Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out rock star Layla—“Belle”—Dubois seeks refuge in the south of France. That old, half-forgotten heritage in a valley of roses seems like a good place to soothe a wounded heart. She certainly doesn’t expect the most dangerous threat to her heart to pounce on her as soon as she sets foot on the land.
He wants them back.
Matt didn’t mean to growl at her quite that loudly. But—his roses! She can’t have his roses. Even if she does have all those curls and green eyes and, and, and…what was he growling about again?
Or maybe he just wants her.
When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.
It might involve kissing.
I’ve been hoarding this book for a moment of true need. Or at least, that’s how I’m explaining why it took me this long to read this book, considering that it’s been in my virtual TBR pile for a very long time. It was, as with other Florand books, lush, funny, and richly layered both in terms of plot and characters. I guess you could loosely describe this as a beauty and the beast retelling, in so much as we have a really grumpy love interest who has a very soft heart–Matthieu, and a love interest who is beautiful, kind and curious–Layla. But because this is written by Florand, it is more than that. It is a musician who inherits a house in France, and steps into a family involved in the perfume industry who are collectively going through some growing pains. Continue reading →
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?
The theme of February’s TBR Challenge is “Series Catch Up” and to be honest, there’s nothing for me to technically catch up on because I haven’t read any of the series. (Although isn’t starting at book six something of a catch up reading wise? ;)) I have to say, I read this because of all the Laura Florand buzz I’d been seeing constantly … but really because the premise of this book. I’m not usually one who goes for the “enemies” trope, but I’d say this one isn’t that.
I loved Sarah. She’s so neurotic and clueless and wonderful. I just think she’s fantastic. And actually, Sarah is really great – she’s just suffering from a total lack of self confidence, and I think we can all relate to that. I liked that she’s sweet and shy, but has a steel core. She seems so closed off and contained, but has such a huge heart. Patrick describes her as the fairy godmother, and that sums her up perfectly. She’s not the fairy tale princess – Sarah makes things happen on her own for herself, and the ones she loves. It might not always be the grand sweeping gestures, but the little things people take for granted, and she just continues on. Sarah is everyday in that she could be any regular person off the street – but one who excels at what she does.
Patrick Chevalier might be one of my favorite romance heroes because he’s just so perfect. Sarah pretty much describes him as a golden surfer god in looks and character. But he’s so messed up. It’s delightful. Patrick is a phenom in the kitchen, and I loved his casual arrogance. He’s not an asshole, just that he so summarily dismisses anything basic. He knows how good he is and can back it up – but he doesn’t throw it in your face, it just is. That’s sexy. What’s more sexy though, is how he falls for Sarah. He meets her and develops a crush on her basically on sight, and for the next five months just goes gaga for her. Only he can’t show it because basically he’s her boss. Patrick being denied something he wants is a lot of fun. Even sulky Patrick is charming and delightful.
Even though Patrick is Sarah’s superior in the kitchen it doesn’t seem skeevy. I think what helped is that Sarah has had a longstanding attraction to him as well – just that she suppressed it. Also that there are definite boundaries, and they remain professional in the work environment. The turning point (and I don’t consider this a spoiler because it happens so early in the book) is when Sarah tells Patrick she hates him. That’s the catalyst and spurs him into making his move. Sneaky loveable wonderful bastard that he is. One thing that I waver between is his interpretation? I’m not sure if Patrick is like “yes! She hates me! That’s a powerful emotion and means she feels something so I’m going for it! I can’t resist!” or if he’s like “hate? She hates me? No! That … no! She can’t hate me – I have to change this.” Perhaps a mix of the two? (I kind of like the latter more, but that’s just me.) The aspect that makes this okay for me is that Sarah doesn’t really hate him – she just “hates” how he makes her feel and act, because she thinks she’s got this major case of pointless, consuming, unrequited love. How can you not love all this?
I had some issues with the book that I won’t get into because they’re hyper technical, and wouldn’t bother 99.9% of people. But if I think about them, it drives me crazy. … So yeah.
This book is just so freaking romantic (and sexy), and emotional – that line – and the following passage with the quote “then why are you still here” – if you’ve read it you know – it makes me cry every time. Every. Damn. Time. I love how developed Sarah and Patrick are. I love the relationship Patrick has with Luc. The way the relationship develops, how Patrick sets out to court Sarah, wooing her from the start with treats from the kitchen then treats outside of it … It’s even nice that there’s conflict and Sarah and Patrick work through it naturally.
I’ve already re-read this book, and I just know I’ll be reading this book many more times – and the other books in this series too. The Chocolate Temptation is probably one of my favorite books of 2014. Get a copy, read it. You’ll thank me.