Book Review: Without a Trace by Danielle Steel

Posted January 5, 2023 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 46 Comments

Without a Trace
One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Danielle Steel
Publication Date January 3, 2023
Published by Random House Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Women
Pages: 240
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel, a powerful story about fighting for a chance at happiness—whatever the cost.

Charles Vincent seems to have it all—a beautiful wife, two successful children, and a well-paying career. Yet happiness remains out of reach. He is trapped in a loveless marriage and his job is simply a paycheck. But his life changes forever one night as he drives along the Normandy coast, heading to their lavish château for the weekend. In one terrifying moment, Charles falls asleep at the wheel and veers off the road, plunging thirty feet down the face of a rocky cliff.

Miraculously, Charles survives. After gathering the courage to climb to safety, he starts to walk—bruised, bloody, and desperate for help. In the dark of night, he happens upon a cabin where he meets the kind and beautiful Aude Saint-Martin. They have an instant connection, and as she nurses him back to health, Charles begins to discover the passion he’s been missing for so many years.

In the aftermath of the crash, Charles has a startling realization: He doesn’t have to go back. He could simply choose to disappear, to walk away from his old life. When his car is discovered, he’ll be presumed dead, washed away at sea. If he stays with Aude, he has a chance at a fuller, happier life that he didn’t know was possible. It all seems too good to resist. But Aude has secrets of her own, and before long their pasts catch up to them, threatening everything they have fought to build.

What would happen if you were given a chance to walk away from everything in your life and start over with a blank slate, and you had a split second to decide? In Without a Trace, Danielle Steel tells an irresistible story of the risks two people are willing to take in exchange for a chance at the life they’ve always wanted.

Without a Trace by Danielle Steel is a fast-moving romantic suspense set in France, about a man who decides to change his life after a near-fatal accident.  

Story Recap: 

Charles Vincent appears to have everything he’s always wanted in life, his two children are grown and off doing their own thing, and while his marriage isn’t perfect, he’s worked hard to keep it together.  His job pays well, which helps his wife maintain the lifestyle she desires, but his job isn’t what he’s always wanted to do.  But, overall he’s content with his life, but he hasn’t felt true happiness in a long time.  

On a trip from his office in Paris, to his château in Normandy, his car swerves off a cliff, and Charles and his car plunge into the ocean, far below the road.  Charles manages to get out of the car and swim to safety and even manages to climb up the cliff and back onto the road, where he walks, in the dark, until he finds a remote cabin.  There he meets the beautiful, Aude Saint-Martin, who takes him in and helps tends to his injuries.  But, when Charles discovers that the police think he’s dead, he thinks about just staying with Aude and living a simpler life.  

My Thoughts: 

I’ve always wondered about people who can just walk away from life, and in Without a Trace, we get to see a man walk away from a lavish lifestyle, his wife, and two grown children.  

The setting is gorgeous, part of the book is set in Paris, some of it is set in Charles’s lavish château in Normandy, and part of it is set in Aud’s small cabin, also in Normandy.  All of these places are well described and made for a bit of escapism.  

The characters were not very likable for the most part.  Although I could sympathize with Charles in wanting to leave his old life, I didn’t like that he actually let his family believe he was dead.  Also, the romantic relationship between Charles and Aud was very rushed and not all that believable to me.  Aud wasn’t very well developed and although she had a rough past, I didn’t understand her rush into a new relationship.   


I recommend Without a Trace to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense. I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own

About Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel has sold 650 million copies of her books internationally, and every one of her books is a bestseller. She is published in 69 countries and 43 languages.

Steel’s latest novel is Nine Lives. Other recent bestsellers include Finding Ashley, The Affair, Neighbors, All that Glitters, Expect a Miracle, Royal, and Daddy’s Girls, all of which have leapt to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, the Wall Street Journal list, and comparable best seller lists around the world.

Steel has written more than 196 books, 168 of which are novels; 18 children’s books, including Pretty Minnie in Hollywood and Pretty Minnie in Paris about her white long-hair teacup Chihuahua; four works of nonfiction, including His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina, A Gift of Hope: Helping the Homeless, and Pure Joy: The Dogs We Love; a book of poetry; and she has written the lyrics for a music album.

She also founded and runs two foundations, one named in honor of her late son, The Nick Traina Foundation, which finances organizations involved in mental illness, child abuse, and suicide prevention. The second foundation was established to assist the homeless. In 2002 Steel was decorated by the French government as an “Officier” of the distinguished Order of Arts and Letters and in 2014 she was decorated as a Chevalier (Knight) of the Order of the Legion d’Honneur in Paris. She lives in Paris and San Francisco and is the mother of nine children.

UK Cover:

I like both covers, but I think the UK cover is more dramatic. I like the guy on the top of the cliff looking down.

Have you read Without a Trace?

46 responses to “Book Review: Without a Trace by Danielle Steel

  1. Great review, Wendy 🙂 the characters certainly don’t sound appealing. One does imagine simply walking away from everything, but not like Charles does letting everyone who matters think he’s dead.

  2. As a reader, I’m not sure I could get over Charles allowing his family to think he was dead. For me, that goes beyond unlikable and straight to unforgivable. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one.

  3. ISHDHJSBDHD THE PREMISE FOR THIS SOUNDS SO SO COOL?? AND ALSO THE FACT THAY ITS SET IN FRANCE?? IS JUST?? it sounds phenomenal basically 😩👌 BUT ALSO. It sucks that the execution was so terrible IM SORRY

  4. I have an ex-sister-in-law who did that. Just picked up and left my brother and her two young sons without a word. I never understood how someone could do that either. I don’t think they still have any contact with her (she did turn up about 200 miles away living a new life.) It’s just mind boggling.

  5. Danielle Steele’s books, in my limited experience, can be really good or “meh.” This one sounds like it is the latter. I like main characters to be people I would want to spend time with. The thing that gives me the creeps is that there is a real life story going on right now in CA where a man drove off a cliff with his family in the car. It is way too soon to assign motives, etc. but one certainly reminds me of the other.

    • That’s so sad. I just read about that this morning. And you’re right about Danielle Steel, sometimes she’s great and sometimes not.

  6. I think I like the UK cover best. I haven’t read anything by Danielle Steele that I can think of–but I might have years ago. This sounds like a good read.

  7. Great review! I’m torn on this one. I’m not sure if it is for me, but then again, I should read more outside my comfort zone.

  8. I think I’d enjoy reading this for the settings but not so much for the character developement or romance. It does seem like it had both good and not so good things but then again you have that for the most part in every novel.

  9. I do enjoy Danielle Steel’s books but this one sounds somewhat disappointing. I don’t like a rushed romance either and I prefer likeable characters. Great review Wendy.

  10. I’ve never read Danielle Steele before. I don’t like rushed love either but this sounds like a good one overall, I like the setting. Great review!