Tag Archives: Laura Florand

Paris Nights: Trust Me by Laura Florand

An American Commando and Parisian pastry chef? Whyever not?

More time spent with some of the world’s finest pastry chefs? Yes, please.

Laura Florand’s frequent theme of learning to be brave in new ways or discovering that you already are? Absolutely!

Trust Me is the third book in Florand’s Paris Nights trilogy, each of which marries up a pastry chef or chocolatier heroine and a covert ops hero, including All for You and Chase Me.  This was the least successful of the three books for me and while I enjoyed the majority of it, some elements of the love story didn’t ring true, or at least were unconvincing to me.

From Amazon: Top Parisian pastry chef Lina Farah is used to fighting for her success. But when a violent attack shatters her security, she needs a new tactic to battle her dragons. Elite operative Jake Adams has never stayed in one place long enough to form a lasting relationship. Lina’s fire and beauty tempt him to give her the hot affair she craves. But her spirit and courage make him long for more. Can he convince a woman seeking forgetfulness to dream of ever after…with him?

I’ve read Trust Me twice now, once when it came out and again now while patiently waiting for author Laura Florand to return from her well-earned kissing book sabbatical. When I started to reread, I recalled that I had found Lina and Jake’s romantic relationship somewhat precipitous, even though that is common in Florand’s books, and was interested to see if that opinion held true. It did. I enjoyed the book for so much of it that I was questioning myself before arriving at an “Oh, ya. I remember now,” conclusion right towards the end there.

Lina, and Chase Me’s heroine Vi, were working in a Michelin starred restaurant kitchen during a horrifying terrorist attack. To make matters worse, if possible, when the members of the kitchen staff took down their attacker, it turned out to be the extremist cousin of Lina’s. Hailed as a French national hero for her quick thinking, Lina nonetheless is also made to feel her otherness as a Muslim woman embroiled in an Islamic extremist attack, so her recovery means not just dealing with the shock of the events but also reclaiming herself and LIFE.

As I said earlier, Florand’s characters generally have instant sparks that morph quickly into deeper feelings. Generally, the pair ends up engaged by the end of the story, but the wedding itself waits for a reasonable and rational period of time. In Trust Me, I didn’t like or buy Florand’s timeline. While Jake is an experienced military professional (who also, no doubt, has trauma of his own), Lina’s entire world imploded when her deranged cousin attacked the restaurant. The story begins very nearly immediately after. While it is admirable and kick ass that Linais defiantly taking control of her life and emotional well-being, the forged-in-fire connection with Jake just feels too soon.  It’s not that the novel lacks Florand’s seemingly small, but swoon-worthy and incredibly intense moments of romance, it packs her usual sweet punch, and it isn’t that I didn’t enjoy the narrative. She just asked that bit too much of my very willing suspension of disbelief.

The irony of my qualms above is that Florand’s The Chocolate Touch is one of my all-time, top five favourite romances. In it, a woman who has recently experienced an extremely traumatic event falls fast and hard for a man with the private personality of a teddy bear and the public persona of a pit bull. So what is the difference here? I guess maybe that the connection between Lina and Jake was not captured in the same way and therefore I found the intensity of their pair bond less believable. Their coupling just felt all too soon.

Laura Florand’s Catalogue gives an overview of her published works of which I recommend many. I ADORE her particular brand of romance.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

51ArDz2ELQL._SY346_

 

Advertisements

La Vie en Roses: A Kiss in Lavender by Laura Florand

Short Version: I liked Laura Florand’s A Kiss in Lavender, though it felt more serious than other books in the La Vie en Roses series. The love story was heartfelt, the happy ending earned, and it had a substantial, forthright hero and a deeply vulnerable, but assertive heroine with the heart of a lion. I’ve read it twice now and while it’s not as swoony as some Florand, it has a kind of grounded solidity that I appreciate.

Long Version Including Discussion of a Book in a Different Laura Florand Series:

Before going on a well-earned sabbatical, Laura Florand had three book series running concurrently: L’Amour et Chocolat, La Vie en Roses, and Paris Nights. As with any writer, I preferred some books over others, but A Kiss in Lavender is the first Florand in which I felt she managed to resolve character issues from a previous work. Not for the original characters themselves, but for similar ones.

From my review of The Chocolate Heart:

They are two wounded people hiding behind false fronts and suffering from painful miscommunication. Elements that had been successful in the preceding books reached an intensity that left me uncomfortable. Luc is so busy being in control that he becomes almost clinical and Summer is so vulnerable that it feels like she is being used.

In A Kiss in Lavender, Lucien Rosier is visiting his family for the first time after a 15 year self-imposed exile. He joined the French Foreign Legion after learning something that challenged his entire sense of self. Assuming a true nom de guerre, he disappeared and built a new life for himself of which he is justifiably proud.

