Amour et Florand: How did you discover Laura’s books?

Amour et Florand

Welcome to Amour et Florand, a blog event celebrating Laura Florand’s writing! I’m excited to be hosting this event, with guest posts from other Laura Florand fans throughout the week. If you’ve known me for a while then you’re probably aware of how enthusiastic I can get when it comes to the authors I love. I can’t stop talking about them and I keep pushing friends, both online and in real life, to read their books. Because I want more readers to pick up books written by favorite authors, I started hosting blog events to focus on their work. This is the first time I’ve featured a romance author in one of these events, which makes Amour et Florand special. Some of the other events that I’ve hosted were Queen’s Thief Week (about Megan Whalen Turner’s writing), Marchetta Madness (about Melina Marchetta) and EWein Special Ops (about Elizabeth Wein).

Let’s kick off Amour et Florand with stories of how we discovered Laura Florand’s books. I first found out about her last year. In March 2013, I traveled from Singapore to LA to attend a cousin’s wedding. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to meet one of my long-time blogging buddies: Michelle of See Michelle Read. I will always be thankful that Michelle was willing to drive a couple of hours in order for us to finally meet in person.

withMichelle

Michelle and I at Barnes and Noble

We had lunch, dropped by a bookstore and of course, chatted about books. Michelle was raving about Laura Florand, this contemporary romance author who writes about chocolates and Paris. I was immediately curious because Michelle and I tend to have similar tastes in the books that we read. I take her recommendations seriously. I can still remember inquiring at the B&N branch we visited if they had copies of The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss. I would have bought them right then and there if they were available but unfortunately, they weren’t. Good thing I was planning to order books online and I was able to include those two in my haul. I read The Chocolate Thief a few weeks later and that started my love affair with Laura Florand’s books. She became an auto-read author for me and I’ve read all of her books since then. I’ve also traveled to Paris and Aix-en-Provence last April and Laura’s books were constantly on my mind during the time we were there. It’s a good thing two of the friends I was with have read her books because I kept talking about them. Unfortunately, I didn’t encounter any handsome chocolatiers or perfumers.

On one hand, I feel lucky that I discovered her work early – she only had two books out at that time. But on the other hand, I envy those who will be able to have a nice glom of all her work. It’s a good thing there isn’t a long wait in between her books because I really can’t get enough of Laura’s writing. I’m really looking forward to her next release, Once Upon a Rose.

So that’s how I found out about Laura’s books, through the recommendation of a very good friend. What about the rest of you, how did you find out about Laura Florand’s books? Was it through a friend, a book blogger or just by browsing in a bookstore? What was the first Laura Florand book that you read? Share your stories! I would love to hear them. Let the Amour et Florand discussions begin. 🙂 Feel free to leave a comment or please use the hashtag #AmouretFlorand on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram if you plan to talk about the event over there, just so we can all follow the posts.

Links to my reviews of Laura’s books:
All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand
The Chocolate Thief
The Chocolate Kiss
The Chocolate Touch
The Chocolate Rose
(Novel Gossip discussion)
The Chocolate Temptation
Turning Up the Heat
A Rose in Winter

Snapshot from a Book:
The Chocolate Thief
The Chocolate Touch

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.

Coming Soon: Amour et Florand

Remember The Queen’s Thief Week, Marchetta Madness and EWein Special Ops? On the week of July 21 to 27, I have another special event planned which will be called Amour et Florand. Similar to all the earlier blog events that I mentioned, this will focus on one of my favorite authors: Laura Florand. It will be a week filled with guest posts and discussions all about her writing. I love Laura’s books and I’m hoping that the upcoming Amour et Florand will encourage more readers to pick up her novels.

Amour et Florand

FYI, the image used (with her permission) for the blog event is Laura’s own wedding picture! Doesn’t it look so romantic? If any of you want to write a guest post for Amour et Florand, just let me know. 🙂 Or if you’re more comfortable writing a post on your own blog, feel free to grab the image above and link to the event. I will also promote your posts during the week of the event. If you haven’t read any of Laura’s books, now is a good time to start.

Snapshot From a Book: The Chocolate Touch

Paris is such a photogenic city. I’m so glad I decided to take a lomo camera with me because some of the results are just lovely. I feel like I keep going on and on and Paris and Laura Florand’s novels but I can’t help it – her writing vividly describes the city. The pictures just go perfectly with her words.

