[486]: The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand

the chocolate temptation GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: Amour et Chocolat, #6
Self Published | January 15, 2014
Kindle Edition
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Have you ever met one of those perpetually flirty guy? You know the type:  one who can’t resist a wink, a nudge, and an innuendo with every word that comes out of his mouth?

Meet Patrick. Sous chef to Luc Leroi and a pathological flirt. Very few could resist his charms. Heck, very few would even dare to! Except maybe for Sarah Lin – his apprentice. Hand picked by Patrick himself, to shadow a couple of well known names in the annals of the lavish Parisian food industry. But Sarah hates him. Hates him for making sure that all her cuts, burns and bruises from working in a fast-paced environment are taken care of; hates him for making sure that she eats; hates him for making sure she gets home safely after a long, gruelling day of working in a three-star kitchen; hates him for making sure that she doesn’t take all of Luc Leroi’s cutting words to heart; hates him because he flirts with everything that moves. Most of all, she hates him because she can’t help but feel a giddy happiness every single time he does something thoughtful.

There was an underlying seriousness in all Patrick’s playfulness. He hides behind the facade of the easy-going, smiling face. Both Patrick and Sarah are afraid. Sarah is afraid to fail; because failing means she’d tuck tail and go back to California, where she’d once again disappoint her mother. Patrick, for his part, is afraid of stepping outside the shadow of his foster brother, Luc. Because for all his brilliance in the kitchen, it is not his dream. All his life, He’d been complacent to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.

Sarah’s story is heartbreaking. Her mother is a North Korean refugee who suffered the horrors of fleeing a country known for tight-fisted rule over its people. Her mother had to make a series of incredibly difficult choices that had left her scarred, and consequently, the reason why she expected a lot from Sarah.

In the end, they’d have to make some choices themselves. Least of all, is to try let the other inside. They also needed to take their careers into some heavy consideration. I love that Sarah is willing to temporarily postpone hers in behalf of Patrick’s. This doesn’t make her weak or subversive. Sometimes, giving up something important shows their incredible strength and courage. And Sarah was willing to do exactly that.

This is probably my second favourite book to this series. Florand flexed her writing muscle by telling a story that’s equally funny and heart-wrenching.

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[483]: The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

chocolate touch GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: Amour et Chocolat, #4
Kensington Books | Kindle, 305 pp.
Published: July 30th, 2013
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Dominique Richard’s personality perfectly represents the type of chocolate deserts he create: untamed, brass, and delightfully sinful. While his creations draw the wealthy masses for their decadence, there is one person who seeks the wild flavours of his chocolate for their soul-healing quality.

Jamie Corey’s guilt of being born with a silver spoon has led her to become the champion of those who can’t defend themselves. After an incident that nearly cost her, her life, she decides to get lost in the  quiet comfort of Paris: beautiful architecture, culture, and lavish chocolates her family only hopes to achieve. One of her favourites was Dominique Richard’s chocolate shop.

Unbeknownst to one another, each felt a mutual attraction both are wary to address. But if they ever have hopes of escaping the shadows that chase them, they need to shed whatever guards they put up around themselves.

The fourth book to this series gives us more of the same: luscious deserts beyond our imagination, the elegance of Paris, and a romance that could be as unforgettable as it is frustrating. Fortunately, I’m happy to say that the featured couple in this book won me over. I’m going as far to say that Dominique and Jamie are my favourite couple.

They didn’t drive me mad with their contempt at one another as did the previous books. Jamie Corey is a shy, freckled little thing trying to learn to get back on her feet again after she was beaten to within an inch of her life.  Surprisingly enough, Dominique was able to sense the fragility even before he learned of what happened to her.

Dominique is a big bear of a man. It’s sometimes hard to believe that he can handle something as delicate as Jamie. I supposed, if he can handle finely-spun sugar, and smooth as silk chocolat, treating Jamie with a kid glove was not as far-fetched.

This book was infinitely better than the first two books that I’ve read. The relationship is based on an almost immediate trust, so there’s very little drama to speak of. However, their story is a bit more emotionally-heavy (which I loved), due to the circumstances of Dominique’s past and Jamie’s recent tragedy.

I’m starting to enjoy these books a bit more. I can see the allure of Laura’s writing, and this series. As usual, her knowledge of the streets of Paris, the shops, and the different types of desserts ring abundantly clear with every instalment.

 

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[481]: The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand

thechocolaterose GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: Amour et Chocolat, #3
Kensington Books | Kindle 245 pp.
Publication date: April 10th, 2013
Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Top chef Gabriel Delange has an ax to grind. He can’t believe that the man who fired him after he’d earned him a three-star now has the gall to put out a book with his recipes.

So then he filed a lawsuit against him, and once again couldn’t believe that the man would send his daughter to try and soothe his feathers. But maybe all is not lost. Because as soon as he sees the beautiful Jolie Manon and mistakes her for prospective sous chef, albeit, an incompetent one, he knows he can try to work it to his advantage.

Jolie only ever wanted to do what’s best for her ailing father. Taking care of him while he writes his book makes up for all the time they spent estranged. Jolie knows what it’s like to lose a loved one to the profession. The family always takes a backseat to the restaurant no matter what. It’s what happened to her parents; estranged for as long as she can remember. So she must be crazy to be entertaining thoughts of a relationship with Gabriel Delange. Oh but she can’t resist!

I’ve been reading these books out of order, but it’s no biggie. In fact, you can probably treat them as stand-alones in the same world. It’s been fun reading these books no matter how I felt about the first. Romance novels are only as good as the characters in them, and these books, at least, have consistently introduced me to some pretty larger than life personalities.