When Lucien’s Tante Colette hired Elena Lyon to track Lucien and assorted other scattered family members down and bring them into the Rosier fold, there’s a good chance she knew or hoped sparks would fly. Without a functional family of her own, Elena has resolute strength, but a tenderness where relationships are concerned. She has learned the hard way what happens when the adults meant to protect you fail to do so and the lasting impact it can have on your life. The results of all-too-human caregivers are a frequent theme in Florand’s books, and I find that in contemporary romance especially, building a new family is a recurrent motif.

But back to Luc and Summer:  I have recently reread The Chocolate Heart and Shadowed Heart to cope with Florand’s publishing absence. The author seems to both have a soft spot for their broken, loving persistence, and for the characters themselves. She wrote them a book, a novella, and a bonus story. Luc and Summer were genuinely messed up people and neither of them had any business being in a relationship, especially since their personal demons were guaranteed to cause each other maximum stress. In contrast, Elena and Lucien clash, but learn and grow into each other to move forward as a unit which is pretty much the essence of a romance novel.

In A Kiss in Lavender, it’s like Florand has written Lucien and Elena as the psychologically healthier version of Luc and Summer. Lucien, like Luc, is very much in control of himself, but in this case, it’s a quality that nurtures his partner. He is proving his trustworthiness and reliability. When Elena is vulnerable and shuts down, she does so by drawing on inner strength rather than lashing out as Summer does.No longer painfully miscommunicating characters finding moments of bliss between rounds of angst, this alternate story has two people falling in love and persisting, then insisting on working towards shared happiness. None of the four are exactly happy-go-lucky, even in their insistent pair bonds, but at least Lucien and Elena seem like they are united in working towards a stable future.

La Vie en Roses Series:

Continue reading

La Vie en Roses: A Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand

I miss Laura Florand! She’s been taking a well-earned break from a prodigious output of swoon-inducing and charming contemporary romances set in the worlds of pastry, chocolate, and perfumery. Her great gift as a romance writer is in creating the heady intensity of small romantic moments, as well as portraying elements of sexual tension and anticipation. Creating characters, she excels at people who balance each other out, often providing a security or grounding that one of them has lacked.  I’m hoping Florand will return with her final book in the La Vie en Roses series, but I am rereading and reviewing some of her other works in the meantime.

A Crown of Bitter Orange

Tristan Rosier and Malorie Monsard have known each other their whole lives. They both come from old Provencal families devoted to the perfume trade, but while Tristan is grounded by his history, Malorie is torn at by hers.

Living in the same place for centuries means the sins of ones forebearers are sometimes carried by descendants. With scurrilous family members having acted shamefully during World War II and, admittedly, more recently, the marks born by Malorie caused her to leave home immediately upon finishing high school. After the death of her grandmother, she’s back to either finally shutter her family’s landmark company or settle in Grasse permanently.

All of this means nothing to Tristan Rosier. Well, not nothing, he wants to see the Monsard business restored to its former glory, but he doesn’t care about the negative aspects of her family, what he really wants, what he has always wanted, is Malorie. After being seated together to help keep him and his bouncy distractedness in line at school, he was quietly and awkwardly devoted to her for years. Not that she noticed. Malorie liked him well enough, but considered him a bit of a charming pest and was oblivious to anything more because, well, Tristan is lovely to everyone.

Beloved by his protective clan, nurtured in the family trade, and aided by his own hard work, Tristan’s challenges have always been managed. Hard work has brought him incredible success as a “Perfume Nose” for their perfume dynasty. His only major professional setback was when Malorie, in her role as a firm accountant (pun intended) suggested less expensive substitutes for the ingredients in a perfume Tristan created.

With all of that set up in place, the story begins and moves, as Florand often does, very quickly to a romantic alliance full of joy and delightful vignettes with an assortment of family members.  A Crown of Bitter Orange was never less than enjoyable and Tristan continues to be amiable and appealing, as he was in the other series books, but the story never really grabbed me. I liked and understood Malorie, but her relationship with Tristandjust kind of moved along nicely and reached its anticipated and sought out conclusion.

La Vie en Roses Series:
Turning Up the Heat (Daniel/Lea) – prequel novella
A Rose in Winter (Raoul/Allegra) – prequel novella –  Florand can and has done better
The Chocolate Rose (Gabriel/Jolie) – prequel novel I *really* like
Once Upon a Rose (Matt/Layla)  – fun, great light escapism
A Wish Upon Jasmine (Damien/Jess) – not her strongest, it had a lot of promise
A Crown of Bitter Orange (Tristan/Malorie) – not memorable, he’s charming, see above
A Kiss in Lavender (Lucien/Elena) – good, recommended

Laura Florand’s Catalogue gives an overview of her published works — of which I recommend many. I adore her particular brand of romance. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Heroes and Heroines

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

Inspired by a commenter’s request, these are my favourite romance novel heroes and heroines, and I have a separate post for my couples. Ranking them would take too long, so I haven’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Favourite Heroes

Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron  – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting
Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year M/M clarification: Graham
Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan
Dare, Tessa Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked
Enoch, Suzanne The Rake
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Temptation
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant
Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Lady Sophia’s Lover
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night – Top 5 Hero
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  TWO REVIEWS
Kleypas, Lisa Smooth Talking Stranger
Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar
Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Milan, Courtney Unveiled – I’d marry him.
Milan, Courtney Unraveled FAVE
Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter  CLASSIC
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Zapata, Mariana Kulti 

My Favourite Heroines

Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrels  CLASSIC
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Heyer, Georgette Venetia
Jenkins, Beverly Indigo She’s amazing.
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Scandal in the Spring 
Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight – I’d marry her.
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift
Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette ScandalI want to be her.
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

Florand

Paris Nights: Chase Me by Laura Florand

Relentless, determined, good with knives, and the hero is no slouch either. In this Laura Florand contemporary romance, she proves again why she’s one of my favourite authors by having two badass leads instead of the usual one.

