Tag Archives: Laura Florand

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

HISTORICAL Romance

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre

CONTEMPORARY Romance

  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

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

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La Vie en Roses Series: A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand

This second book in Laura Florand’s La Vie en Roses contemporary romance series was not my favourite, but that in no way changes the fact that I will continue to buy everything she publishes, nor my strong recommendations for her novels. If nothing else, A Wish Upon Jasmine made me go and re-read a large portion of the preceding book Once Upon a Rose and that made me all smiley.

Damien Rosier, “the mean one”, is the glue that holds his family’s perfume business together. Working in the south of France among the rose, lavender, and jasmine fields, it falls to Damien to take care of the money that finances his family’s dreams. A blade of a man, he has a soft heart and a hard shell which rarely cracks, but six months ago it was shattered. Meeting, consummating their mutual attraction, and falling more than a little bit in love during an unintentional one night stand, the woman who snuck away comes back into his life when she receives a piece of his family history (a local perfume shop) as an inheritance. Damien’s Tante Colette has been doing this frequently of late and her gifts propel the action of the series.

Jasmin Bianchi, a top perfumer, may have had the Rosier shop fall into her lap, but it is exactly what she needs professionally and personally. She had an extremely tough year and although there was one possible bright spot, her intense night of emotional connection with Damien (which is not shared in enough detail before they jump to the more adventurous coitus), she panicked and fled. Essentially A Wish Upon Jasmine starts with The Big Misunderstanding that usually takes place much later in (hackneyed) romances and while I really liked the trope twist, the rest of novel didn’t work as well for me. Damien did everything short of setting himself on fire to make his intentions clear and she took forever to get it. Jasmin’s insistent obtuseness got very frustrating.

You can’t win them all and even with some bumps in A Wish Upon Jasmine, Laura Florand is still one of the best writers of contemporary romance publishing today. She is particularly good at portraying the intensity of emotional and sexual attraction, and I never get tired of her emotionally vulnerable heroes. Combined with the uber-romantic settings in Paris and the south of France, it’s a winning combination almost every time.

Addendum December 2015: After, presumably,  reading my mind and those of my fellow readers, Florand added a bonus prequel called Night Wish to the story that describes Damien and Jasmin’s first night together before the events of the novel unfold. It was wonderful and had that deliciously romantic tone that Florand excels at. If it had been included in the longer book, A Wish Upon Jasmine would have been a more successful novel.

Laura Florand’s Catalogue summarizes all of her books and happens to include one of my favourite romances off all time: The Chocolate Touch.

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

 

Paris Nights Series: All for You by Laura Florand

Five years ago, Joss Castel* left Celie and everything he knew behind to join the French Foreign Legion. He wanted to be more for her, better, to lay the foundation of a life together outside the tenements they had grown up in. The only problem is that he did not tell Celie any of this. Joss held himself in a self-made friends-only space until they could start their a life in a new place. He was her closest friend and the person she adored. All Celie knew was that the man she loved abandoned her and didn’t come back for five years. In his quest to be more for Celie, Joss broke her heart. Now 28 years old to Celie’s 23, he’s back to lay his accomplishments at her feet. She still loves him, but that feeling is constantly at war with her need to brain Joss for his surprise departure and sudden return.

All for You showcases once again Laura Florand’s ability to write enjoyable, thoroughly escapist contemporary romance. While her books often feature down-to-earth billionaires, a trope I am not fond of (but which Florand manages to pull off), this outing has two people from the wrong side of the tracks who are determined to build better lives for themselves. Celie took a teenage apprenticeship with a local baker and through her hard work and desire to excel now works for one of Paris’s premiere chocolatiers. It’s into this shop that Joss bursts back into her life. Celie is overwhelmed and angry, but so happy to see him she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

Joss and Celie’s reunion and the timeline of the book is actually quite condensed. From beloved, to “Idiot”!,  back to beloved takes place over a short period, but includes enough flashbacks for context and some excellent, writhing, repressed smolder to keep things moving along. A might fortress is our Joss, so it’s a one-step-forward-two-steps-back romance until everyone comes to their senses and he learns that Celie wants the journey with him more than she wants the destination. Florand is generally very good with couples experiencing communication problems and, while it frustrated me and went on a bit, Joss really is a prisoner of his own reserve, Legion-trained stoicism, and good intentions. Despite this, while he may be a military man to his core now, he is free of the annoying romance writer’s crutch of PTSD.

