these failings could be addressed through the age-old “write what you know” conversation, but then again, I do rather like a nice romp through Middle Earth, and Tolkien—well, actually, wait.  Tolkien appropriated most of his fantastical cultures from the ancient Norse and Germanic sagas.  Whoops.  So even he wrote what he knew.)

     In summary, I found myself laughing and grinding my teeth at various points throughout A Scent of Triumph.  Small historical incongruences bother me less than mis-marketing; this book would be far better serviced if described as an “era-inspired fairy tale” than a serious novel about life during WWII.  And be aware: Moran spends the vast majority of the book in Los Angeles, and in Hollywood.  A few chapters from other points-of-view than Danielle’s are thrown in somewhat haphazardly to add a sort of historical veneer and to convey the horrors of occupation, but they are brief, disjointed, and in many ways feel superfluous.  It’s clear that Moran’s interest lies in boutique shops and posh American department stores, like Neiman Marcus.  If you’re looking for a novel that takes a realistic stab at the emotional stakes of wartime immigration, persecution, and love, then this is (resoundingly) not it.



286 reviews
February 1, 2013
Wow! I came across Scent of Triumph through the Goodreads grapevine. I enjoy historical fiction and have recently been branching out into more types, but I will admit that I wasn't too keen about a book set during WWII. However, the premise of the book was intriguing, given the way scents and smells play a large role in the story and how they affect our memories. And I will admit, the 99-cent sale caught my eye so I thought I would give it a go. I was not prepared to be as blown away by the story as I was. Jan Moran's ability to weave scents and smells into the fabric of the story is masterful! I was afraid that it would seem stilted or forced, but there is nothing more natural -- I even began to feel like I could smell some of the scents myself. I don't know about the rest of you, but there are definitely smells that instantly take me back to memories from my childhood or even just a few years ago. I have often thought that much we observe with our senses really can shape and tie into our memories.

But back to the story... All of this praise is not to say there weren't a couple of things that bothered me. One, there were a few spelling/grammatical errors that I hope will be caught and corrected in a later edition. When I find those kinds of errors, I normally want to deduct a star from my rating on that principle alone. However, Moran's overall brilliant writing style won me over and given that I didn't want to put the book down, I decided that I probably ought to be a bit more forgiving. Related to the story, I did find myself frustrated with Danielle's actions and reactions, at times, but ultimately I reminded myself that I have never been in any situation remotely like hers, so I shouldn't be so judgmental of how she opted to deal with certain events in her life or not see things that I felt should be obvious. How often are we all oblivious to what is going on in our own lives?!

Truly, I was captivated from the first page. I wanted to stay up late reading it two nights in a row, but had to restrain myself and ultimately decided to finish it before getting to work this morning. (I guess it's a good thing I work from home and to some extent can set my own hours!) I was surprised to find that I enjoy reading a story set in the WWII era, and though there is more to the story than the war and it is not the focus, it certainly plays an important part in the tale.

WHO SHOULD READ Scent of Triumph: General historical fiction lovers, anyone for whom scents and smells play a strong role in their life and memories, and anyone who simply enjoys a powerful story of a woman struggling to overcome adversity and regain her life.

Additional note: There is some sex in the story, but it is by no means graphic. However, in fairness to those who may not want to read about it, I felt that a mention should be made.
Author 7 books129 followers
March 14, 2013
Absolutely heartbreakingly amazing. I've never read a book before that had me crying so much or squealing in joy or sighing with relief. What a wonderful piece of literature!

Scent of Triumph focuses mainly on the story of a French woman named Danielle Bretancourt, who finds herself in the midst of World War II and its terrifying atrocities. While on her way back to France, her cruise ship is attacked by a German U-boat, and the lives of several passengers are lost. Danielle travels with her husband Max and a navy soldier named Jon, who has eyes for the beautiful, spunky Danielle.

As a historian, I love reading anything that has to do with history, whether fiction or nonfiction. And I can tell you that this book is a very accurate, very moving description of how hard it had been to experience the events of the 1940s. Sometimes when we hear of death, it's a very distant concept that none of us can seem to grasp on the personal level. But in Scent of Triumph, death does not spare the innocent. The list is endless. But that's how war is! It rips the bonds of love to shreds and wears down your strength until you succumb.

But Danielle Bretancourt refuses to do so. She perserveres and tries to start a new life in America - the country full of hope, opportunity, and a future for all who strive for one. Amidst all this death and suffering, Danielle struggles to stay true to who she is. She cares for her mother, niece, and daughter. She starts her own business and continues the traditions of her family without fear of persecution.

This is a wonderful story about facing your fears and plucking up the courage to take the risk. Take that next step forward and make something of yourself. Live your life in memory of those who were lost. Don't give up. Fight on. That is what this novel is about.

