Cover Reveal: A Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand

If you have been following my blog for a while, then you would know that I’m a huge Laura Florand fangirl. She’s an auto-read author for me ever since I discovered and fell in love with The Chocolate Thief back in 2013. I’m a (slightly) bigger fan of her La vie en Roses series set in Provence and featuring a family that has been in the perfume business for generations. Two of the earlier books in the series, Once Upon a Rose and A Wish Upon Jasmine, were included in my best of 2015 list so I’m pretty excited to read the next installment. I’m also itching to reread a novella in the series, A Rose in Winter, because it’s such a charming story set during Christmastime in the South of France. The next book in the series will be released early next year, and the cover and premise have been shared just this week:

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A Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand
Book 3 – La Vie en Roses – on sale February 2016

Laura Florand, bestselling author of The Chocolate Kiss, combines lush description, smart dialogue, provocative sensuality, and the perfume of love itself in A Crown of Bitter Orange, an irresistibly lush novel that is an ode to the scents and pleasures of the south of France and the beauty of falling in love.

A Crown of Bitter Orange

Childhood friends. Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life.

Lifelong enemies. Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help.

Or the perfect match? They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?

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Laura FlorandABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Florand burst on the contemporary romance scene in 2012 with her award-winning Amour et Chocolat series. Her international bestselling books have appeared in ten languages, been named among the Best Books of the Year by Romantic Times and Barnes & Noble, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

After a Fulbright year in Tahiti and backpacking everywhere from New Zealand to Greece, and several years living in Madrid and Paris, Laura now teaches Romance Studies at Duke University. Contrary to popular opinion, this means she primarily teaches French language and culture and does a great deal of research on French gastronomy, particularly chocolate. For more information, please see her website: http://www.lauraflorand.com.

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I can’t wait to read this book! I had initially thought that the next book would have a title like Love in Lavender or something like that, but I’m not picky. It would be interesting to find out what the significance of bitter orange in the story is. I think the cover is beautiful and I’m loving the redesign of the earlier books to match this one. Behold the prettiness:

Once Upon a Rose redesign A Wish Upon Jasmine redesign

What do you think of these new covers? Do you like them as much as I do? If you haven’t read any of Laura Florand’s books, you should definitely get started on them as soon as you can.

Coming Soon: A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand

One of my favorite contemporary romance authors is Laura Florand. Her next release will be the second installment in the La vie en Roses series and will be called A Wish Upon Jasmine. Her post about the cover, premise and first chapter excerpt can be found here. I’ve read the excerpt and it’s so good! I think I now have an idea of what the fairytale inspiration will be in this book. 🙂 Nice play on the character’s name if I’m right.

I loved Once Upon a Rose and it’s one of my favorite reads this year so I’m pretty excited that we’re getting another Provence book soon. I thought we’d have to wait until next year!

A Wish Upon Jasmine

Ruthless.
That was what they said about Damien Rosier. Handsome. Wealthy. Powerful. Merciless. No one messed with his family, because to do so they would have to get through him. No one thought he had a heart. Not even the woman he gave his to.

Cynical.
That was what they said about Jasmin Bianchi. A top perfumer of her generation, Jess had achieved commercial success by growing a protective shell over a tender heart. The one time she cracked it open to let Damien in, he crushed it—after a night of unbelievable passion.

Lovers.
That one magical night couldn’t survive the harsh light of dawn. When Jess woke up to discover the man in bed beside her had stolen her company, she fled.

Enemies.
Now she’s come to the south of France with a threat to his family heritage. If he wants to reclaim both it and the woman who walked away from him, he’s going to have to fight as dirty as only Damien can.

But Jess knows how to fight dirty, too. And these days, she has nothing left to lose.

Certainly not her heart.