Gabriel Delange is one of those. I’ve noticed that Ms. Florand do like her men big, burly, and so outside of my perception of how chefs should look like. But if there’s one thing I’ve been learning about them, is that they are incredibly dedicated people. It’s like being married to a surgeon, almost. You’ll be constantly vying for their attention, and who does painstaking work.

Chefs are like artists, too. And Ms. Florand perfectly describes the beauty of their work. I’m sort of happy Gabriel is not a pâtissier or a chocolatier. Truth be told, I’ve been experiencing phantom toothaches from reading these books. A twinge in my teeth whenever a character pops a chocolate in their mouth. Which is the most ridiculous thing I could ever admit to , I know.

Jolie is a person who likes making people happy. She coddles her father, and strokes his ego. The poor girl got stuck between two magnanimous forces (her father and Gabriel) that I felt like she rightfully deserved a bitch-fit.

In summary, aside from my experience with the first book, Amour et Chocolat is a series that I can recommend if you’re on the look out for fast, decadent romance reads. The characters are perfectly drawn out, and the plots, well conceptualized. Fall in love with the characters, and enjoy the sceneries of France!

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[478] The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand

chocolatekiss GOODREADS SUMMARY
Kensington Books | Kindle |Audible
Series: Amour et Chocolat, #2
Publication: December 24, 2012
Contemporary Fiction | Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


This one was slightly better than Chocolate Thief, though frustration is, once again, the prevalent emotion throughout this novel.

Slightly fantastical, The Chocolate Kiss tells the story of Magalie and Phillipe Lyonnaise. Magalie finally found the stability her parents couldn’t give her; and in an island in the middle of Paris, her aunts and their seemingly enchanted tea shop is the place she can finally call home. Everything is threatened when Phillipe Lyonnaise moves in the neighbourhood, however.

Phillipe Lyonnaise owns a world-renowned pâtisserie. As soon as he sees La Maison des Sorcieres, he knows it’s the right neighbourhood to open up another shop. Unfortunately, the three women that own and run the mystical tea shop were not so receptive to him moving into their territory. But he’s determined to change their minds. With just a taste of his macarons, he knows they’ll be eating out of his hand. He just didn’t anticipate how stubborn the three women are. Especially Magalie Chaudron.

This book is about contest of wills and battle for supremacy. The women knew their long-standing salon de the is threatened with Lyonnaise moving into their turf. Above all, it’s Magalie’s journey to find her self-worth; to realize she could be the home for someone looking for stability themselves.

I mentioned frustration, and it was palpable with every single interaction between Magalie and Phillipe. The relationship was contemptuous, and to be honest, not really in a fun way.


For practically the majority of the novel, these two tried their darnest not to partake in each one’s creations. Because they fear that they’ll lose part of themselves. I suppose it’s the euphemism that perfectly describes the dynamics of their relationship. They’re both reluctant to give in and impart pieces of themselves they’re not willing to give.

I listened to the audiobook and also downloaded the e-book. I had to stop listening after a while because the narration wasn’t working out for me. At this point, I think I’m going to just read them on my Kindle instead of downloading the audio. It was tough listening to the English dialogues spoken with French accents. I had a hard time understanding it. Though this is just probably me. I know Rachel (The Readers’ Den) loved the accent.

For now, I think I’m moving forward with this series. I’m starting to appreciate Florand’s knowledge of pastries, chocolates, and Paris. She makes me want to savour everything France has to offer.

 

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[476]: The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

chocolatethiefGOODREADS SUMMARY
Kensington | Kindle Edition
Publication Date: July 31st, 2012
Romance | Adult Fiction
Amour et Chocolat Series, Book 1
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


Billionaire heiress, Cade Corey is on a mission to stamp the name of  the most prolific chocalatier on their brand. Getting Sylvain Marquis to agree, however, will prove to be a challenge. Negotiations fell apart; bribery only cost her, her self-respect. So when she can’t get him to give her the time of day, she resorts to thievery. Awkwardness and so-so chemistry ensue.

Truth be told, I am not a fan of these two. Sylvain instantly gives credence to the stigma that the French people are snobs when it comes to their food. His disdain for anything mass produced did not make him all that appealing. In fact, he was downright insulting. While his conviction may be alluring to some, I found that he incites a completely different feeling in me. He was, for the most part, an obnoxious romantic interest. I was not a fan.

Cade Corey is hardly any better. I can commend her for sticking through what she believes in, but at times, I found her exhausting. It’s as if she has blinders when it comes to Sylvain. While it may be true that Sylvain did not insult her personally, the way he looked down on her family’s source of fortune was, to me, an extension of her own person.

I love the French language. I think it’s romantic. It’s right up there with Italian or Spanish. What I didn’t like, however, is the gratuitous insertion of French that more often, was not translated so the non-speaking reader can understand. It lent to some annoyance, and worst, choppy narration.

This first book lacked a couple of key ingredients: likeable characters and conflict. Sylvain was a conundrum. He has moments of self doubt unheard of for someone who oozes a magnanimous male ego. So much so that he sounded like every other Mary Sue who don’t think of themselves worthy enough. Cade for her part, has questionable intentions. I can’t decide whether she likes Sylvain for the person that he was, or for what he represents from a business stand point.

The lack of conflict also aided in the low rating for this book. It was boring. There were no ups and downs, so more often, I was left feeling apathetic. They hardly even fought, and even with the temporary separation, I felt nary a twinge of anticipation for their eventual reunion.

So far, we’re not off to a good start. But I’m crossing my fingers that the next one will be better.

 

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