Snippets from The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand:

Lomo - Paris Seine

“He didn’t talk, but a man who had Paris in the springtime didn’t need to talk. Better not. Better just to concentrate on the cool breeze off the river, stirring his shaggy black hair, the bridges that stretched away through the centuries, that fresh young green on the trees along the quays. Evening was falling later and later. The sun was only starting to set now, easy blurred shades of pink and gold and gray through low strips of clouds. The sky above them was blue, clear, but blurring toward gray. Half the world looked in love, couples strolling hand in hand along the Seine. At the edge of that sunset, in the west, far away along the river that simmered with pink and gold, the Eiffel Tower rose, gentled by the low haze.”

Lomo - Paris bridge

Lomo - Paris bridge sunset

“Paris was a good place to fight your demons. The streets were so tempting to explore, the gritty realism of their dirt and crowds tempered by that element of fairytale inherent to the city.”

Lomo - Paris crowds

Lomo - Paris flare

All over Paris
April 2014
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia, Kodak Elitechrome, Lomo Redscale

Snapshot From a Book: The Chocolate Thief

You know how sometimes you take a picture that perfectly describes a snippet from a book that you’ve read? I love it when that happens. While I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to match the shots that I take with the books that I read, I wanted to share these moments on the blog. When I went to Europe last month, I brought along my Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim film camera with me and was able to go through a couple of rolls. I received the results last Friday. I think some of them turned out great while some left me wondering what the hell was I trying to achieve while taking those pictures. One can never really predict the results when shooting lomo. I guess it’s not surprising that some of these pictures made me think of Laura Florand’s books.

From The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand:

“She liked to just walk all over the city. She really never saw a cobblestone street or an old building she didn’t like.”

Lomo - Montmartre

Lomo - Montmartre

Montmartre, Paris
April 2014
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia

I think it’s fitting that both of these pictures have couples in them, perfect for a Laura Florand romance. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays: October 2

WWW Wednesdays

WWW WEDNESDAYS… is a weekly event where you share (1) What you’re currently reading, (2) What you recently finished reading, and (3) What you think you’ll read next.

It’s Wednesday, middle of the week! The weekend is just around the corner. While I don’t participate in WWW Wednesdays every week, I still think it’s fun to do from time to time. This way, I get to talk about books that I might not get a chance to review later on.

My Most Excellent Year outdoors

Last book I finished: My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger, which I wrote a Retro Friday review for. It’s an under-the-radar contemporary YA novel that I think more readers should check out. It was such a fun and heartwarming read for me.

The Dream Thieves in Times

Currently reading: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, the sequel to The Raven Boys. I enjoyed reading The Raven Boys but my favorite Maggie Stiefvater novel is still The Scorpio Races. However, several book blogger friends have been raving about The Dream Thieves so I have high hopes for this one. I’m halfway through and I’m enjoying it but still waiting to be wowed.

The Chocolate Heart galley

Planning to read next: I requested and got approved for The Chocolate Heart by Laura Florand on NetGalley, the fifth book in the Amour et Chocolat series. I’m so excited to read this because the release date isn’t until November 26 but the galley is already available. I love the Amour et Chocolat series and it’s nice to have a new Laura Florand title in my Kindle.

What about the rest of you, care to answer the three questions thrown out by this meme? What book are you currently reading, what have you just finished and what are you thinking of picking up next?

The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

My love affair with Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat contemporary romance series started with The Chocolate Thief. I was captivated by that first book and I knew I would want to read the rest of the novels as soon as they came out. I have been really curious about The Chocolate Touch ever since I found out who the two main characters are going to be – both Dominique and Jaime were mentioned in the first book. I was lucky enough to get a review copy of this and I read it as soon as I could. I was a bit bummed that The Chocolate Touch’s cover didn’t follow the design of the first two and I don’t think the couple in it is a good representation of the characters. But that’s a minor quibble that has nothing to do with the contents of the novel.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The Chocolate TouchDominique Richard’s reputation says it all — wild past, wilder flavors, black leather and smoldering heat. Jaime Corey is hardly the first woman to be drawn to all that dark, delicious danger. Sitting in Dom’s opulent chocolaterie in Paris day after day, she lets his decadent creations restore her weary body and spirit, understanding that the man himself is entirely beyond her grasp.

Until he touches her…

Chocolate, Dominique understands — from the biting tang of lime-caramel to the most complex infusions of jasmine, lemon-thyme, and cayenne. But this shy, freckled American who sits alone in his salon, quietly sampling his exquisite confections as if she can’t get enough of them — enough of him — is something else. She has secrets too, he can tell. Of course if she really knew him, she would run.

