Quick note, this is book #1 in the “Passport to Romance” series. Too bad I don't have any of the others!
Since it's probably been a whole book since the gals left the country, they head off to Switzerland. Almost as soon as they land, they meet the handsome Franz Haussman who Bess develops a crush on and who offers to take them to their hotel. They also meet some random Australian named Mick. He seems annoyed that they already met another guy and offers to show them around town.
Mick takes them to a watch museum and a few other sites in town. Nancy notices Franz's picture on the cover of the newspaper. It turns out that he's the son of the country's most famous watch company owner and incredibly rich. The picture shows this guy Yves punching him in the face. Mick acts all jealous of the guy and takes them on an even longer tour. When Nancy points out that he seems to know a whole lot about the city given that he's supposedly only been there for a few days, he keeps changing the subject before finally saying that he read up on the area because he always wanted to see it.
Franz invited them to meet him at some club, and they bring along Mick for the ride. It turns out that Franz has a girlfriend named Monique. Bess is naturally disappointed, but before she can say much, some random guy rushes up, threatens Franz, and then disappears into the crowd. Franz just laughs it off and gives them a tour. While dancing with Mick, Nancy hears a commotion. Some guy raced up, punched Franz in the face, and then ran away.
Monique completely breaks down while Mick takes Franz to the bathroom to clean him up. I should point out here that Franz thinks he recognizes Mick from somewhere and Mick, once again, keeps changing the subject. Monique is apparently the daughter of a wealthy chocolate manufacturer. Her parents and Franz's parents keep pushing them to get married but neither feels ready for a serious commitment.
Erich, Franz's cousin, then rushes into the club. He gets pissed off that his brother went out on his own and claims that he isn't doing as much work for the company as he should. It's pretty much as awkward as you might think given that this happens in the middle of a massive dance club. The girls and Mick go back to their hotel with Nancy feeling suspicious about everything that happened that night.
Franz sends a note to the hotel that asks them to meet him at his family's summer home for the day and bring Mick. He even sends them a limousine, and as it turns out, his little summer home is a huge ass mansion. Nancy meets his uncle, Erich's father, who seems less than pleased at having a bunch of American rag a muffins around. They then go swimming, a boat comes out of nowhere, and it almost crashes into Nancy and Franz.
Though Franz tries to pretend it wasn't anything serious, Nancy has her doubts. They hang out a little more before making plans to meet up at a concert later that night. Nancy's little group decides to check out a nearby castle before the show, but Mick gets weird, makes up an excuse not to go to the concert, and takes off. Things get even weirder during the concert.
Nancy notices Franz reading a piece of paper that says to give up the truck route or else. He makes up an excuse to leave, and she goes with him after noticing the way Erich starts eyeing up Monique. Franz finally confesses to her that he has a gambling problem. This random guy named Bart offered him a loan to pay off his debts but then kept coming back for money. Bart now wants him to give him the date and time of a massive gold delivery to the watch factory. He put the note in Franz's pocket as a way to remind him that he can get to him anywhere. Since it's been like three days since Nancy solved a mystery, she agrees to help.
Cut to the next day. They make plans to meet Monique and Franz once again. Bess suddenly decides that she must buy a cuckoo clock to take home. Nancy is annoyed because Franz is late and because George keeps telling Bess she doesn't need a clock and can't afford one. Nancy then notices a suspicious looking man standing nearby who she realizes is the illusive Yves.
After following him around, they see him paying way too much attention to the Haussman workshop and store. Nancy approaches him under the guise of having seen him in the paper. Yves acts super rude, goes on and on about how the watches his family makes are so much better, and then pretty much takes off. When Franz never shows up, they hook up with Mick and take in some more sites.
They get back to the hotel to find Erich waiting for them. Franz skipped all of his meetings and was probably kidnapped. The whole group goes to his apartment and finds that he was planning on taking a trip to some place called Zermatt. The girls worry that they don't have enough money in their budget to visit, but Eric promises to make arrangements that are more affordable and claims they can take a train into the city.
The only unusual thing that happens on the train is that all five wind up stuck in one tiny car/room together. Nancy goes to get some fresh air and almost winds up going over the side of the mountain when someone pushes her from behind. Though she suspects that Mick might have something to do with the case, it doesn't stop her from making out with him, nor does the fact that poor Ned is waiting for her back home.
When they get to Zermatt, they decide to check out the Matterhorn instead of, you know, working on the case they went there to solve. Monique randomly shows up and announces that she took Franz on the trip to clear his mind and get him away from all his problems. They had a huge fight though that led to him taking off. She also admits that the fight was over Bart.
See, Bart is a private investigator when he's not blackmailing rich people. Her parents hired him to see if Franz was hiding any big secrets. They spotted him on their train and had a big fight over him. Franz believes that her parents are behind the blackmailing and want to keep him away from her. Franz then shows up in person to apologize and take the blame for the fight. Before he can do too much though. They see a massive rock rolling down the hill straight towards them.