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Doesn’t that look interesting? On her Facebook page, Laura posted cover ideas before finally settling on this particular cover design. I think it’s looks good because it matches the cover of Once Upon a Rose. I also like how the titles focus on a specific flower – rose and jasmine. Maybe the next ones will be something about lavender or lily of the valley or violet. Or mimosa! I had a Fragonard perfume that was mimosa scented. I guess we just have to wait and see. 🙂

Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

I think if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Laura Florand’s writing. I discovered the first two books in her Amour et Chocolat series in March 2013 and I’ve been devouring her books since then. Last year, I even organized a blog event called Amour et Florand to celebrate her books. Once Upon a Rose is one of my highly anticipated releases for 2015 especially since I loved A Rose in Winter, a novella that introduced me to the Rosier family. I loved reading about the Rosiers and their home in Grasse so when Laura offered a review copy of Once Upon a Rose, I jumped at the chance to read it as soon as I can. This happened a few months ago and I just haven’t been able to work on a review for it until now. I’m so behind on reviews!

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Once Upon a RoseShe stole his roses.

Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out rock star Layla—“Belle”—Dubois seeks refuge in the south of France. That old, half-forgotten heritage in a valley of roses seems like a good place to soothe a wounded heart. She certainly doesn’t expect the most dangerous threat to her heart to pounce on her as soon as she sets foot on the land.

He wants them back.

Matt didn’t mean to growl at her quite that loudly. But—his roses! She can’t have his roses. Even if she does have all those curls and green eyes and, and, and…what was he growling about again?

Or maybe he just wants her.

When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.

It might involve kissing.

While I was in the middle of Once Upon a Rose, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to read it slowly so I can savor the words or to gulp it all down in one go because it was just so good. Laura Florand is amazing at making the scenes leapt out of the page. So much so that you feel like you’ve traveled to Paris or Grasse just by reading her books. I’m always delighted by books that have such a strong sense of place because they let me travel just by reading. I also love how she focuses on the senses – with tastes and textures in her Amour et Chocolat series, and with scents and sounds in Once Upon a Rose. With Matt as the heir apparent for the Rosier perfume business, he knows everything there is to know about the fragrance industry. Layla, a musician struggling with creative burnout, finds solace in the Rosier valley when she unexpectedly inherits a house there. I enjoyed reading about the sweet and tentative romance that blossomed between Matt and Layla, from their hilarious first meeting until the beautiful ending of the book. I loved how careful they are of each other, showing a wariness that developed from past romantic mistakes. Matt is a big marshmallow who tries to hide his soft side by being all growly and grumpy but Layla was able to see through him right away. A snippet that I loved:

“You always do that,” he murmured. “It’s as if you take everything I know, wrap it up in wonder, and hand it back to me like this bright, shiny new present. It’s like my whole life is Christmas when you’re looking at it.”

I loved how present Matt’s cousins are in this story. It’s so much fun to see them tease and annoy the hell out of each other but at the end of the day, they’re always there whenever one of them needs help. I also thought it was endearing how vulnerable Matt is when it comes to his family – how he tries to hide his weaknesses to let them see that he’s a strong leader. And yet his cousins are actually aware of what he’s really like. I just think it’s great that the Rosier guys were involved in Matt and Layla’s romance. While Layla’s family isn’t as big as Matt’s, she does have a strong connection with her mom. It’s always nice when the romance isn’t the sole focus of a book (even if it is a romance novel). It’s much more realistic to see the relationships that MCs have with their families or friends instead of having one person as their entire world. I also really liked the contrast between Matt’s rootedness in the valley vs. Layla’s life as a traveling musician. Matt knows that his rightful place is at the stronghold of their family’s business while Layla has never had a permanent home of her own. It was interesting to see how their different experiences shaped who they are now. Once Upon a Rose is a strong start to the La Vie en Roses series and I can’t wait to read the next book featuring a Rosier hero. It would be so much fun to dive back into this Provencal world filled with the sweet scent of roses. I know this wouldn’t come as a surprise but I’m happy to announce that Once Upon a Rose is now firmly placed in my best of 2015 shelf.