Blissfully, my favourite couple from Florand’s L’Amour et Chocolat series novel, The Chocolate Touch, are on hand to provide guidance to the couple and doses of their own adorability. Still madly in love, Dom continues to be a giant lug and much fun is had teasing him for referring to Jaime as his “wife” despite lacking the official and legally binding piece of paper indicating this. Incorporating previous characters without letting them dominate is a challenge that many romance writers face and Florand does well with it. I wanted more of Dom and Jaime, of course, but then I always will.

All For You crosses over with the L’Amour et Chocolat series and will be crossing over with the La Vie en Roses series as well.

*Fun Aside: Josselin Castle

A complete summary of Laura Florand’s catalogue, including recommendations, can be found here.

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

L’Amour et Chocolat Series: All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand

Falling first in her L’Amour et Chocolat Series, this novella was breezy, romantic, and had some excellent smolder. I’m not sure which fairy tale All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate is supposed to be or if, indeed, all of Laura Florand’s works have allusive story lines, but I don’t care, although I kind of do, so I’m going see if I can figure it out. BRB. [muzak intermission]

After a year of planning, Ellie has just moved herself and her art blog to Paris to live her dream of working in The City of Light. Caught trying to take surreptitious photos of Simon Casset’s display window by the chocolatier himself, Ellie makes a quick decision to tell him that she is planning to get married and looking for someone to make a showpiece for her wedding reception. Simon sees through the lie immediately, but given his instant fascination with her, decides to play along. Ellie’s poor imaginary fiance suffers a moped accident en route to their wedding consultation with Simon. Things proceed apace for Ellie and Simon with only the barrier of Ellie’s much-needed confession standing between them and happily ever after.

The condensed timeline matched with the novella length makes for a very tight story. It’s all about the romance and falling in love at first sight. It was a swoony, pleasantly escapist, and enjoyable read. Published in a novella package, it is not available as a standalone book. I was able to borrow it for free on KindleUnlimited and will mourn its loss when I end my free trial and have to return it.

A complete summary of Laura Florand’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

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

La Vie en Roses Series: A Rose in Winter by Laura Florand

As mentioned in my other reviews of her books, Laura Florand builds on fairy tales in her works and this one was no exception. Sometimes, I can’t quite tell which story she is referencing, and truth be told it doesn’t matter, but in this case it was Little Red Riding Hood. I know because it is quite explicit and Florand didn’t manage to tone it down as much as she did in other stories. At some point, I am going to have to make a list of what the allusions are, but I think I’ll need to brush up on my mythology first.

The first novella in Florand’s La Vie en Roses series, the reader is introduced to all the heroes yet to come and to the first match among them – Raoul and Allegra. He is the ex-pat son, recently returned to Provence from running the family business in Africa and she is a PhD student in immigration patterns studying the effects of local industry (perfume) on populations. She picks up vulpine Raoul in a bar and, wrapped in her red cloak, brings him to her home where she tells him that she doesn’t want to feel safe. After a toe-curling night together, the morning after falls apart and the two have to fight through their misconceptions to start a proper relationship.

You would think that the fantasy is that a one night stand will turn into a long-term relationship, but that is always possible, to me the true wish-fulfillment element of the book is that taking home a stranger twice as large and stronger than you could be something safe to do. However, everyone takes stupid risks in life and they can pay off just as this one does for Raoul and Allegra.

A Rose in Winter quite simply isn’t up to the same writing standard as the other Florand books I have read, even the one I didn’t like. I read it for free and back list completion purposes, but she has other, better books that I recommend highly for satisfying escapism. A complete summary of Laura Florand’s catalogue can be found here.