Give this one a good, hard read my friends. You will not regret it.
Profile Image for Leah.
1,052 reviews58 followers
April 8, 2015
Things seem to just fall in place for Danielle, and the convenient nature of it all had me rolling my eyes. Her perfume really takes off when a gossip columnist gets a whiff. Husband #2 had been depicted as a playboy the ENTIRE novel, even mentioning the hundreds of women he's been with...until Danielle is made a widow. Then his entire persona changes because it's ~tru luv~ on his part. However, all throughout the novel, Scent of Triumph had been setting up Danielle with Husband #3 so I knew it was only a matter of time until they finally got together. By the time they admit their feelings for each other, they're both married. WHAT TO DO. Fear not, reader! Remember those pesky Nazis who want to stop at nothing to kill Danielle? Husband #2 jumps in front of one, taking the bullet and neatly ending his life. Husband #3's wife? Turns out the baby she's carrying isn't his! And she wants to marry the baby's father! And his wife just agreed to a divorce! Nicky is tracked down after someone in an orphanage just so happens to remember his eyes and, as luck would have it, Danielle spots Nicky on a ship - while on the dock (she must have amazing eyesight since the ship was already heading out to sea.) The nice captain even turned the boat around. See what I mean? There was far too much of this throughout the novel.

For the full review and more, head over to The Pretty Good Gatsby!
Profile Image for Rachelle Ayala.
Author 242 books1,221 followers
November 3, 2014
I didn't want this book to end. Danielle is a heroic woman who triumphs over grief, loss and tragedy. She always had a sense of honor and the will to do the right thing even when circumstances were against her.

This book could have been 1/3rd longer and I would have loved to savor and linger in it. The author's skill in using the five senses immerse the reader into the story. Danielle is passionate about her family and her work. I learned a lot about the perfume business and all of the details added to the atmosphere of the story. I was transported with Danielle from war torn Europe to the glory days of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. All through her tumultuous life, she never gives up hope of seeing her beloved son. And then, there is the love of her life, a man whose timing is never quite right, but redeems himself at the end when he boldly pursues and hangs onto her. An epic love story with a bold and passionate heroine. Bravo!

I'm so glad this book has been revised and reissued by St. Martin's Press. Check out the new edition with the gorgeous new cover with coral and lavender roses! It is available for pre-order for release March 2015.
Profile Image for Marti.
879 reviews3 followers
May 26, 2013
What a wonderful book to have read over the Thanksgiving weekend! I almost can't believe that this was a free download because it was just that good. It spanned the World War II years and the settings stretched from Poland to England (London) to Los Angeles, California. The main character, Danielle, while flawed in some ways, was determined, resourceful, intelligent, fiercely loyal, and courageous. Her main love interest, Jon, had many of those same traits, which made their relationship star-crossed in some ways but also interesting. Many of the secondary characters, especially Jon's sister Abigail, were richly interesting as well. I strongly recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in. I truly love a book in which I feel like I know and like the characters right from the start and can't help but root for their ultimate success and happiness as the book progresses. This book delivered on those ramifications in a very big way. Check this book out. I seriously doubt that you'll be disappointed.
Profile Image for Clive Eaton.
Author 1 book187 followers
January 3, 2013
A terrific story based in WW2 with a central character having an unusual gift. Well worth a read.
Profile Image for Silvia Devitofrancesco.
Author 17 books124 followers
January 27, 2018
Recensione presente nel blog www.ragazzainrosso.wordpress.com
È il 1939, la giovane esperta di profumi Danielle Bretancourt di sangue ebreo, dopo aver affidato il figlioletto alla suocera, lascia assieme al marito la Polonia e parte a bordo di una nave. Purtroppo a seguito di un bombardamento, la nace fa naufragio e la donna si ritrova in Inghilterra dove verrà aiutata dalla famiglia dell’aitante capitano Jonathan Newell-Grey. Gli anni passano, la guerra miete le sue vittime, Danielle non è ancora riuscita a ritrovare suo figlio e suo marito è stato ucciso. Costretta a trasferirsi in America, proverà a ricostruirsi una vita sfruttando proprio il suo talento per i profumi. Eppure le sorprese non sono ancora finite. Molto altro è destinato a sconvolgere la vita di Danielle.

“E finalmente capì cosa mancava. Un nucleo forte, un caldo aroma ambrato che avrebbe creato una profonda connessione con l’anima. L’amore.”

Il tema della guerra viene in queste pagine interpretato attraverso gli occhi dei più deboli, donne e bambini, costretti a subire dolore e perdite.

Danielle dimostra sin da subito di essere una donna decisa a non arrendersi. Lotta senza paura, o meglio cercando di neutralizzare la paura, per ciò che ama. La sua è una storia d’amore universale: amore verso i familiari, verso il marito e soprattutto verso il figlioletto che nonostante il passare del tempo, continua a credere vivo. La ricerca disperata diviene la sua vita. È la luce che le dona la voglia di sopravvivere, di non lasciarsi sopraffare e di lottare sempre sino all’ultimo. Non mancano momenti intrisi di tenerezza amorosa, contaminati dalla precarietà dei sentimenti nei giorni difficili della guerra.

