Amour et Florand: Guest Post from Mandi

Since I consider Mandi of Smexy Books an expert when it comes to the romance genre, I love getting recommendations from her. I’m delighted that she’s also a fan of Laura Florand’s writing.

Amour et Florand participants, please give it up for Mandi!

SmexyBooks
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There are so many aspects of Laura Florand’s writing that appeals to me. The way she sets the books in romantic Paris, in busy kitchens or in quaint chocolate shops. The detail she uses not only in describing the setting, but the food that is created in these kitchens is terrific. It’s so easy to immerse yourself in the world she has created. Inside of this world she gives us such rich characters that leads to a full romance. My favorite thing about her books though, is what she does with her heroes. Her typical hero is a big guy who is extremely passionate about cooking, creating pastries or amazing chocolate. He is extremely intense, usually grumpy, and has 100% of his focus on his career. Until he meets his heroine. All of a sudden, that extreme focus, is parted. All of that intense passion has a new target. And instead of that heroine melting like a piece of chocolate in his hand, she resists. She might ignore. She doesn’t look his way. So instead of getting what he wants immediately (as he is used to) he has to work for it. His feathers are ruffled, and he has to find a way to prove to the heroine, he is worthy of her. This big strong man, is being brought down, and I love every second of it.

Dom in the Chocolate Touch knows he is overbearing and aggressive and wants to be a better man for Jamie.

Merde, but this stuff was complicated. He kept trying to pretend she was chocolate because at least he understood that you could never rush chocolate, but since she persistently resembled a woman instead, it was hard for him to treat her like something he could stir with a spoon.

Unfortunately.

Or when Gabriel is brought to his knees by Jolie in The Chocolate Rose…

“You’re beautiful,” she said involuntarily.

His smile grew wider, a boyish delight. “You mean, this.” He gestured to the marble counter, indicating her dessert and everything that had come before or been served to others.

“I said what I meant.”

His hand froze in the middle of the sweeping gesture. It turned, pressing flat against the marble, and his head bent. She couldn’t read his expression, as he stared down at his hand, so still. It was almost as if he was badly shaken, as if something was rising out of the shaking, warring inside him.

Or poor Philippe from The Chocolate Kiss (my personal favorite) who would make macaron after macaron for his beloved Magalie, and could never understand why she rejected them each time.

He couldn’t believe she had rejected one of his macarons. He had offered it to her fresh from his own hand. Not just his recipe, but made personally by him. And she had refused it.

His Desir. Apricot kissed by pistachio, with the secret little square of pistachio praline hidden inside, like a G-spot. Well, he didn’t call it le point Gin his marketing brochures, but whenever he created, he knew what he was doing: every pastry had to have its orgasm, its culmination of bliss that hit like a complete surprise. That made the eyes of those who bit into it shiver closed with delight.

But don’t fret. Not only do we get fulfilling and satisfying happy ever afters, but all that intense passion, and torment these heroes live with – pays off well in the bedroom too. I can’t recommend this author enough.

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Merci, Mandi! I do love how these big, super confident guys turn into marshmallows when it comes to their leading ladies. 🙂

Amour et Florand

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

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

Book Haul: A Package and Some Galleys

I haven’t done a book haul post in a while and even though I haven’t received a lot of books lately, I thought it would be fun to highlight what has been added to my TBR pile. Rachel Neumeier and I were chatting about some of our favorite comfort reads and she mentioned Gillian Bradshaw.

RachelNeumeier_on_Gillian Bradshaw

I’ve never read any of Gillian Bradshaw’s novels and Rachel very generously offered to send me one of them. Because she’s so nice, she threw in a copy of one of her books and I received a lovely package containing these:

Package from Rachel Neumeier

The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier
The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw

Here’s a funny story, I gave my office address to Rachel because it’s easier to receive packages in the office. If a package doesn’t fit in the mail slot for our flat, I’d be given a slip and I have to pick the package up from the post office (which only has extended hours on Wednesday nights). So it’s more convenient to use my office address, but I had to give my full name and Rachel signed the book with both my nickname and full name:

The Floating Islands signature

My index finger is there to hide my full name 😛

Can I just say that getting packages in the office considerably brightens up my day? Even better when a co-worker mentioned that it’s cool that I get packages with books inside them. I have to agree that it’s pretty awesome. Thank you SO much for these, Rachel. I look forward to reading them! I’ve also been approved for some titles on NetGalley, which is note-worthy since my requests usually get rejected.

Flirting With DisasterBrooklyn GirlsThe Chocolate Touch

Flirting With Disaster by Ruthie Knox
Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

I’ve read all of Ruthie Knox’s novels and I haven’t reviewed any of them on my blog. I really should work on that. I’m looking forward to Brooklyn Girls since I enjoyed reading A Girl Like You by the same author. If you’ve been following my blog for some time, then you would know that I haven’t stopped talking about Laura Florand since I discovered her work and it’s not surprising that I was super excited to receive The Chocolate Touch. I’ve been waiting for it to go up on NetGalley for weeks now. Thank you, NetGalley and publishers, for giving me access to these titles!

The Chocolate Touch ebook

I devoured The Chocolate Touch as soon as I could and I just finished reading it tonight. Hopefully, I can review it soon. Last but not the least, here are some postcards that I’ve also recently received:

Postcards 20130613

Thanks to Steph and Flannery for some of these postcards! What about you, any new books added to your pile?