Yet once you have spotted your heart’s true craving, simply looking is no longer enough…

A draft of my review for The Chocolate Touch has been sitting on my dashboard for weeks. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t find the right words to describe what it’s like to be immersed in Laura Florand’s delectable version of Paris. But let me try. What I love about the Amour et Chocolat books is that even though each book features a French chef or chocolatier, their personalities are so distinct that reading about them never gets boring. Plus I feel like the writing in each has a different tone – The Chocolate Thief is deliciously entertaining, The Chocolate Kiss is whimsical with magic realism feel to it while The Chocolate Touch has such a sweet and endearing romance. This latest installment in the series is filled with warmth that’s very comforting, like drinking hot chocolate on a rainy day. Kind of similar to how Jaime visits Dom’s chocolaterie everyday, consuming his creations and letting them revive her both physically and emotionally. I liked the contrast between Dom and Jaime – how he initially felt that he’s such a brute compared to how delicate she looks and that he has to be careful with how he treats her. But appearances can be deceiving and Jaime has a core of steel that makes her the perfect match for Dom. I had so much fun reading about the tentative nature of how they got to know each other. Both of them have complicated pasts and there’s a reason for why they feel like they don’t have much to offer (even though they both think the world of the other person). Here’s a snippet that I particularly liked:

He didn’t talk, but a man who had Paris in the springtime didn’t need to talk. Better not. Better just to concentrate on the cool breeze off the river, stirring his shaggy black hair, the bridges that stretched away through the centuries, that fresh young green on the trees along the quays. Evening was falling later and later. The sun was only starting to set now, easy blurred shades of pink and gold and gray through low strips of clouds. The sky above them was blue, clear, but blurring toward gray. Half the world looked in love, couples strolling hand in hand along the Seine. At the edge of that sunset, in the west, far away along the river that simmered with pink and gold, the Eiffel Tower rose, gentled by the low haze.

Lovely writing right there. Laura Florand sure knows how to set a scene. And write mouth-watering descriptions of chocolates, caramels and pastries. Just thinking about them is making me hungry, I may have to hunt down some desserts tomorrow. Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed is seeing how Dom and Jaime relate to their friends and family. It was nice to see characters from the earlier novels, especially the members of the Corey family. They’re just too funny. If you’re a contemporary romance reader and you’ve never read any of Laura Florand’s books, then you must give them a try as soon as you can. Highly recommended for fans of chocolates, Paris and romance. It goes without saying that I cannot wait for the next book in this wonderful series. To get a better idea of The Chocolate Touch’s setting, check out the author’s pictures of the real-life chocolatier who inspired the book.

Reading order of the Amour et Chocolat books:
All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate
The Chocolate Thief
The Chocolate Kiss
The Chocolate Rose

The Chocolate Touch ebook

Other reviews:
Angieville
See Michelle Read
A Girl, Books and Other Things
Smexy Books

Novel Gossip: The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand

My good friend Michelle and I had fun doing a discussion type of review for Northlander and The King Commands by Meg Burden last year so we decided to do it again. We also thought it would be a good idea to make it a regular feature, alternating the posts in my blog and hers. Ladies and gentlemen, we now present you with our shiny, new feature called Novel Gossip.

Novel Gossip

The bloggers behind Chachic’s Book Nook and See Michelle Read chatting about books, thousands of miles apart.

We both love Laura Florand’s writing so for our first Novel Gossip discussion, we decided to read The Chocolate Rose together. This conversation happened in the span of a few days and some spoilery bits have been deleted.

The Chocolate RoseChachic: I really enjoyed the first few chapters. I wanted to start reading it right away because I curious but I only meant to read maybe a chapter or two and then for our readalong to continue. I read until chapter 8 and it’s a good thing I was able to stop myself from continuing. I like how we dove right into the story and we got to meet the two main characters right away. I found their first meeting hilarious. It’s funny how Gabriel is pretty clueless about women and has no idea how to react around Jolie. I’m really curious how the issue of Jolie’s father copying recipes will be resolved.

