18 January 2014

REVIEW: The Chocolate Temptation, Laura Florand's lyrical, romantic, and magical novel receives five stars!

There are some books and authors that I want to hide, they're my secret escape and might not be shared easily. These are the writers and stories that tend to offer a magical glimpse into a world of happy-ever-afters, transcending time and place. Luckily for me, one of these amazing writers contacted me just after the holidays and offered a review copy of her newest book. When she asked me, I had to resist reaching through the ether of the digital world and grabbing it from her (never fear I didn't have to, it was in my inbox in moments of my affirmative reply).

What book and author am I rhapsodizing over? The Chocolate Temptation, book six in Laura Florand's Amour et Chocolat series. But once it arrived, I couldn't bear to open it. I just gazed at the cover with it's lavender stilettos and model of the Tour d'Eiffel. Each day I did this, and began to realize this was like when I was a child and made myself eat everything except what I loved first from the dinner plate - and only when the not so favorite things were tasted did I allow myself to savor the flavors I loved. So, by waiting and waiting, I realized that this was how I treat Mme Florand's books, as the superlative favored taste to savor and celebrate.

Now, after all those elegies, was The Chocolate Temptation really worth the wait? In one word, YES! I had been fascinated by Patrick, the second in Chef Luc Leroi's kitchen from The Chocolate Heart . Patrick captured my interest and wouldn't let go - and I hoped that he would be featured in the near future - never dreaming it would only be a few short months till Florand would let us into her world again.

Patrick embodies the self-confidence and charisma that certain people born under lucky stars seem to have in abundance. Described as resembling a California surfer-boy with blond good looks, a perpetual tan, and a body built by tackling kilos upon kilos of weighty objects in the kitchen - as well as the gym - he seems on the surface to be another playboy chef. Certainly that's the impression that intern Sarah, or Sarabelle as Patrick calls her, has of him. Not only is she a lonely intern, but she's considered ancient in Parisian standards to begin life as a pastry chef intern. Now 24, she gave up her hard-fought career as an engineer to follow her dream to Paris with the aspiration to create cakes that will bring smiles to the faces of everyone who sees them.

Is Patrick as golden as he appears? Is Sara really invisible to him? Well, there probably wouldn't be a story if that were the case. But the unwrapping or unveiling of each of their personalities, layer by layer, is the sublime magic that Florand achieves in this book. Almost lyrical enough be be called poetry in some passages, Florand's prose is achingly beautiful in this story as she reveals the inner thoughts and demons of each of her protagonists. What struck me so strongly about this story was how introspective it was, truly like reading the diary of a friend where each private emotion - be it fear, anger, or, indeed, love - was revealed quietly, but ever so clearly.

The story is set, once again, in Paris, the City of Lights and love. The magic of the city is definitely sprinkled, like the gold dust that Sarah works with on desert masterpieces, over the two of these to-be lovers. Florand's descriptions of the city, the walks through the arrondissements, the night at the Palais Garnier (Opéra de Paris), all provided me with a magic carpet of memories to illustrate the story. For those who may not have had the pleasure to visit Paris yet, you cannot enjoy a more perfect introduction to the city than through each Florand's books in this series.

Now, I'm going to carefully pack my copy of The Chocolate Temptation away to be brought out on occasions when I need, perhaps a little solace or a celebration, either will be achieved by reading and re-reading the Amour et Chocolat series. Florand promises that there may be some novellas and perhaps another story in the sister series, La Vie en Roses, in the future. I will wait patiently, knowing that these will once again be treasures to unwrapped, regarded, and enjoyed with an awareness of their magical uniqueness.

In conclusion, Laura Florand's lyrical, romantic, and magical,  The Chocolate Temptation receives five stars!





From the Publisher



Amour et Chocolat Book 6
The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand
AOS Publishing
ISBN 9780988506534
ASIN B00HV64GMO
Price $4.99
Publication Date: January 14, 2014

Romantic Times acclaims Laura Florand's work as "sensuous and sumptuous", nominating her for Best Book of the Year, and NPR says it's "explosive, sensual . . . and utterly sweet". Now, in her sixth book in the internationally bestselling Amour et Chocolat series, Florand takes us into a top Paris restaurant's pastry kitchen and into the hearts and irresistible temptations of its chefs in The Chocolate Temptation.

She hated him.
Patrick Chevalier. The charming, laid-back, golden second-in-command of the Paris pastry kitchen where Sarah worked as intern, who made everything she failed at seem so easy, and who could have every woman he winked at falling for him without even trying. She hated him, but she'd risked too much for this dream to give up on it and walk out just so he wouldn't break her heart.

But he didn't hate her.
Sarah Lin. Patrick's serious, dark-haired American intern, who looked at him as if she could see right through him and wasn't so impressed with what she saw. As her boss, he knew he should leave her alone. The same way he knew better than to risk his heart and gamble on love.

But he was never good at not going after what - or who - he wanted.

He could make magic out of sugar. But could he mold hate into love?