Tag Archives: Laura Florand

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.

L’Amour et Chocolat Series: Shadowed Heart by Laura Florand

Shadowed Heart is a follow up to Laura Florand’s The Chocolate Heart which is in itself the fifth book in the L’Amour et Chocolate contemporary romance series set in France. You could read this as a standalone novella, but I don’t really see the point as the purpose of this book is to check in on characters and have visits with the protagonists of the other books in the series. Without everyone’s backgrounds, not a lot is going to make sense.

Luc Leroi and Summer Corey have been married for a short time and they realise they have rushed in where angels fear to tread. Quickly espoused, they decide to have a child despite a. knowing each other less than a year, b. each having personal issues that seriously hinder communication and c. having recently moved to an entirely new location so that Luc can immerse himself in starting a new restaurant. Luc is frantically trying to use what he sees all he has to offer – his skill as a patissier – to secure his future with Summer and she, in turn, is desperately trying to mask her loneliness and isolation. They still need to do a lot of work on themselves and their relationship, and this book reinforced that notion.

I didn’t really care about seeing Luc and Summer again. Their story, The Chocolate Heart, was the weakest and my least favourite of the series. They are both damaged – which is fine – but I didn’t particularly like either one of them. She is profoundly vulnerable and he is a control freak. I bought Shadowed Heart for the visits with everyone else from the stories and it did not disappoint. I must tell you though that the most exciting part of the book was the excerpt of Florand’s upcoming book, Once a Hero, which promises more time with my favourite couple, Dom and Jaime of The Chocolate Touch.

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.

The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on probation right now actually)
Laura Florand Though she stopped publishing.
Talia Hibbert
Lisa Kleypas   The Queen for a very long time. Her back catalog is very deep and strong.
Julie Anne Long  Historicals only
Courtney Milan  The. Very. Best.
Lucy Parker Delightful. witty contemporaries
Sally Thorne Because her debut was just that good!

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Albert, Annabeth Save the Date (Randall/Hunter)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ann, Jewel E. When Life Happened (Gus/Parker)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Continue reading

L’Amour et Chocolat Series: The Chocolate Heart by Laura Florand

To borrow from a previous review:

The Chocolate Heart is book five in Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. The conceit of each novel is that an American woman is thrown into close proximity with a French chocolatier/pastry god. They fall in love quickly, get busy, and are engaged in short order. Florand provides consistently enjoyable escapism with romantic locations. The Chocolate Heart is not best of the series, that’s The Chocolate Touch, but The Chocolate Heart was certainly an absorbing and mostly entertaining read.

Summer Corey has been told all her life that she is spoiled and ungrateful. Her parents see her as property to be picked up and dropped as they see fit. The latest gambit in their cycle of attention and neglect is to give her a 4 star hotel in Paris as a Christmas gift. Their goal is to lure her back from the South Pacific island where she has been living and working as a teacher in blissful self-imposed exile. Summer must stay in Paris for three months to gain another expensive gift that she actually wants, a communications satellite something-or-other, for the island residents. She hates Paris, the hotel business, and dessert.

Luc Leroi is the charming perfectionist, and practically perfect in every way, head pastry chef at the hotel Summer has been given. He is driven and has worked relentlessly to reach the top of his profession and stay there. He’s only 30, but since he started when he was 10, it seems reasonable. He is always gorgeous and most of the time he manages to be charming, but Summer completely flummoxes him.

The Chocolate Heart has the most challenging of any of the American woman/French culinary deity combinations in these books. Summer is sympathetic, but not always likeable, and Luc is a victim of his own self-restraint. 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. It’s not romantic, so much as really unhealthy. Florand seems to realise this, too, as the book has a lengthy “several years later” epilogue to let the reader know that Luc and Summer are in a better, healthier place.

I do not recommend The Chocolate Heart, except maybe to visit favourite characters from other books in the group. This is the complete series for those who want to know with (order of preference):

  1. The Chocolate ThiefPretty good, it took me from 99 cents on Kindle to the complete series. (5)
  2. The Chocolate KissA very good fairy tale that made me forgive the metaphor. (2)
  3. The Chocolate RoseExcellent passion, it needed just a little more love story. (3)
  4. The Chocolate TouchMy favourite of the group, it was really sweet and intense. (1)
  5. The Chocolate Heart – The weakest of the group. (6)
  6. The Chocolate Temptation – Steamy, not quite as good, but still very readable. (4)

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.

L’Amour et Chocolat Series: The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand

Look! I found Laura Florand’s romance mission statement:

FlorandThe Chocolate Temptation is book six in Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. I reviewed the first four books in a previous effort. I will review the fifth, The Chocolate Heart, when I can get my hands on it at my local library, as it is priced out of my willing-to-pay range*. The conceit of each novel is that an American woman is thrown into close proximity with a French chocolatier/pastry god. They fall in love quickly, get busy, and are engaged in short order. Florand provides consistently enjoyable escapism with romantic locations. The Chocolate Temptation also happens to be particularly steamy.

Patrick Chevalier is the second in a three Michelin star restaurant. Part of his role is to guide and train the patissier team and apprentices. Sarah Lin is working for a tiny stipend and is just 36 days shy of completing her six month internship. She hates Patrick. She hates him for his loose-limbed, charming calm, his seemingly effortless professional perfection, and for the gallant way he treats her which she thinks is just being “French”.  Sarah is incredibly focused and ambitious, but unable to show herself any mercy when she fails to live up to the impossible standards she sets for herself and she sees being met by the more experienced professionals around her. Patrick has been madly in love with Sarah for months and trying to surreptitiously show her without crossing any professional lines. When she tells him, “I hate you,” after a particularly bad day, he takes it as his cue to see if that intense emotion could be hiding passion instead. They are protagonists with major walls around themselves, ones that lead to a great deal of miscommunication as they struggle to come together. Sarah is a mass of insecurities, vulnerable and over-sensitive. Patrick has carefully created the illusion of nonchalance, having learned to hide his feelings after a painful childhood.