Michelle: So far, so good here as well. I agree, I like how the action immediately starts up and that we get into their ‘drama’ from the get go. I’m interested to see how Ms. Florand will handle Gabriel’s overt response to Jolie. If Ms. Florand pushes that too much, I feel like Gabriel might wind up just as another boring alpha male pounding his chest every time Jolie is near. But honestly, I really can’t see the author not giving him some softer parts (he is the one who created that lovely chocolate rose, you know). She always does such a great job making her male heroes multi-layered. And boy, do I ever WANT TO TRY SOME OF HIS FOOD.

Chachic: Yes, exactly. I love how all of Laura Florand’s male characters have softer sides and that aspect of their personality comes out in their creations. Can’t wait to see Gabriel cook for Jolie. I really don’t think we have to worry about Gabriel being and alpha male with no dimensions, I like that some background about him has already been shown – how he worked his butt off for Jolie’s dad but never get any recognition for all his hard work.

Michelle: I’m not really a fan of Jolie’s family at all. Her sisters seem selfish and her father, he doesn’t seem like a nice man either. I wonder too how she’s going to play out their relationship where the lawsuit is concerned.

Chachic: I’m not a fan of Jolie’s family either. Her dad seems like a jerk who only cares about himself and his work. And her sisters aren’t any better. I hope we get to see them in a better light but we’ll see.

Michelle: The back-n-forth dialog between Gabriel and Jolie is definitely my favorite part so far, especially how they keep mistaking each other’s meanings. The double entendres, they are a-plentiful.

Chachic: As always, I’m enjoying the tension between the two characters. It will be fun to see it all play out. I agree that it’s funny how they keep misunderstanding each other.

Michelle: And gee, can we talk about setting?! I feel like I’m walking along the streets of South France and seeing all those lovely flowers in bloom while the old ladies take their evening walk.

Chachic: The setting is lovely too! I love how the town (or city?) has been described so far, with its fountains and flowers. Seems like such a good place to take a vacation and relax. I think it’s great that Laura is highlighting various places in France for her novels. If I can’t go to France, at least I can read about it.

Michelle: I know! One of my favorite parts so far is actually from Chapter One where it is describing the different stages of love.

“In the fresh hope of new lovers clinging to each other, in the easy comfort of lovers of longer standing who lounged in chairs by each other reading, in the old, worn happiness of a white-haired couple walking hand in hand, whose love for each other had been used and worked like fifty-year-old shoes into something so exactly fitted to them that those bright new lovers wouldn’t recognize it in their high-heeled love. But oh, how they would be grateful for it, fifty years on, if they reached that perfect fit, too.”

Michelle: Let’s just say I gave a major le sigh after I read that chapter. I just love her way with words, don’t you?

Chachic: Haha we are such good friends, I highlighted that exact same passage in my Kindle because it stood out for me. I wanted to hug that section of the book. I hope we get more sections like it!

Michelle: I love it that you highlighted it too! I read that and thought “Man, THAT is the type of love I want after 50 years.” She just gets love and relationships and I really like her storytelling abilities.

Chachic: I want that kind of love too! She really just has a way with words. I’m so glad we discovered a new author to love. And that we feel the same way about her writing.

The Chocolate Rose ebook

Chachic: Let’s talk about Jolie’s work, I’m glad we’re reading about a character who writes cookbooks for a living. I’ve always seen cookbooks featuring celebrity chefs in bookstores but never realized that a product like that involves collaboration between a chef and a writer. If I was any good at writing recipes, that would be an amazing job. As always, I love how passionate Laura’s characters are about what they do. I find passionate people fascinating, even more so when they’ve found their calling in life.

Michelle: I could totally see you as a cookbook writer! You are always posting great meals and treats you’ve gotten. I too like that Jolie wants to keep that part of her life separate and just for herself because she truly loves it. I find that most of the women in Ms. Florand’s books are quite driven and I appreciate it that they don’t totally freeze their lives for a relationship. Although they do eventually learn to make sacrifices when it counts.

Chachic: Aww seriously, you think I can be a cookbook writer? But I think you have to be a good cook in order to do that, because you’d have to have an idea of how easy or difficult the recipes would be. I’m hopeless in the kitchen. I like that Jolie is independent enough and secure in herself that she can spend time on her own, it fits in perfectly with Gabriel’s busy schedule. Although you’re right, both of them make sacrifices to make things work.

Michelle: I honestly didn’t even think that being a cookbook writer was a ‘thing’ until reading this book and you saying that it would be a cool job. Goes to show how clueless I am! I guess I figured the chefs just wrote down their recipes and that was it but it makes sense that food bloggers/writers would do a great job of making them more accessible to the general public. As for me, I love to cook – especially bake. I’m still waiting for Ms. Florand to write a book about a bakery and all that delicious bread cause that is my weakness. In fact, in between writing you tonight I made four loaves of French bread (this is my kryptonite and why I will never diet)!