Violette Lenoir meets Chase Smith when he breaks into her Michelin two-star restaurant right before she leaves for the night. He’s some kind of former SEAL government operative – though he claims to work in private security –  but she doesn’t know that when she starts throwing knives at him. Instead of being cowed, Chase realises that this leather clad, no-nonsense chef is the woman of his dreams. A rather delightful round of insouciant banter follows and the two embark on a relationship by assignation.

Vi and Chase are the most playful of all the Florand’s leads which is quite a feat given the counter-terrorism elements and that, by the author’s own post script admission, she had reworked the story following the horrifying November 2015 Paris attacks.  They add reality and motivation to Chase’s professional zeal and grounding to the overall plot, not in an overwhelming way but as a dose of reality against the brightness of tone and an especially condensed timeline.

I really enjoyed Chase Me and was pleased to discover that several more stories were clearly being set up for Chase and Vi’s counterparts. Mostly, I reveled in how strong and tough Vi was. Having two tough as nails, protector types going toe-to-toe, and with each savouring the other’s inherent badassery , was a lovely change of pace. Strong heroine’s are not unusual in romance, but Vi was more explicitly tough than most women in these books.

Laura Florand’s Catalogue gives an overview of her published works of which I recommend many. I adore her particular brand of romance. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

florand-1

 

 

L’Amour et Chocolate Series: Sun-Kissed by Laura Florand

While it can be read as a standalone novella, Sun-Kissed was, for me at any rate, purchased so I could visit again with my favourite characters from Florand’s fantastic L’Amour et Chocolat series. Each featuring a world-renowned chocolatier/patissier and an American woman, the collection includes one of my favourite romances off all time: The Chocolate Touch. As the pretext for Sun-Kissed is the wedding of that novel’s couple – Dom and Jaime – and I really wanted to read more Florand, I surrendered and launched my money at Amazon while waiting for her to publish her next book.

Mack Corey, father to Jaime and The Chocolate Thief’s Cade, is the president of a large chocolate corporation *cough*Hershey*cough* and hosting his younger daughter’s wedding to Dom Richard at the family’s Hampton estate. His neighbour and frequent social companion, Anne Winter, is a lifestyle maven *cough*Martha Stewart meets Anna Wintour*cough* shepherding the festivities and terrifying the staff. Friends since before his wife passed away, Anne and Mack’s relationship is the subject of speculation amongst their guests, but they have not been romantically entwined despite their close bond. At least not until now when Mack decides to makes his move.

Anne is divorced with one grown son and, here’s the Martha Stewart-y bit, spent time in jail for insider trading. Guarded and intense, fear of her own emotions is what stops her from agreeing with the rightness of Mack’s suggestion that they become more to each other. The two court and spark through the wedding celebration and follow-up events before moving on to their together ever after and becoming an official team.

I’ve read a few romances with older protagonists, such as Mary Balogh’s lovely Only Beloved and Juliana Gray’s The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match which features an actual geezer, and since love is love, there is something very sweet about people who have been through life’s wringer and find a quiet, heartfelt, and passionate bond.

Laura Florand’s Catalogue gives an overview of her published works of which I recommend many. I adore her particular brand of romance. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

41l7ylkdngl

I don’t know who this is supposed to be. Anne is about fifty.

 

Romance Authors and Their Themes

The link in the author’s name will take you to either a summary of their catalogue or a relevant review.

Carla Kelly – People are inherently good and their kindness will surprise you.

Caroline Linden – Fortune favours the bold.

Cecilia Grant  – Live life on your own terms and be willing to accept the consequences.

Christina Lauren – Find someone with whom you can be your true self and who calls you on your bullshit.

Courtney Milan – Only you get to decide who you are. Fear is a waste of energy.

Jennifer Ashley – Love heals all wounds.

Julia Quinn – Marry your best friend.

Julie Anne Long – You must be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to find a true partner.

Kresley Cole – Misogynists need love, too, baby. He only hurts you because he loves you so.

Laura Florand – Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s. You are braver than you know.

Lisa Kleypas – Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone.

Lorraine Heath – Damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. B-list author.

Loretta Chase – Find someone who challenges you and life will never be dull.

Mary Balogh – Broken people finding someone to fit their pieces to and moving forward with their lives.

Tessa Dare – Life is an adventure! Be bold.

Suggestions are always welcome.

Links to reviews can also be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.