My Instagram shot of my copy: Once Upon a Rose

Other reviews:
By Singing Light
From Cover to Cover
Girl Meets Books
Smexy Books

Amour et Florand: A Strong Sense of Place

Amour et Florand

Thank you to everyone who participated in Amour et Florand, through guest posts, posts in your own blogs or comments. Merci beaucoup! The past few days have been pretty hectic for me so I still need to catch up on replying to comments. I know the blog event is finished but I had this post in mind and I couldn’t let it go, I hope the rest of you don’t mind that I’m posting it a few days late.

There are many reasons to love Laura Florand’s novels. Some of them have been discussed in detail in the other Amour et Florand guest posts. You can’t really go wrong with the combination of France, chocolate and hot guys, right? For this post, I want to focus on the strong sense of place in her writing. In her guest post for last year’s EWein Special Ops, Elizabeth Wein talked about how she loves books that have a strong sense of place. Here’s a snippet of what she said:

The world almost becomes a character in the novel itself. Setting shouldn’t just be there as a backdrop; a good sense of place will make a setting, fictionally speaking, into a living, breathing organism like our own planet, and the author’s love for and familiarity with the world of his or her creation guides us through the unfamiliar landscape like a virtual map.

EWein was actually talking about fantasy worlds when she wrote that bit but I think it’s applicable to the settings in Laura’s books: Paris for her Amour et Chocolat novels and Grasse for her La Vie en Roses series. Laura vividly describes these places to the point where you feel like you had a mini-vacation in France after reading her books. The sights, the scents and the sounds – all of these just pop out of the page to make the reader feel like you’re right there with the characters. I love how she describes the cobblestone streets, the old buildings and the bridges of Paris as well as the fountains and plazas or public squares in Provence. I know that she travels to France on a regular basis but even just by reading her books, I could tell that she’s done her research. In fact, she knows her stuff so well that you can use her books as guides when you travel to France. I knew France was famous for its pastries and desserts but I don’t think I would have known that chocolate was such a big deal there if I hadn’t read the Amour et Florand books. I was also not aware that Grasse is the perfume capital of the world until it was described as such in Laura’s writing. For someone who loves both chocolate and perfumes, I feel like I know a little more about these because of Laura’s novels.

One of my favorite quotes from The Chocolate Touch is this:

“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.”

Because I like how Laura describes Paris and Grasse as places that are beautiful and charming, sometimes even magical, but she balances that with realism. We see it in the way her heroines feel intimidated by the city, and in how they become homesick or lonely but are too scared to go out and explore unknown places by themselves. Cade feels like this and is also annoyed with how sleazy men keep trying to hit on her because she’s a woman walking around by herself. Magalie feels smaller and less like herself the farther she ventures out of her island, even though she armors herself with fashionable clothes. Allegra falls in love with Grasse when she first encounters it but then becomes miserable as winter sets in and she doesn’t have the warmth of her family to wrap herself in. Summer hates Paris, especially the Eiffel Tower, and wouldn’t even visit the city if she wasn’t being forced by her parents. I feel like these descriptions and situations make the setting feel even more authentic because even the most beautiful place will still have its imperfections.

I’m very grateful that I got to go to France last April (first ever trip to Europe!) and I hope everyone who has ever dreamed of going there will get the chance to visit. I have shared pictures from my recent trip in my Snapshot From a Book posts here and here but to wrap up Amour et Florand, I want to share more shots that made me think of Laura’s books.