Michelle's bread

Chachic: I found this passage really sweet:

“She might have to revisit her conviction that all the best textures and tastes and scents in the world were in food. His textures – the hard resilience of muscle, the soft cotton of his T-shirt, the smoothness of his skin, the silk of his hair, the whisper of roughness of a jaw shaved that morning – were incredible.”

Michelle: I remember the quote you mentioned and really liked it too. Here are a few I found.

“Maybe no one rose to greatness of any kind without being a narcissist. And no one rose to become a great chef without knowing how to make other people hungry. For more of them.”

Michelle: I think Ms. Florand really gets what it takes for someone to dedicate themselves so totally to something that it completely overshadows the rest of their life. And then conversely, the letdown that occurs when that talent or career is over and the depression that follows. It’s got to be awful. Which leads into this other section I liked, it’s really the only bit of sympathy I feel for her dad.

“Jolie tried to hide the profound sadness that winced through her whenever someone refereed to her father in the past tense, as if he was either no longer alive at all or, at best, he no longer deserved to call himself by his own name. No wonder her father believed the same thing.”

Chachic: I highlighted that quote as well – it’s a good one. I think you’re right, Laura does know what it’s like for a job or career or passion to take up so much space in a person’s life to the point where everything else – including family and friends – get pushed back. I admire people who are passionate but there really is a balance to it.

(TRANSITION)

Michelle: I just finished it — but it’s late here so the only thing I can say before I go crash is — she made a The Lord of the Rings joke!! I knew I loved this woman’s books!! Ha!

Chachic: Loved the LOTR reference as well. I knew you would notice that! That’s the beauty of doing a read along, there’s someone else who will be able to relate to details that you notice.

Michelle: I was a bit curious about the name choice of Jolie — which in French means ‘pretty or attractive’. Most of her books have been pretty accurate but I wonder if that is a common name in France cause it just seemed a funny choice to me — even though I liked it.

Chachic: Really? I had no idea that’s what Jolie meant. What were the meanings of the names of her other heroines? Have you noticed that all of her heroines so far have partly come from the States? I think that’s so the books won’t be too French, if that makes sense.

Michelle: As for the names: Malagie (from The Chocolate Kiss) is pretty French but Cade Corey (The Chocolate Thief) is obviously a play on the Hershey chocolate family (there is an actual town called Hershey, Pennsylvania where that family lives and has their factory), so I think hers is pretty Americanized and even a bit of a joke. Honestly, I’m glad all of Ms. Florand’s females have a bit American in them because the French really are so very different (especially at relationships) so I think it helps people relate to the characters more than when they are so completely foreign. Although it would be a nice change of pace to have the hero American and the heroine French.

Chachic: I figured that Corey was a play on Hershey. I knew there was a place in the US named after the family. Oh really? I had no idea that French dating would be very different compared to American ways. So maybe that’s why Laura makes her female characters grow up in the States. I would love to see a French female and American male as well, that would be a nice change.

Michelle: I don’t know if I ever told you but I studied French all through college and even spent a few weeks there on a study abroad (Paris, Nice and Dijon) so I absolutely love reading about all the varying touristy sites I went to. One place I never got to was Provence so I would love to one day go there as well. Although I do have a confession to make: I’ve never tried a French macaron and I am *dying* to! This book made me think of it again when Jolie talks about using Phillipe’s macaron recipe for her cookbook. I don’t know why I didn’t try one in France (I was prolly too busy eating all the chocolate and bread I could) but I so want to go back just for that almost. I know you like macarons – I should find a good bakery in LA that serves them sometime 🙂

Chachic: I never knew that about you! That must have been so cool, studying French and then going abroad to soak up the culture for a couple of weeks. I would have loved to do that. So does that mean you have a special place in your heart for French-themed books? I like reading about them because I’ve always wanted to visit Paris. I can’t believe you’ve never tried a macaron! I love macarons. Several restaurants here in Singapore sell them but not all of them are good. I hope you get to try one soon. Pretty sure macarons are available in LA.

