Malin’s #CBR5 Review #106: The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

Dominique Richard worked in an abattoir in his early teens, but is now one of the chief chocolatiers in Paris. His chocolate, like his reputation, is darker and his flavour combinations are much more unorthodox and edgier than those of his rivals. Yet for all that Dominique is known for his volatile temper, his employees all adore him, and treat him more like an older brother than a boss. They all want him to find lasting happiness, not just indulge in meaningless one night stands.

Jaime Corey is recovering from a terrible ordeal. She used to travel the world, trying to develop sustainable farming and fair trade practices among the suppliers to her family’s chocolate empire. Now she’s a mere shadow of herself, slowly recuperating in Paris, resenting the cloying concern of family. Every day, she spends some time at Dominique Richard’s shop, watching him from afar, never dreaming that he’s taking just as much notice of her. Why would the darkly charming and brilliant creative genius have a scarred little nobody like her, when sophisticated Paris ladies keep throwing themselves at him?

More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #100: The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand

Jolie Manon’s father was one of the very top chefs of France, before his restaurant lost it’s third Michelin star, and he had a stroke. Now Jolie is trying to coax him back into greatness, with a cookbook featuring several of his most famous recipes, although her father is cranky and despondent and refuses to be seen in public. Of course, she can’t tell her father that they’re being sued, by his former employee, now a star chef in his own right. Jolie needs to go to the Côte d’Azur to negotiate some sort of compromise. She’s worried that news of the lawsuit is going to make her father have a relapse.

Gabriel Delange has a three star restaurant in Provence, but still can’t believe that his old nemesis, Pierre Manon, has the gall to publish a cook book where at least a third of the recipes were invented by Gabriel, while he worked himself nearly to death to secure Manon the coveted third star, sacrificing his health and losing his girlfriend. Gabriel is furious to realise that Manon won’t even face him personally, but sends his youngest daughter to negotiate. He’s shocked to realise that his old nemesis had a stroke, but still can’t forgive him. He knows that if he forces the issue, the old man may get sicker. Maybe he can blackmail the beautiful daughter into making a deal on her father’s behalf?

See what I thought about this creative modern re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR Review #99: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Cath Talarico is a Chicago girl trying to make a new life for herself in London She has made several big mistakes in her life, but for the past two years, she’s been working her ass of, being New Cath, who stays out of trouble, never does anything wild and crazy, and works diligently on an exhibition at the V&A, hoping to earn herself an assistant curatorship, despite the fact that she has no formal qualifications. Her life is so predictable that she can tell tell exactly which of the many commuters she shares a train with every morning, will show up at what time.

After a disastrous blind date (that Cath only agreed to in the hopes of securing a particular item for the upcoming exhibition), wakes up in a strange flat, and vaguely remembers being taken home by the man she only thinks of as City – one of her fellow commuters, always impeccably dressed in a three piece suit, who clearly works in the financial district, probably as a banker. She remembers enough that she knows she wasn’t taken advantage of in any way, and is touched when she discovers he’s left a new toothbrush and a clean towel out for her. When she’s freshened up, she discovers that City, who is indeed a banker, in reality called Nev Chamberlain (yes, after the Prime Minister), also paints, and may not be the elitist rich guy she imagined him.

More on my blog. 

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #98: Lick by Kylie Scott

Evelyn “Ev” Thomas went to Vegas with her best friend to celebrate her 21st birthday spectacularly, and maybe get laid. She wakes up on a bathroom floor, monstrously hung over, in the presence of a very attractive, half-naked man with tattoos, and a diamond the size of a small ice berg on her finger. The courteous half-naked stranger is less than happy when Ev admits to having blocked out the previous night completely. She doesn’t remember who he is, and she certainly doesn’t remember getting married. Her new husband storms out in anger, claiming his lawyers will contact her.

Ev discovers that her new husband’s name is David, because on her drunken night out, she apparently had it tattooed on her butt. She wants to just quietly forget that anything every happened, hopefully keeping her drunken mistake from her parents. When a horde of paparazzi meet her as she arrives back home in Portland, asking her all sorts of intrusive questions about what her new marriage will mean for the future of Stage Dive, Ev realises that anonymity is no longer an option. Her friend Lauren is both shocked and delighted that Ev’s new husband is David Ferris, guitarist and song writer for the biggest rock band out there at the moment (and Lauren’s favourite band). Ev is determined to just get the marriage annulled, and agrees to be flown to LA to get the papers signed when David sends a bunch of body guards to pick her up at her parents’ house.

When she arrives in LA, there’s a huge celebrity party at the mansion where the band are staying. David pretty much completely ignores her, dumps her in a huge bedroom, all alone. He then gets furious when he finds her later in the evening, talking to his brother (who Ev doesn’t recognise), who is skeevily trying to make a pass at his new sister-in-law. The day after, a team of lawyers try to bully Ev into signing annulment papers, but she’s so appalled when it’s clear that she’s seen as some opportunistic gold digger that she storms off, being rescued by the drummer of the band, who seems to be the only nice guy there. Her cranky husband eventually shows up and apologises for being a complete tool, and after Ev actually spends some more time with her new husband, she discovers why she may have agreed to marry him on a spur of the moment.

Full review on my blog.

Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #22 – Love Irresistibly by Julie James

I’m breaking new ground! This novel is an unrealistic American contemporary  romance instead of an unrealistic English Victorian romance. Progress?! 

This book made its way on to my Kindle owing to Malin’s excellent review in which she gives a lovely summary and an accurate evaluation of the book. Set in Chicago, Love Irresistibly is the story of Cade Morgan and Brooke Parker who meet cute during a criminal investigation. They are both ambitious, driven attorneys who have been recently jilted because neither really makes time for personal relationships. There are subplots involving criminal investigations, long-lost family, and football. It was a light, quick read.  Julie James is a fun, mostly competent* writer who moves things along well, and has some really nice moments. If this novel were to my taste, I’d seek out more of her books.

Next comes the part where I invent a literary term. If you know the real one, please pipe up.

Continue reading

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #35: Love Irresistibly by Julie James

Brooke Parker has worked her way up from being a scholarship kid to working as General Counsel for one of the top restaurant chains in Chicago. She’s proven to be extremely capable, but the job demands a lot of her time. So much so, that the hot doctor she’s been dating, just dumped her, saying he never sees her, and it’s like dating a guy. Pretty much the same story as with the last two guys. Having been dumped by three men in the last eighteen months makes her consider taking a relationship sabbatical.

Then assistant DA Cade Morgan walks into her office, needing her help to catch a dirty politician in the act. The DA’s office and the FBI need to plant a microphone in one of the restaurants that Brooke’s company owns, and she’s the person who can make that happen. A former college football star and rising golden boy in the Chicago DA’s office, Cade is used to attention. His last three girlfriends claimed he was emotionally unavailable, but he’s not particularly bothered by his bachelor status. Sparks fly when he and Brooke face off against each other, and while they both try to deny the attraction, it doesn’t take long before they’re meeting for something more than business as well. Can two people who’ve been accused of working too much and sharing too little of themselves make it work? More on my blog.

SeaKat’s CBR5 Review #8 Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi

Book review“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Oh, come on.  I gleefully judge books by their covers. And there is one cover element that experience has taught me is an indicator of a deliciously terrible book:  the phrase “USA Today Best Selling Author” emblazoned on the front.

Man, I don’t know if it’s merely a coincidence but the books that I’ve read that trumpet THAT particular achievement… Oof. They’ve been bad. Throw-‘em-at-the-wall bad. So I had very low expectations for Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi when I saw it in the library. But I figured it would be a quick read and maybe fun to review (and savage) so I put it in the basket.  Well, I was in for a surprise.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #31: The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand

Magalie Chaudron lives high in a tower over the tiny tea salon La Maison des Sorcières (the witches’ house). In the window there is always a unique chocolate display depicting magical wonders, the walls are decorated with witches’ hats and customers can buy divine hot chocolate that Magalie has stirred wishes of happiness and prosperity into. When world renowned pastry chef Philippe Lyonnais decides to open his most recent pastry shop just down the street from their salon, Magalie is convinced this will steal all their customers away and drive the aunts out of business. She goes to warn Philippe to stay away, but only succeeds in making him more determined.

Philippe is enchanted with the fierce woman who comes to his shop and tries to make him move his shop. He tries to placate her with a macaron made from his own hand, and she flatly refuses. In return, he refuses all of Magalie’s attempts to try her hot chocolate, not entirely certain the little witch hasn’t added poison to it, or whether drinking it will turn him into a toad. No matter how hateful she is to him, he is determined to win her over. More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #29: The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

Cade Corey, heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune, whose family makes the mass produced chocolate bars sold in every supermarket in America, wants to establish a gourmet chocolate line, and she wants the name of a top of the line French chocolatier to help her sell the enterprise. As Sylvain Marquis is the most sought after and famous French chocolate artisan, she offers him the chance to make a fortune, and he turns her down flat, outraged at her impudence. Having worked his way up to become the best, he will not sell out to some presumptuous American, whose family makes what can barely be called chocolate.

Not one to give up easily, Cade resolves to put the arrogant, but oh so handsome man out of her mind, convinced that her family’s fortunes and the promise to make insane amounts of money will sway one of the chocolatiers of Paris to join in her business venture. Of course, forgetting Sylvain Marquis would be a lot easier if the flat she had rented didn’t overlook his shop, and she didn’t keep running into him in shops and restaurants in the area. Her father thinks she is foolish to be wasting time in Paris in the first place, her grandfather encourages her to conduct industrial espionage and steal Sylvain’s secrets. So when the opportunity arises to do just that, Cade sneaks into Sylvain’s labratoire to see what she can find. Her snooping doesn’t go undetected, however, and soon the Internet food blogs are abuzz with rumours of a chocolate thief stealing the delectable Marquis chocolates in the dead of night. More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #24: Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey

Guy meets girl when breaking her boss’ nose. Guy gets girl fired. Guy meets girl again at his brother’s wedding. They have a one night stand. A month later, girl shows up and tells guy she’s pregnant.

Kevin Kowalski has women throwing bar napkins with lewd propositions and phone numbers at him, but the only woman he really wants is the one doesn’t seem to be interested in a relationship at all, despite being pregnant with his child. Beth Hansen gets pregnant after a one night stand (turns out that even using a condom doesn’t always keep you safe), and is stunned with Kevin not only doesn’t freak out when she tells him the big news, but seems quite excited about becoming a father. More on my blog