L’autrice si serve di una prosa semplice e a effetto. Non riempie le pagine di descrizioni, lascia che sia la narrazione a sortire il suo effetto e a carpire l’attenzione del lettore che non può fare a meno di immedesimarsi nella vicenda e di provare empatia nei confronti di questa madre disperata.

Un romanzo forte, deciso e immensamente dolce. Una lettura che apre un importante spaccato su quello che è stato e che mai dovrà essere dimenticato.
198 reviews
October 31, 2020
I did finish the book, thinking that it would redeem itself. It didn't! It was very repetitious and was a woman's fantasy. Even though Danielle suffered and worked extremely hard for her family, things just came to easy. I wish there had been more inclusion of Max and what he went through to find Nicky and more from Nicky himself explaining the hardships. From looking at the reviews, it shows that you like historical romances or you don't. I much prefer historical fiction with the romance on the side if it has to be, not the main focus of the book.
Profile Image for Brenda.
1,493 reviews17 followers
August 22, 2017
The strength shown by the characters in this book really amazed me. The author's writing style put the reader right next to Danielle and her incredible life. The author did well with the historical facts that she included in this book. I will be seeking out this author again in the future.
Profile Image for Asheley T..
1,334 reviews118 followers
June 16, 2015
Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran is the story of Danielle Bretancourt as she moves from obstacle to obstacle in an effort to keep her family together, to be a successful woman, and to find love. I've been sitting on this review for quite a while, trying to string together my thoughts. I read this book on Mother's Day - my family gave me a whole day of uninterrupted reading time and this is what I chose to read. I was swept away by the story, completely caught up in the time and the place and in the tasks main character Danielle Bretancourt was trying to complete.

The book begins with a WHOA action-packed scene that launches the story into 1939 Europe, into a time of war. My heart was beating so fast during this opening scene! Danielle arrives home from America to find that her mother-in-law and son have been forced to flee the family estate due to the threat of enemy forces. Danielle and her husband go through a period of searching for them, to no avail, and after separating to (sort-of) broaden the search, Danielle finds herself moving around the country in order to keep herself safe.

This part of the plot was exciting and quite a page-turner. The plot goes on and things progress until Danielle has moved a few times, her husband is no longer with her due to the horrors of war, and she is making the choice to move to America to flee wartorn Europe - still without her child.

Here is where the book feels like it takes on a different tone, almost like a different book entirely. In America, Danielle finds a completely new set of challenges. She has to blend in, first of all, because she is not American: her accent, the way she dresses, etc. Plus she is faced with having to provide financially for her small family without the help of a husband. Danielle does the only respectable thing she knows to do in order to find work: European fashion and perfumery.

Even though they are living in pretty shabby housing because of having to start completely over, Danielle's new career in fashion affords her the opportunities to attend some swanky parties and creep up the social ladder - this, to me, makes for some exciting scenes in this segment of the book. Glamour, which I love! Danielle does find romance, more than once actually, and she ends up doing pretty well for herself and her family.

I absolutely LOVE reading about this time in history.

And I love Danielle. She is feminine and loves nice, lovely things, which I loved. She doesn't apologize for this, and good for her. She is also brave and strong and resilient while at the same time, I feel like she is pretty honest about being tired and unsure if she will be able to manage all that she has going on. And Danielle has a ton of things going on. She does things while in Europe - mostly to find her son - that are almost unimaginable and she survives! Then, when in America, she literally begins from almost nothing as she makes a name for herself in the perfume and fashion industries. She becomes a true success story, all while managing the still-ongoing search for her child and still seeking out love, love, true love.

Okay, so Danielle's romantic life: she goes through several husbands when it is clear to me that there is only one of these men that she really, truly loves. She does give reasons for her romantic relationships - a misunderstanding here, a missed opportunity there, etc - but it was almost torturous to read these unions when I knew which one she really loved and that the feeling was mutual.

Oh, Danielle.

But the biggest thing about this story: it felt like a sweeping historical fiction. What I mean by this is that it felt huge, but I think this is because of the suspension of belief required, not because of the size because it isn't really all that long. Danielle's life always seemed to fall into place even through everything that happened around her - everything always resolved so neatly, it seemed. This is totally fine with me; this made this book fun to read and gave way to the adventurous feel of it. I do think that sometimes other readers have this complaint, about the neat resolutions and some suspension required, but as for myself: I enjoyed this. I read the entire book fairly quickly and found the book easy to visualize and follow.