In my first few hours in Paris, I was able to visit a chocolatier:
Chachic in front of Paris chocolatier chocolatier in Paris

Laduree has branches in Singapore but not in Manila so we still dropped by their Paris store:
Laduree in Paris

I saw the Meilleur Ouvrier de France sign and told my friends we should go in because according to the Amour et Chocolat books, this shop will have excellent products. I thought their macarons were better than Laduree’s:
Georges Larnicol Georges Larnicol macarons

Not quite like Magalie’s but this a chocolat chaud that I ordered from one of the restaurants in Paris (no, I didn’t feel any different after drinking it):
chocolat chaud

The Eiffel Tower, of course:
Paris - Eiffel1 Paris - Eiffel2

Cobblestone streets of Montmartre:
Lomo - Montmartre

Gare de Lyon, the train station where Magalie meets her mother, who is traveling from Ithaca, New York back to Provence:
Gare de Lyon lomo

We visited Aix-en-Provence in the South of France and we really wanted to visit Grasse from there but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do so. The way Laura describes Grasse in her La Vie en Roses books reminded me a bit of Aix so I thought I would share some of my Aix pictures.

Fountains in Aix:
Lomo Aix Rotonde
Aix-en-Provence - four dolphins fountain Aix-en-Provence - fountain at night

Santons, terracotta nativity scene figurines, which were mentioned in A Rose in Winter:
Aix-en-Provence - santons

Lavender and roses:
Aix-en-Provence - lavender Aix-en-Provence - roses

Artisan perfumes made in Grasse:
Aix - perfumes from Grasse

Hope you all have fun browsing through these pictures!

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Links to Amour et Florand posts:
How did you discover Laura’s books?
Guest post from Michelle of See Michelle Read: Super Scholarly Thesis on The Addictive Properties of The Amour et Chocolat Series
Guest post from Holly of Book Harbinger: The Chocolat Awards
Guest post from Rachel Neumeier: Making Great Characterization Look Easy
Guest post from Angie of Angieville
Guest post from Laura Florand
Guest post from Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile: My Gateway to Contemporary Romance
Guest post from Maureen of By Singing Light
Guest post from Mandi of Smexy Books
Guest post from Nalini Singh: My first Laura Florand book (or how Laura Florand ate my weekend)

Amour et Florand posts in other blogs:
Genre Hopping: Five Things I love About Laura Florand’s Books
Pakwanstripes: Laura and the Five Senses
Pakwanstripes: Learning from Turning Up The Heat
Girl meets Books: 10 Things I Love About Laura Florand’s Books

A Rose in Winter by Laura Florand

No Place Like HomeA Rose in Winter by Laura Florand is a novella in the No Place Like Home anthology. It’s set during Christmastime in Grasse, in the south of France. I read and loved it last December but wasn’t able to review it. I recently reread it on my flight back to Singapore because I wanted to be reminded of Aix-en-Provence and this is the closest that I could get because I haven’t read any novels set in Aix. At least Aix and Grasse are in the same region!

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Allegra Caldron knew the rule never to talk to strangers. But on a cold winter night in Provence, she breaks that rule – and more – with an irresistible man. Raoul Rosier seems thrillingly dangerous, yet why does Allegra feel so safe with him – even when she believes he’s a thief?

If Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series is all about chocolate then her La Vie en Roses series is all about perfume. Each of the La Vie en Roses books feature a Rosier cousin. The Rosier clan own and control a significant portion of the world’s perfume business through their company. A Rose in Winter is Raoul’s story. Raoul has spent several years in Africa, establishing his family’s foothold in that region, and is itching to settle back home in Provence where the familiar scents of lavender, rose and jasmine will calm his restless soul. Laura’s writing style paints a vivid picture of the settings of her stories. She makes Grasse seem like such a charming and beautiful place. It’s not surprising that Allegra fell in love with it and decided to stay a while. Given that A Rose in Winter is a novella instead of a full-length novel, the romance gets developed pretty quickly. After all, Allegra’s mom said it best:

Quote from A Rose in Winter

What was Allegra supposed to do when she meets someone she can’t resist? I still felt that there was enough character development in the short span of time that Allegra and Raoul got to know each other. It wasn’t just their attraction that was the focus of the story but also their insecurities and how those affect their budding romance. I loved the Christmas setting of the story and how we get an idea of what a traditional Provencal Christmas is like. I liked how santons, terracotta nativity scene figurines that are only available in Provence, play an important role in the story. I also enjoyed seeing a little bit of the Rosier clan during their Christmas dinner. A Rose in Winter is a delightful installment in the La Vie en Roses series. I really can’t wait to read the next books and find out more about the other members of the Rosier family. Similar to Laura’s other books, there are hints of a particular fairy tale included within the story. Part of the fun in reading Laura’s books is trying to determine what fairy tale is being alluded to so I’ll let the rest of you discover that for yourselves. Prior to reading this, I wasn’t aware that Grasse is the perfume capital of the world. Now I want to visit the place and immerse myself in the world of artisan perfumeries. I ended A Rose in Winter on a happy sigh, dreaming of flying back to France to visit Grasse this time. I would probably end up buying several bottles of perfume if that ever happens.

Aix-en-Provence - santons

Santons in Aix-en-Provence

Europe 2014: Aix-en-Provence Update

Bonjour again! We started our trip in Paris then traveled by train to Barcelona and then back again to France for a few days in Aix-en-Provence, a city in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. I loved Aix-en-Provence and it’s probably my favorite city out of the four that we visited mainly because I felt like I could live there. I like the small city charm of the place and how everything is within walking distance, although some places take a bit of a walk. It’s also only 30 minutes away from a big city, Marseille (which sadly, we didn’t get to explore). I liked that we were able to stumble upon quaint shops just by walking all over Aix. Plus, there were some pretty good restaurants which served good food at more affordable prices compared to Paris. It was expected that Musee Granet would have paintings of Cezanne since he lived in Aix but we were surprised that they also had paintings by Ingres, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso.

I don’t think there are that many books specifically set in Aix-en-Provence so I’m broadening the scope to the whole region of Provence. Would love to read more books set in the south of France.

Books I’ve read set in Provence:
La Vie en Roses series by Laura Florand – Turning Up the Heat, The Chocolate Rose, A Rose in Winter

Books set in Provence that are in my TBR pile:
Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart

Aix has been referred to as the city of a thousand fountains and yes, we came across a lot of them:
Aix-en-Provence - La Rotonde Aix-en-Provence - mossy fountain Aix-en-Provence - four dolphins fountain Aix-en-Provence - modern fountain Aix-en-Provence - fountain at night Aix-en-Provence - more fountains

Cours Mirabeau is the main road of Aix, framed by plane-trees on both sides. There are cafes, pastry shops, souvenir stores and old houses along this road.

Aix-en-Provence - Cours Mirabeau Aix-en-Provence - Cours Mirabeau2

I found a picture posted on Tumblr of the facade of Bibliothèque Méjanes so we decided to look it up while we were there because we were curious about the giant books in front of the library.

Aix-en-Provence - Bibliothèque Méjanes Aix-en-Provence - Bibliothèque Méjanes2

Some of the shops we loved:
Aix-en-Provence - Expressions Aix-en-Provence - Place aux Huiles Aix-en-Provence - real chocolate Aix-en-Provence - more chocolates

We discovered Le Bistro Latin on our first night, just by wandering and checking out menus of the restaurants. We loved the food so much that we decided to return on our last night, and get bigger courses.

Aix-en-Provence - Le Bistro Latin Aix-en-Provence - Le Bistro Latin2 Aix-en-Provence - first dinner Aix-en-Provence - last dinner

Lavender and roses:
Aix-en-Provence - lavender Aix-en-Provence - roses

We were planning to travel to Grasse, the perfume capital of France (and the world?) but it’s too far away from Aix for a day trip. Good thing artisan soaps and perfumes made from Grasse are available in Aix.

Aix - perfumes from Grasse

I feel like Aix is a hidden gem of a city because it’s not as well-known as other cities in the south of France. I’m so glad we included Aix in our itinerary. Have you been to Aix? Know of any novels set in Aix or the Provence region that you think I might enjoy?