Tag Archives: Paris Hearts

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.

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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.

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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.