Amour et Florand: My Gateway to Contemporary Romance

Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile is one of my trusted bloggers because we share similar tastes in young adult fantasy and contemporary (as evidenced by past guest posts that she’s done for EWein Special Ops and Marchetta Madness). I also think of her as an expert on middle grade fiction. I love what she has to say about Laura Florand’s books.

Here’s Brandy for Amour et Florand!

Random Musings of a Bibliophile2

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My Gateway to Contemporary Romance by Brandy

I began reading romance novels when I was in high school. They were an easy quick distraction from the heavier (often duller) required school reading. I was actually sort of known for it because they were the books I chose to bring to school with me every day for whenever I had a free moment to read-they were easy to slip in and out of-and it was quickly noticed that I had a different one every day. I read fast. I read A LOT of romances over those years. Most of them I don’t even remember, but they were all historical. For some reason I have always had a mental block when it comes to reading contemporary books. As a teacher I read plenty of them aimed for the elementary school set, but I never ventured into that genre in any other area. Melina Marchetta changed that in regards to YA literature. Laura Florand unlocked the world of adult contemporary romance for me.

What mainly attracted me to Florand’s books was Chachic talking about them constantly on Twitter. I know I can trust her. We have VERY similar taste in books. That in itself wouldn’t have been enough though. These books are about Paris. These books are about CHOCOLATE. And I love romance, but actually hadn’t tried a new author in quite some time. All those things worked together to make me want to read The Chocolate Thief. And then I really wanted to kick myself because what had I been missing out on? If THIS is what the world of contemporary romance was like, then I had been lacking some seriously good entertainment for years. It had been so long since found a new-to-me author I liked enough to want to binge read everything they had ever written, and boy did it feel good. At the time that was a total of three books, but I had found a new author to love and pre-order all the things she would write in the future. (Or buy as soon as she lets us know that’s possible.)

What is it about Florand’s books that captured me so fully? It is the way she combines all of my favorite elements into each and every one. Her characters are complex people. The have flaws and hard edges, weaknesses that are completely realistic. I love how she shows how difficult it can be to fit two strong people with all their baggage and life expectations together into a partnership that works for both of them. And she does it with it humor. There is excellent dialogue in her books. The banter is top-notch, and I truly adore it when the heroes of the previous novels are around to mock the newest one. (Sylvain is particularly good at this.) I love how she writes about married couples too, and shows how difficult marriage can be, but also how rewarding. Then there are the fairy tales she slips into the stories like special little presents you just give someone because you love it. All of that together is impossible for me to resist. And yes, they are sexy. Exactly the kind of sexy I like.

Thanks to Laura’s books I was willing to explore a whole new genre. And most of the exploring I’ve done has come at her recommendation. She is an excellent book pusher. She caused my book bingeing one other author too, and I can’t stress again how long it had been since I had wanted to binge books. It’s been a great feeling. It had also been quite some time since I had found books that I wanted to reread so much. Books that when I had a stressful day, were the perfect solution. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I’ve reread all of these. For that, for all the new authors she’s introduced me to, and for giving me an excellent gateway into this genre, Laura Florand’s books will always have a special place in my heart. As I have explored this genre more too, I can also say she is my favorite author of contemporary romance and I don’t see that changing.

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Merci, Brandy! I also get romance recommendations from Laura. 🙂 Melina Marchetta was also my gateway to YA contemporary.

Amour et Florand

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. 🙂

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

I have to thank my good friend Michelle for introducing me to what has become one of my favorite contemporary romance series. I had a feeling that I would enjoy reading Laura Florand’s novels after my copies arrived and I saw how pretty they were. I’m pleased to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

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

The Chocolate ThiefPARIS
Breathtakingly beautiful, the City of Light seduces the senses, its cobbled streets thrumming with possibility. For American Cade Corey, it’s a dream come true, if only she can get one infuriating French chocolatier to sign on the dotted line…

CHOCOLATE

Melting, yielding yet firm, exotic, its secrets are intimately known to Sylvain Marquis. But turn them over to a brash American waving a fistful of dollars? Jamais. Not unless there is something much more delectable on the table …

STOLEN PLEASURE

Whether confections taken from a locked shop or kisses in the dark, is there anything sweeter?

