Tag Archives: Laura Florand

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.

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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 double-secret probation right now actually)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

-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
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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.