The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand

Apparently I’ve had a draft of a review for The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand sitting in my dashboard for the past few months. I dusted it off and tweaked it just in time for Amour et Florand this weekend. It’s always a pleasure to read a book by one of your favorite authors. The Chocolate Temptation is part of the Amour et Chocolat series and the books can be read out of order because they stand well enough on their own. However, the characters in The Chocolate Temptation were earlier featured in The Chocolate Heart so I think it would be a good idea to read the latter first. I was intrigued by Patrick in The Chocolate Heart so I’m delighted that he got his own book.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The Chocolate TemptationShe hated him.
Patrick Chevalier. The charming, laid-back, golden second-in-command of the Paris pastry kitchen where Sarah worked as intern, who made everything she failed at seem so easy, and who could have every woman he winked at falling for him without even trying. She hated him, but she’d risked too much for this dream to give up on it and walk out just so he wouldn’t break her heart.

But he didn’t hate her.
Sarah Lin. Patrick’s serious, dark-haired American intern, who looked at him as if she could see right through him and wasn’t so impressed with what she saw. As her boss, he knew he should leave her alone. The same way he knew better than to risk his heart and gamble on love.

But he was never good at not going after what – or who – he wanted.

He could make magic out of sugar. But could he mold hate into love?

Out of all the Amour et Chocolat novels, The Chocolate Temptation stands out because one of the main characters is a female pastry chef. I know how male-dominated the industry is since I have a cousin abroad who works in that field, so it’s pretty interesting to get a better idea of what things are like from Sarah’s point of view. I think Sarah is a great character. I love how brave she is in terms of changing career paths. She’s an intelligent person, with an engineering degree from Caltech. She could have been living comfortably in the States while working as an engineer and yet she chooses to throw that away to pursue a culinary career. I admire her guts and her passion for what she feels is the right path for her. Patrick is also very passionate about being a pastry chef. He was once a foster child but he has risen to the top of the culinary ladder and is now one of the best pastry chefs in Paris. I liked Patrick’s easygoing nature and how he’s constantly being likened to a beach bum/surfer guy. What a contrast to the demanding and hectic workplace that they thrive in. He also has a terrific sense of humor, which he uses to relieve the pressure that everyone feels in their work environment. I also loved the dynamics between his relationship with Luc, especially after getting Luc’s POV from The Chocolate Heart.

Sarah thinks of herself as the lowly intern and she obviously looks up to Patrick as her mentor. Being attracted to each other, without knowing what the other person is feeling, gives their relationship tension that stretches out over the months of Sarah’s internship. They both feel that liking the other person is inappropriate – since Patrick is essentially one of Sarah’s bosses – and yet they can’t help feeling that way. I loved this bit of comparison of their romance to their creations:

“This thing between them was like this beautiful fairytale of a dessert constructed out of work and caution and risk and whimsy. Leaping and twirling, full of color and taste, a wrong breath could break it. And yet night after night, in the kitchens, they made such fragile magics and waiters got that fragility all the way to the tables they were meant for.”

Such a beautiful way of describing what began as a tentative romance that slowly developed into something deeper. Given how passionate they are about their work, it’s not surprising how strong their feelings are for each other. I’m not usually a fan of workplace romance but Laura Florand handles it so well. I had such a lovely time reading about Sarah and Patrick – from how they started getting to know each other outside the workplace to how much they’re willing to sacrifice to make the other person happy. At this point, I feel like I’m a broken record because I keep recommending Laura Florand’s books. But that’s only because they’re SO GOOD. Go forth and read them.

6 thoughts on “The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand

  1. While I love the idea behind this book – the heroine giving up her “perfect” immigrant Asian career/life and essentially everything she’s worked for to pursue her real dream of becoming a pastry chef, there were parts when Sarah’s Asian background started to feel like it was just tacked on for the sake of making her a unique heroine.

    I’m all for diversity in romance fiction and YA, and I loved that Laura Florand always prioritizes the fact that Patrick was attracted to her because of her determination and her strong will over her Asian-ness/exotic features. Hence, the Asian background only works to shape Sarah as a character rather than completely define her. BUT I would have wanted that background to be fleshed out a bit more, especially for readers who only have a very sketchy idea of what the American immigrant experience entails (myself included). More glimpses into Sarah’s home life prior to jettisoning it all in favor of Paris and a dream would definitely have helped transition between all those introspective glimpses into the hero and heroine’s heads that Ms. Florand is so fond of in her books.

    Still, this most recent book in the series was a welcome change from the somewhat more worn paths of the previous books. For one thing, this is the first book she’s done where both hero and heroine are literally in the same field (lowly intern and second-in-command notwithstanding). And this is the first book where the hero doesn’t try to, ahem, slowly seduce the heroine via chocolate/dessert. Instead, Patrick’s caring is shown in the little things he does to help make Sarah’s life in the kitchen easier without compromising on her training. Admittedly, that’s where the source of conflict between our hero and heroine begin, but how they gradually manage to untangle all the misunderstandings they were both laboring under made for some enjoyable reading. Added bonus points for this scenario actually being the most likely to happen in real life out of all the scenarios Ms. Florand has done so far for her books.

    And yes, that was pretty much 2/3 of a full review. LOL.

    Oh, and I agree that Patrick is the perfect foil for Luc. I can’t imagine how much more uptight Luc would have become without Patrick to temper him during his rise to chef patissier of a three-star hotel restaurant. He takes himself waaaay too seriously sometimes. Patrick, on the other hand, is such an easygoing, wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve type of person that it’s hard to imagine the possibility of him hiding his emotions at all. Perfect example of what we Pinoys describe as “nasa loob ang kulo” taken to extremes.

    • Kim, you could have written your own review with this comment! LOL. I really didn’t have a problem with Sarah’s Asian-ness, I didn’t think that I needed to see more of Sarah’s home life. She did mention her mom several times and what her mom’s reaction was to her career change.

      I always thought “nasa loob ang kulo” was more for the quiet types?

      • Haha. I did say that this turned out into 2/3 of a review already. Will move it to my blog later. Maybe this comment will be the remaining 1/3? Xp

        I liked the fact that the book didn’t objectify Sarah an Asian stereotype. But it did get me scratching my head about whether it’s really that easy to get political asylum in the US. Also, from the way Sarah’s home life was described in the book, I couldn’t get a sense of whether she still got a traditional Korean upbringing or if her mom was really that determined to erase all traces of her Korean past from her children’s lives. Those handwriting lessons were the only glimpse I got, and it seems that Sarah’s entire perfectionist mindset was hinged on that single event. Remove those scenes and Sarah could be just another plucky but slightly insecure white contemporary romance heroine.

        I agree that extra scenes would not be necessary to forward the plot, but it just seems such a shame to have a culturally diverse character without making more use of her background to flesh her out as a character and differentiate her from the rest. I think at one point it’s mentioned that Sarah’s tired of representing immigrants. Non-immigrant readers will have stereotypes to fall back on to fill in the blanks, but more supporting scenes with Sarah’s input would help move the image from stereotype to real-life person’s experience. A bit more showing to support the telling, in effect?

        I think Luc and Patrick are both examples of nasa loob ang kulo, but in opposite ends of the spectrum? Luc’s the more typical representation though.

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