I LOVE desserts and I’m a big fan of chocolate. Some of my favorites are dark chocolate with nuts, mint chocolate and truffles. I know it’s not a healthy habit but I have chocolate almost everyday. I eat chocolate to cheer me up when I’m feeling a little low and I also eat chocolate to celebrate when something good happens. I feel like there’s always an excuse for me to indulge in chocolate. So imagine my delight at discovering that both the main characters in The Chocolate Thief are fellow chocolate-lovers. Cade is the heiress of Corey Chocolate, one of the largest chocolate corporations in the world (I think the surname Corey is a nod to Hershey). While Sylvain is one of the top chocolatiers in Paris. I wish I could afford to try chocolates that are as good as Sylvain’s masterpieces but I’m afraid they’re probably too expensive for me. I did find Sylvain’s reasons for choosing to work with chocolates intriguing:

He had been a gangly, awkward adolescent with shaggy hair, so it was a good thing he had discovered very early in his teenage years What Women Wanted.

Chocolat. If you wanted to lure a woman who wouldn’t otherwise have looked twice at you, good chocolate was better than a love potion.

Add the fact that the novel is set in Paris, a beautiful, romantic city that I’ve always wanted to visit and I’m one happy reader. We have here a chocolate-filled take of a love-hate relationship. Both of them love chocolate but in different ways. Cade is proud of her family’s heritage and how their products bring happiness to millions of people. She’s all about making chocolate more accessible to people. While Sylvain looks down on mass-produced chocolate and believes that creating chocolate is a fine art form. What I loved about these two characters is how passionate they both are about what they do. Cade knows that people rely on her and their company is responsible for providing much-needed jobs. Sylvain pours so much of himself in what he does that he takes total ownership of his creations, to the point that he feels that people are tasting a part of him whenever they devour his chocolates. This is why he takes so much pride in the fact that Cade can’t get enough of his work, which she doesn’t want to openly admit so she resorts to stealing them. I can certainly appreciate a girl resorting to thieving for the sake of the finest chocolate that she’s ever tasted. I like how the reader is given a full understanding of the characters’ background, how and why they became who they are when we meet them. I liked Cade and Sylvain’s warm interactions with their family and friends. The Chocolate Thief is a deliciously tempting work of fiction, I gobbled it up in just two days. I would have done it in one sitting if I didn’t have to go to work. Highly recommended for fans of chocolate, novels set in Paris and contemporary romance. Just make sure you have some chocolate on hand when you read this. I seriously cannot wait for the third book in the series, The Chocolate Touch, to be released in July. It will be about Cade’s sister and Sylvain’s rival.

On a side note, I’m delighted to put up a post on my birthday about a book that I loved. I wish I could do that every year. Yesterday, my lovely co-workers got me this yummy chocolate cake called Othello:

Glace birthday cake 2013

Happy 29th of March! 😀

Other reviews:
Rachel Neumeier
Angieville
Smexy Books

Shoot That Book: Laura Florand’s Chocolate Series

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

My good friend Michelle of See Michelle Read recommended Laura Florand’s contemporary romance novels when I met up with her a few weeks ago. I hadn’t heard of this author before but was immediately curious when Michelle mentioned that the books are all about chocolate, romance and Paris. What’s not to like? Fortunately, I was able to order copies of The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss before flying back to Singapore. I’m still in the middle of The Chocolate Thief and thoroughly enjoying this decadent read. Since I think the covers for both novels are pretty, I wanted to feature them here on the blog. I like how the two covers match each other:

Laura Florand1

The iconic Eiffel Tower is included in The Chocolate Thief’s cover to represent the setting:

Laura Florand2

I like the details of the two covers – how one woman is (almost) holding a bag of chocolates and the other a stack of macarons (yep, another favorite dessert aside from chocolates):

Laura Florand3

And of course, I had to include a snapshot of the French word for chocolate:

Laura Florand_chocolat

Lovely covers, don’t you think? I always like covers when they fit the story within the book. It kind of makes me sad that the third book in the series doesn’t match these two:

The Chocolate Touch

I’m still excited to read it though! Have you read Laura Florand’s novels? Would love to hear what you think of them if you have.