TWG macarons

Michelle: One thing that bugged me about this one was the formatting! Did you have issues with the fact that there were no spaces or marks to indicate that it was a new narrator? Sometimes I had to go back just to figure out who was speaking. It’s totally minor but I wish they would have done something to mark the flow for readers so it wasn’t always such an abrupt change. But maybe that’s just me 🙂

Chachic: Yes, the formatting bugged me as well! I ignored it the first time it happened and then I kept noticing that there aren’t any breaks in between sections, even when the POV changes. It got a bit confusing. I think it’s just a formatting issue – the extra spaces probably aren’t showing up in the Kindle edition.

Michelle: I’m glad I wasn’t the only one bugged with the formatting. I wasn’t sure if it was due to the fact that it was self-published that there were quirks that would normally have been ironed out by the publisher or what.

Michelle: So did you read the first chapter of The Chocolate Touch at the end of The Chocolate Rose? I’m all aflutter.

Chachic: I’ve read the first chapter of The Chocolate Touch when Laura posted it on her website. I really can’t wait to read it. I hope it goes up in NetGalley soon!

____________________________

There you have it, folks, our first Novel Gossip post! In conclusion, it’s pretty obvious that we enjoyed reading The Chocolate Rose, which isn’t surprising since we both loved the other novels in the Amour Et Chocolat series. Can’t wait to read more of Laura Florand’s writing. Stand by for more Novel Gossip discussions, the next one will be posted over at Michelle’s blog. Feel free to let us know what you think of this new feature.

with Michelle of See Michelle Read

Chachic and Michelle, March 2013 in Los Angeles

Reading order of the Amour et Chocolat books:
All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate
The Chocolate Thief
The Chocolate Kiss
The Chocolate Rose

All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand

Kiss the BrideAll’s Fair in Love and Chocolate is a novella from the Kiss the Bride anthology. I read this after reading the two Amour Et Chocolat novels: The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss. All three stories are loosely tied together in the sense that they’re about the top chocolatiers/dessert-makers of Paris but each book is about a different couple. I couldn’t get enough of Laura Florand’s writing so I gobbled up these novels (and one novella) one right after the other.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Going undercover as a bride-to-be, food blogger Eloise Layne is determined to learn charismatic French chocolatier Simon Casset’s famously guarded secrets. But somehow her man of mystery is succeeding in uncovering her every desire, one smoldering kiss at a time.

Ellie is a food blogger, a girl after my own heart! There was a time when I was considering creating a food blog because I enjoy eating good food. You would know this if you follow me on Instagram because I mostly post pictures of food and books over there. At that time, I thought it would be fun to feature the restaurants that I tried in Manila (and now Singapore) but since I already had a book blog, I didn’t think I could maintain another blog. Isn’t it awesome that Laura Florand has a main character who is a blogger? I can definitely relate to Ellie because of that.

“It helped her, the blog, made her feel that when she flung herself out there to the world, well – the world liked her.”

I admire Ellie for her actions because blogging and pursuing your passion is something that I would love to do as well. She takes the huge risk in moving to Paris because she’s always dreamed of living there, knowing that it’s filled with places that would be a joy to discover for a food blogger like her. She’s the type of person who pours all of herself in everything that she does. Very enthusiastic and full of life, she draws the attention of Simon Casset, one of the top chocolatiers of Paris. It’s like a dream come true for her to meet him, discuss his work and get a peek inside his laboratoire. I like how Simon thinks of himself as a nerdy and anal chocolate-maker while Ellie sees him as an artist who creates whimsical works of art. It was so much fun reading about these two characters and watching their love story unfold. Here’s a sample of some of the beautiful words from this novella:

“A longing to taste what she had heard so much about, and what was physically so beautiful. She gestured helplessly toward the half-finished structure, so magical, as if something as earthbound as food could be transmorphed into an airy grace that touched the sky. He made her feel like she could fly. Like it was all worth it. Eating. Life. This was the kind of thing you lived for. Right?”

Yep, that is the kind of thing you lived for. Short and sweet, All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate is a perfect sample for anyone who wants a bite of Laura Florand’s delicious writing. I still prefer the two full-length Amour Et Chocolat novels over this one just because the romance has more depth. Read this if you’d like to give Laura Florand a try but you’re not sure if you’re willing to commit to reading a novel. This is a good novella for a relaxing afternoon or evening, paired with a chocolate dessert.

Renga chocolate cake

Also, just a heads up to fellow Laura Florand fans out there, The Chocolate Rose has just been released in Kindle format! If you’ve been waiting to devour another book from Laura, then hurry and grab a copy of this one. I’m planning to read it as soon as I can.

