Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Lone Star by Paullina Simons - #review

Falling in love was the easy part . . .

Chloe and her three best friends are weeks away from finishing high school and beginning their new grown-up lives apart from one another. They have been friends since they were kids, their families and lives intertwined, but this is their last summer together. They plan a magical trip to sun-drenched Barcelona, with its possibility of adventure and passion. But first, Chloe has an old family promise to keep, and the four of them must detour through historic Eastern Europe.

In this fledgling post-Communist world, Chloe meets a mysterious American vagabond named Johnny, who carries a guitar, an easy smile, and a lifetime of secrets. From Treblinka to Trieste, from Carnikava to Krakow, the unlikely band of friends and mismatched lovers traverses the Old World on a train ride that becomes a treacherous journey into Europe’s and Johnny’s dark pasts—a journey that jeopardizes Chloe’s plans and all she ever thought she wanted.

The ties that bind Chloe to her friends and her future are about to be put to the ultimate test. Whether or not they reach Barcelona . . . their lives will never be the same again.

A sweeping, beautiful tale of old friendships and new love that mesmerizes and enchants, Lone Star will linger long in the memory even after the final page has been turned.



I'm actually rather impressed that Chloe and her friends made it to Europe at all!  Most young folks from as far back in the woods as they lived don't make it out of their county of birth, let alone travel to a different country!

Chloe and Hannah have always wanted to go to Barcelona.  They plan to go the summer after they graduate, but have no money.  Then their boyfriends find out and want to go with them.  They also do not have money.  And this is all before any of the parents know what they intend to do.  When Chloe does broach the subject to her parents, they object on several grounds:  the money would be better spent in her college fund, she's too young,  there would be boys going, etc.

The pace definitely picks up once they get to Europe.  But, on the way to Barcelona, they go by way of Latvia and Poland.  That's right, a 'slight' detour.  But that's because Chloe's grandmother footed the bill for their travel if they would go to meet the part of her family that still lived in the 'old country'.

I don't understand what would have possessed them to leave their money and passports on that bus, when they went to see Treblinka.  I'd get leaving the luggage, especially with as far as they'd have to walk, but I don't go to the washroom at the restaurant leaving my wallet on the table, let alone leave it in a vehicle in a foreign country, while I go off traipsing in the woods.

What would have happened to the two couples had they stayed in Maine over the summer?  In Europe, all four of them have 'revelations' that seriously mess with their already mixed up teenage-ness.

At first, I wondered why the title was Lone Star, as it refers to Johnny, their tour guide and mysterious American.  He is introduced relatively late in the book and is not really a major character.  It becomes apparent, however, that this force of nature takes what the foursome knew about their lives and turns it on end.  Thanks to the appearance of the titular "Lone Star" life on this rock changed forever.

The real jewel in Lone Star, in my opinion, is how the story turns out.  Multiple things happen that I never foresaw - some sad, some wistful, and at least one big happy.  I liked reading about places I don't often come across in literature (Latvia, mostly, but Poland as well).  As a child of the 1960s, I still think 'Soviet Union' sometimes instead of the member countries that they have always been.  Turns out good and bad things happen, no matter where you live and read.

Bottom line - would I read more from this author?  Yes!



Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman. She was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my objective review.  This post contains affiliate links.)


  1. I wish I'd have done more traveling before I settled down to my "adult" life. It is such a life-changing experience.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    1. I hear you, Heather. And now, when I am still a comfortable distance from an empty nest, I can dream of the day when that empty nest comes and gives me a chance to do the things I set aside to raise my family. But I wouldn't trade a minute of the past 19 years for anything.

  2. I love traveling and have been in the mood for romance books a lot lately. I am going to have to keep an eye for this one now!

    1. I loved the idea, Olivia-Savannah, that there were so many countries represented in this one book!