Romance novelist godhead Kathleen Woodiwiss also has a book called A Rose in Winter which for many years contained my favourite hero. I suspect there are other similarly titled books between that and this one, perhaps I should make a study.

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

Laura Florand’s Catalogue

Themes: Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s.

EXCLUSIVELY CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES

L’Amour et Chocolat Series:
All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate – prequel novella, great steam, quick, fun read
The Chocolate Thief – Pretty good, it took me from 99 cents on Kindle to the complete series.
The Chocolate Kiss – A great fairy tale that made me forgive the metaphor.
The Chocolate Rose – Excellent passion, needed just a hint more love story. Very good.
The Chocolate TouchOne of my top 5 of all time, really sweet and intense. LOVE IT.
The Chocolate Heart – The weakest of the group.
The Chocolate Temptation – Steamy, not quite as great, but still enjoyable.
Shadowed Heart – novella follow-up to The Chocolate Heart, meh, but features visits with EVERYONE

Snow-Kissed – Somber novella of a couple finding their way back to each other after loss
Sun Kissed – novella – Main characters in their 50s, which is nice, but I read it for visits with everyone else.

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

Paris Nights Series:
All for You (Joss/Celie) – Florand in fine form PLUS Dom and Jaime appear
Chase Me (Chase/Violette) – enjoyable, fantastic banter
Trust Me (Jake/Lina) – Good, not great

La Vie en Roses Series: Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

Welcome to my autobuy list, Laura Florand. With her newest contemporary romance, she has guaranteed that I will be making ready and willing contributions to her income for the foreseeable future, pages and reviews unseen. In the first novel in her new series, La Vie en Roses, Florand has again mixed lovely escapism with sincere romance and, for the first time, a wonderful dose of humour. Her books were not previously morose, but this one has a conviviality that just adds to the fun, Once Upon a Rose is a delightful and charming read.

Matt Rosiers is one of 5 cousins who are the owners and caretakers of the family business (more potential heroes, yay!) Growing roses for oil extraction into perfume, you can just imagine how lovely the setting must be. Matt’s valley in Provence, he is very definite about it being his, has been in the family for 400 years, so he is a more than a little taken aback when his elderly aunt gives a house and a small piece of the family land to Layla, some kind of distant family connection he was hitherto unaware of. Big, growly, vulnerable Matt gets wrapped around Layla’s little finger, and she his, in very short order. It’s what Florand does best, or I like best, one of those two, maybe both, she writes fantastic protectors is the heart of the matter, and Matt is no exception.

Layla, sweet and open-hearted, is a singer-songwriter transitioning from the success of her first CD to the pressures of matching the accomplishment with her second. Emotionally spent, she has decided to check out the house that has been left to her for reasons she can’t understand, but things go awry when her car breaks down in the hills of Provence. Stranded, she wanders through rose fields to the nearest house to find Matt’s thirtieth birthday party in full swing. Far from sober, Matt decides Layla must be his girlfriend and enthusiastically welcomes her to the fete. Despite this inauspicious beginning, and an embarrassing one for Matt, he and Layla follow the pattern of all of Florand’s protagonists, falling hard and fast with plenty of romance and smolder to keep readers happy.

Once Upon a Rose lived up to the fairy tale enchantment of the title and Florand’s allusive characters, but is not treacly or precious, and a fun way to avoid reality for several hours. She is a very deft writer and I am always amazed by authors who have so clearly found their groove, especially when it fits so neatly in to my reading niche. The settings are so romantic, they are real places, but with an unreality that takes the reader away from its own practicalities (Matt is running a farm after all, no matter how glamourous its harvest) and lets readers be a tourist in a North American’s idealized version of France without annoying the locals.

The Vie en Roses series already includes a book and a novella, the former of which crosses over with Florand’s L’Amour et Chocolat series. A complete summary of Laura Florand’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

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