Scent of Triumph is a fun story. Danielle is a fun character. She goes through all sorts of things: traumatic things and dangerous things and adventurous things and joyful things. She takes her life and makes something of it. She takes care of her family. She is resilient and strong and honest, and I like that. I also liked the way that it ended (even though I wouldn't have minded a little bit more after that last scene). I recommend Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran for fans of historical fiction and fans of strong women.
Profile Image for Anne Whiting.
84 reviews4 followers
October 25, 2020
What a heart wrencher! The story is told from the beginning and during the second world war and tells of Danielle's struggle and search for her poor son Nicky after the occupation of Poland by the Nazis and the loss of Max. We live her nightmare with her as she is pursued by the evil Heinrich to such horrendous lengths.

Danielle has a tremendous responsibilty after finally arriving in the US and has to make enough money to support her dependant family. She is on her own and I was so moved as she struggled to start her own business eventually making a fantastic success of her perfume and couture business.

The icing on the cake was her relationship with Jon. I just kept hoping that things would work out for Danielle as she had been through so much.

Thank you Jan for another brilliant book.
Profile Image for Sheree.
572 reviews106 followers
April 15, 2015
The story opens as England declares itself at war with Germany. The WWII setting is what initially appealed to me, England, France, Poland but Scent of Triumph is actually more sweeping family drama and one woman's determination to provide and care for her remaining family after facing great tragedy.

Danielle is a fiercely determined, clever, hard-working, resilient woman and I admired that about her but I didn't always feel an emotional connection with her. I'm not sure how to explain it, it might be that I wasn't quite so enamored once Danielle was living in Los Angeles. Despite tragic losses she seemed so cool and removed and focused, I actually felt the distance but when Danielle was immersed in creating a perfume she came alive to me.

I thought parts of the story were a little predictable and I'll also be honest and say I found the ending disingenuous. Despite these points there was much to love.

I loved Danielle's mother-in-law Sophia and her small but significant, and lasting part, her courage really touched me. I liked Jon, and Jon and Danielle together, it was so frustratingly obvious they were meant for each other and I wanted to shake both of them for the misunderstandings.

I loved the artistry, history and tradition of perfumery, I felt Danielle's love for the creative process, the trial and error composition and design of a new perfume. I loved Moran's descriptions of the Bretancourt family perfumery gardens in Grasse, so beautiful I want to visit. I loved how Moran's writing appealed to my senses, I could smell what she was describing, my mouth actually watered at the "sweet, buttery scent of the boulangerie in Grasse where they bought croissants ..." and the perfume aspect gave the book a very sensual feel.

"She waved blotter strips of paper under her nose, then made notes in her journal. Too much bergamot in this one, too tart; no depth in this one; bring forward the orange blossom in another."

"She inhaled again, going farther, detecting the bouquet of jasmine and rose, rich and silky, entwined with a spicy note of carnation, adding verve and vitality, robust brilliance. It needs a splash of complexity here, a sprig of basil there, an accent of clove."

Overall, Scent of Triumph was a little different from what I was expecting but a lovely, entertaining read.

Cover: cover fairy worked on this one ... it's beautiful!
Profile Image for Tripfiction.
1,647 reviews197 followers
July 31, 2015
Romance novel set in France, California and Poland (“love is seldom what you expect”)

“Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume”

An epic romance novel set in the early years of World War II. It is an expansive book that evolves from war torn France and Poland, across to California.

Danielle Bretancourt, a trained perfumer, is a heroine carved from the Angelina Jolie mold, she is gorgeous, resourceful, capable, creative and hugely talented. But nevertheless has her fair share of trauma along the way. At the beginning she is married to Max, she’s pregnant and they have left their son Nicky with Grandmother Sofia, in Poland – this country, of course, soon comes under siege and the two have to flee for their lives, especially as they have Jewish heritage.

One of the themes of the book is Danielle’s search for her son. Her life, whilst she searches, take her from Grasse to London and over to the West Coast of America where she eventually settles. From acute poverty, where she lives with her own mother Marie and her tiny daughter, she sets about creating her own perfumes and moves into fashion. Of course there is romance along the way, but it is coupled with adventure, trauma and poignant moments of reflection.

Each chapter opens with Danielle Bretancourt’s thoughts on perfume and smell, and her musings on the nature of the ingredients. The Moroccan rose is different to Bulgaria’s damascene rose, or that it takes 800,000 rose blossoms to make 1 Kilo of absolute concentrate. Jasmine, after whom Danielle’s little daughter is named, is the empress of the perfume palette.

It is the blend of stories and themes that make this such an enjoyable read, full of life’s adventures and romance. It is fabulous to learn, via fiction, little insights into the art of perfumery. And I leave you with words from the book: ”A perfume is a symphony, the sum of the parts, where the whole is far greater than the individual“…

This review first appeared on our blog and also features an interview with author Jan Moran: http://www.tripfiction.com/romance-no...
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