The Chocolate Rose

The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand

The Chocolate Kiss is the second book in Laura Florand’s Amour Et Chocolat series. Featuring top chocolatiers in Paris, these books focus on hot guys who make delectable desserts. What’s not to like? I loved The Chocolate Thief, the first book in the series, so I dove right into this one after finishing that. The books don’t have to be read in order, they’re standalone stories since they’re about different couples although Cade and Sylvain (the leads in The Chocolate Thief) have cameos in this one. I would like to note that one of my favorite restaurants when I was in college was The Chocolate Kiss Cafe. If I was in Manila, I would have visited the place after reading this book.

Here’s the summary from Laura Florand’s website:

The Chocolate KissWelcome to La Maison des Sorcieres. Where the window display is an enchanted forest of sweets, a collection of conical hats delights the eye and the habitués nibble chocolate witches from fanciful mismatched china. While in their tiny blue kitchen, Magalie Chaudron and her two aunts stir wishes into bubbling pots of heavenly chocolat chaud.

But no amount of wishing will rid them of interloper Philippe Lyonnais, who has the gall to open one of his world-famous pastry shops right down the street. Philippe’s creations seem to hold a magic of their own, drawing crowds of beautiful women to their little isle amidst the Seine, and tempting even Magalie to venture out of her ivory tower and take a chance, a taste… a kiss.

In case I haven’t mentioned it often enough here on the blog, let me say this again: I love macarons. And the male lead in The Chocolate Kiss makes amazing, world-renowned macarons. Sigh, if only I could grab a bite straight out of the book’s pages. Philippe’s artistic creations seemed not only beautiful but deliciously mouth-watering as well. Same with Magalie’s rich hot chocolate, with wishes stirred in specifically for the person the drink is meant for. Magalie seems to know exactly what a person needs, be it courage to seize the day or strength of spirit to handle life’s burdens. With that idea as well as the name of their tea room, La Maison des Sorcieres (The Witches’ House), the whole novel has a whimsical touch to it that makes it feel more like magic realism instead of contemporary romance. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. Magalie was a character that I could easily relate to. She loves her little corner of Paris but has a hard time adjusting how the rest of the city makes her feel. So she arms herself with stylish outfits that make her feel stronger about facing the world outside their tea room. Here’s a passage that particularly resonated with me, I hope it’s not too spoilery to share it:

You couldn’t cure loneliness by wallowing in it, up above the world, on an island far removed from everything. She knew that. But she had such a hard time with all the cures. They seemed rough and brusque and brutal, as if they abused her skin with a pot scrubber, things like trying to go out with men she barely knew, or dancing in Paris nightclubs, or hanging out with friends in bars over in that world past the banks of the river.

She had been something of a party creature in her high schools, still was one to dance all night at New Year’s celebrations or weddings when she went back to Provence, but there was something harsher about dancing here, forcing herself into a mass of people, stranger among strangers. Occasionally, one of her friends from the university, the longest continuous friendship she had ever had, could talk her into it. But it was much more tempting to curl up with a book under her thick white comforter.

Still, sometimes after she curled up, she regretted her lack of courage and felt bleakly lonely.

It was important to have a really good book.

Yes, it’s really important to have a good book. The Chocolate Kiss can definitely be classified as one of those good books. I wouldn’t have minded giving up a night out with friends to stay in and read this novel. In fact, I did stay up later than usual to finish reading this, even though I had to get up early for work the next day. I thought the romance between Magalie and Philippe was done very well, there was obvious attraction between them that they kept denying so the tension just built up. I thought it was funny how they kept tempting each other with their specialties – Philippe with his macarons and Magalie with her hot chocolate – and how they both refuse to try and sample each other’s work even though everyone else is raving about them. It’s a symbol of how they can’t let the other person gain the upper hand by admitting that they even want a taste. And when they finally give in? Well, you just have to read the book and find out. Similar to The Chocolate Thief, I really enjoyed reading about the secondary characters in this story. I like how the romance isn’t just about the two leads but also about the people important in their lives as well as the work that they’re passionate about. Another excellent installment in Laura Florand’s romantic chocolate series. I think it’s pretty much a given that I’m excited to read The Chocolate Touch. Counting down the weeks until it becomes available.

Bakerzin macarons

Other reviews:
A Girl, Books and Other Things
Smexy Books
Dear Author
Nooks & Crannies