BOOKS FICTION After Breathless by Jennifer Potter, Bloomsbury pounds 14.99.

BOOKS FICTION After Breathless by Jennifer Potter, Bloomsbury pounds 14.99.

This is a romantic novel, as soft and steamy with the heady glamour of first, impure love as any subtitled French movie (see its luscious cover, above). But it is not a Romantic Novel; in fact, a sure mark of its author's skill is that she produces a young girl's narrative that is convincingly emotional and yet pleasingly astringent and intelligent, without recourse to style tricks. Potter advances unabashed into the minefield of a trite scenario (young English student in Bordeaux discovers mad, bad, reckless love with Belmondo-lookalike who obviously spells trouble), and carries it off with elegance and lots of good dirty sex. An alluring film noir tinge of squalor and criminality echoes through the story: like those movies you remember with a pang, this is a novel to make you keep faith with how you used to feel. Catherine Storey

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