Rich people apparently don't take stuff like this as seriously as us normal peeps do because after Nancy saves him and Monique, Franz decides they should all go skiing. Since his uncle planned some huge party that night, he gets them on plane tickets to get back in time. The party goes fine except for two things. When Mick meets Monique's parents and they think he looks familiar, he snaps at them and runs away to help Franz get some stuff from the loading dock. They then hear a scream as Franz falls into the lake. While George and Erich jump into the water to save him, Mick is nowhere to be seen.
Nancy thinks this is the perfect time to sneak into Monique's house and go through the office that Bart apparently keeps there. Not only do they not find anything, but they almost get caught when Bart shows up with Mick. While hiding, they find out that Mick is the son of a diplomat, that he knows about the gold delivery, and that he wants Bart to cut him in on the action or he'll go to the authorities. When the girls finally get out of the house, a dark shadow comes out of nowhere and grabs Bess.
It turns out that the shadowy figure is just Mick. He tells them that he lied to Bart because he wanted to trap him or at least find out more info. George just glares at him, while Bess looks at him like a puppy dog because he's way too cute to be a liar. How did she not get knocked up at fourteen? It also turns out that Mick's father was the Australian ambassador to Switzerland for a number of years, which is why he looks familiar to everyone. Nancy still doesn't know whether to believe him so she decides to take a trip to see Yves.
Posing as a journalist, she asks him a ton of questions but gets nothing out of him until he reveals that he and Franz are actually partners. She then goes to see Franz who admits that it's true. He and Yves went into business together to increase their profits. They go through his uncle's office and find a lot of incriminating evidence. His uncle actually hired Bart to set him up so that he could take over ownership of the company. They also find notes between the two that prove the uncle gave Bart all the info needed to rob the gold truck.
Nancy convinces Franz that she knows how to clear his name. He agrees to work with Bart to hijack the truck. The two men steal the gold, the cops show up, and his uncle jumps out of the police car to claim his nephew double crossed their family company. Nancy and the girls then climb out of the back of the truck and tell the cops to arrest the uncle. The truck was empty of gold because Franz changed the route.
Nancy then tells the police that since they got a tip off about the theft that could only come from someone who knew the old route, it must have been the uncle or Erich. The uncle refuses to speak, but Erich breaks down and confesses everything. It turns out he did it because he's in love with Monique. Well, duh. Mick and the new Australian ambassador then show up with Bart in handcuffs in the backseat of their own car. They worked with the gals and went after Bart when he ran.
After some chit chat, Franz makes a big announcement. Even though neither of them was ready to settle down like five minutes ago, they're now engaged. Nancy and the gals are heading off to Rome for the next stage of their trip. Monique wants to go along but Franz points out that they need to plan their wedding like right now, so she tells them to call her friend Claudia. Mick tells Nancy that he's in like/lust with her, but she tells him that she has too many “commitments” back home to start a new relationship. Wow, nice way to talk about your long time boyfriend! Mick agrees, gives her a goodbye kiss to remember him by, and she wonders what adventures are ahead in Italy. Probably a dead body...
*Nancy acts all irritated at the beginning of the book because Ned stayed home to work a summer job instead of going to Switzerland with her. Yes, because she never ever blows Ned off for work that she doesn't even get paid to do.
*BTW, Ned's summer job is working for an insurance company. I brought it up before that I didn't remember him ever doing insurance work, so I guess I was wrong!
*When they get to their hotel and have to speak French, Bess does it. Nancy flips out because Bess says, “we want to check in,” and gets all panicky about it. But then the receptionist understands what she's trying to say and gives them the keys to their room. I have no clue what's going on in that scene. Wouldn't you tell the front desk worker that you want to check in when you first get there??
*Nancy momentarily feels guilty for dancing with Mick because she isn't sure she should have such a good time with someone who isn't her boyfriend. Um, no, you definitely shouldn't.
*I totally want to go to this club! There is one big dance floor and then smaller rooms on the second floor with different themes. One has a 60s theme with psychedelic paint on the walls, 60s rock and roll playing, and bean bag chairs everywhere. Plus! It has a full restaurant.
*Nancy silently thanks her father for never pushing her to marry Ned. Well, he probably knows that she cheats on her boyfriend every time she steps out of town!
*Mick is one smooth talker. When he goes to kiss Nancy, she stops him and tells him that she has a boyfriend back home. He poo poos her and says that they aren't home before laying one on her. She thinks he's romantic or something, but I think he's a jerk who probably goes around Europe macking on every women he meets.
*Oh man, you have to love Nancy. She starts getting worried about Mick and says that it's not because she's worried about how they feel because they can work out their feelings later. It's because he's a valid suspect. I love that she thinks he's involved and yet is still willing to date him!