Laura Florand does not go wrong mixing dessert, France, and love stories. She has an excellent conceit and uses it to maximum advantage in this intersecting contemporary romance series. As in life, almost everything comes back to chocolate, except the sex, that’s fairly frequently about oblique vanilla kink, and, truthfully, once or twice about chocolate, too.
Plot Summary (All): American woman meets French food god. Instant attraction. Conflict. Delicious food. Hot sex. Engagement about three weeks later.
- The Chocolate Thief – Pretty good, it took me from 99 cents on Kindle to the complete series.
- The Chocolate Kiss – A very good fairy tale that made me forgive the metaphor.
- The Chocolate Rose – Excellent passion, I’m not sure what happened to the love story.
- The Chocolate Touch – My favourite of the group, it was really sweet and intense.
- The Chocolate Heart – I’ll let you know when my library gets it in.
Each of the heroes are artists in their chosen medium which, fortunately for the reader, are food related. As professional chefs, they are artists, intelligent, driven, and self-disciplined. The heroes were also a little more insecure than is usual in a romance. They carry themselves with bravado, but Florand lets the reader see their vulnerability. Is it because they’re French that they are allowed to be masculine and sensitive as well? I’m not sure, but I really liked it.
Individual book reviews after the jump or on my tiny little blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.