After earlier uncertainty, The Chocolate Temptation confirmed for me that Florand is indeed using fairy tale allusions in her books and this one is Cinderella with a twist. I found the denouement rushed and twee, but consistent with the overall romanticism of Florand’s work. Patrick and Sarah were both too closed off to move quickly to an emotionally healthy relationship. Why not give them time to settle in before stampeding towards marriage? The setting is modern, couldn’t they just live together for a while?

I have enjoyed all of the novels in the Amour et Chocolate series. Florand manages to repeat her framing device without quite making the characters repetitious as well. The men all show far more emotional vulnerability than I am accustomed to in romance and it is a welcome change.

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

*If Amazon is listening, I will pay $2.99 for almost any well-reviewed romance; up to about $5.99 for a book I know to be a keeper; and full price for any author on my autobuy list, which can be found on my Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful. I also have a complete reading list of books sorted by author.

 

 

L’Amour et Chocolat Series: The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, The Chocolate Rose, and The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

I LOVE this series. Laura Florand does not go wrong mixing dessert, France, and love stories. She has an excellent conceit and uses it to maximum advantage in this intersecting contemporary romance series. As in life, almost everything comes back to chocolate, except the sex, that’s fairly frequently about oblique vanilla kink, and, truthfully, once or twice about chocolate, too.

Plot Summary (All): American woman meets French food god. Instant attraction. Conflict. Delicious food. Hot sex. Lifetime commitment about three weeks later.

The complete series with (order of preference):

  1. The Chocolate Thief – Pretty good, it took me from 99 cents on Kindle to the complete series. (5)
  2. The Chocolate Kiss – A great fairy tale that made me forgive the metaphor. (2)
  3. The Chocolate Rose – Excellent passion, it needed just a hint more love story. (3)
  4. The Chocolate Touch – My favourite of the group, it was really sweet and intense. (1)
  5. The Chocolate Heart – The weakest of the group. (6)
  6. The Chocolate Temptation – Steamy, not quite as great, but still very good and enjoyable. (4)

Each of the heroes are artists in their chosen medium which, fortunately for the reader, are food related. As professional chefs, they are artists, intelligent, driven, and self-disciplined. The heroes were also a little more insecure than is usual in a romance. They carry themselves with bravado, but Florand lets the reader see their vulnerability. Is it because they’re French that they are allowed to be masculine and sensitive as well? I’m not sure, but I really liked it.

The Chocolate Thief (Sylvain and Cade) – The Poet

Sylvain is the world’s best chocolatier. Cade Hershey Corey runs her family’s multi-billion dollar chocolate corporation and wants Sylvain to create an upscale product for them to market to the masses. Sylvain is horrified. I’m with him. The last thing the world needs is more bad chocolate hiding behind packaging and a shiny temper. Cade doesn’t succeed with her marketing idea, but she does land Sylvain. The poet of this group of men, he is a pure artist satisfied only with the very best.

The Chocolate Kiss (Phillippe and Magalie) – The Prince

A blatant take on Rapunzel complete with a golden-haired prince and a woman in a tower of her own experience and making. Will Magalie decide to come down? Can Philippe come up? There was a quasi-magic realism subplot involving wishes and hot chocolate that I found cloying and disruptive, but the love story still managed to sneak up on me and pack a wallop. It was so charming, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read any more of the books afterward.

The Chocolate Rose (Gabriel and Jolie) – The Beast

The two middle novels of the series feature fairy tale references in their structure. I’m not sure if the other two I’ve read do also and I just need to brush up on my Andersen and Grimm, or if Florand dropped the allusion. This Beauty and the Beast tale moves the story out of Paris and overlaps with another Florand series called Vie en Roses. That’s some savvy marketing, that is.

Gabriel is a patissier who runs a three star restaurant in a small town in Provence. He is passionate and has trouble not grabbing for what he wants. In this case, that means Jolie. Her father and Gabriel have a contentious history providing the maguffin to bring the leads into each other’s orbit. The energy of Gabriel and Jolie’s connection was enjoyable and he was adorably intense, but I had a hard time figuring out when they had fallen in love rather than lust. I’m not picky, a “they talked for hours” or variant thereof would have been sufficient to improve the story.

The Chocolate Touch (Dominique and Jaime) – The Warrior

I love a big lug. Dominique is a giant lug, plus a chocolatier-patissier and a maverick in his field. He worked his way up from violence and squalor, but still has qualms about his roughness and the brutality in his past. He has potential for acting out that he keeps reined at all times. He is not afraid of what he is, but what he might become and of how it will affect those around him. In a miracle of contemporary logic, he has received psychological help for his issues. Alleluia!

Hershey Corey chocolate heiress Jaime is convalescing after being severely beaten while undertaking aid work in the Third World. She is a remarkable, striving woman who nonetheless lacks confidence due to her privileged upbringing and the aftermath of the assault. She and Dominique are magnetically attracted to each other, even though neither can understand what the other person sees in them. He’s a kind of rock star, she considers herself ordinary. These two had the most issues and the most intense instant connection of the four books. It made a kind of sense for what each had been through and I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance in which the hero’s frailties were so thoroughly examined. They fall in love too fast, but not because it’s a novel, but because falling in love too fast is what people this damaged, and damaged in this way, often do. Dominique and Jaime seek refuge in each other, but in a healthy way.

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.