The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand (Roses #1)
Reviewed by Mandi
Last year I read The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand and it was okay, not great. Then she asked me to review The Chocolate Kiss and I thought I’d give her books another shot. Thank goodness because The Chocolate Kiss is an absolutely adorable book that I highly recommend everyone read.
So I was very curious to see how a third book would hold up. And I’m very happy to report that The Chocolate Rose is really well done. This book is the bridge between her Chocolate series (french chocolatier heroes) and her next series which will be chefs in Provence. Each book can be read as a stand alone.
Gabriel Delange, a passtiere, learned so much from his mentor Pierre Manon. He gave everything he had to Pierre, losing his long-term girlfriend and once he helped Pierre get that third gold star, he was fired. Pierre became his most hated nemesis. Gabriel went on to open his own restaurant in Provence, working very hard to achieve those three stars. In present day he is extremely successful and well known. Pierre has had a stroke, and has lost the drive he once had.
Pierre’s daughter Jolie has come to his side after his stroke, trying to pull him out of his depression. Although her parents divorced when she was young and she lived with her mother in America, her dad is still her dad and she is now at his side trying to help him. Always curious about the chef world, she asked him to help write a cookbook, sharing his recipes. It released right about the time he had a stroke, which dampened her excitement. Further, some of the recipes, including the cover image which is a magnificent chocolate rose creation are all Gabriel’s recipes and blood and sweat, and he is now suing Jolie and her father.
Jolie decides to leave Paris to find Gabriel in Provence to see if she can sort it all out, not wanting her father to incur further stress. Once she meets him, and absorbs his huge presence, his sexy ways, and his “beastly” demeanor, she can’t decide if she wants to immediately hop into bed with him or run far, far away.
Laura Florand does two things really great in this book and her previous book Chocolate Kiss. First, she has a way of making you feel like you are in France. Making you feel like you are in Gabriel’s frantic, fantastic kitchen watching him work and trying to taste his food. She makes the setting come alive and she integrates not only the setting but Gabriel’s profession which is so much a part of him into the story and into the romance.
Speaking of the romance, Laura Florand writes such great chemistry. In both the Rose and the Kiss, the hero and heroine start out as enemies of sorts, but she uses those raw emotions to propel their sexual tension into new heights. She really makes the reader work in this one, as Gabriel is the hunter who wants Jolie so badly, and she makes sure she is good and ready before taking that step.
I think my favorite part of this book is the fact that Gabriel blurts out “I love you” first, and Jolie doesn’t know what to do with it. Gabriel then feels so vulnerable and a little awkward, yet he still has that arrogant, beastly side to him. It’s a really well done combination. He has been hurt and dumped so much in the past that he feel so worried so much of this book that Jolie is going to end their relationship. He is very, very insecure in the romance department, yet 100% secure in his profession. He is a loner really, and always takes things too fast and takes too much from people. I loved that dynamic.
“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.
Oh! I also have to give a peek at this scene, as hand holding scenes are always my favorite in romance books. This is one of the first times they’ve held hands and Jolie is unsure what to think.
“Give me your damned hand back.”
She stared at him, wishing she understood what in the world was going on in his head. She looked down at her hand and flexed it. It seemed small, suddenly, but capable for all that. A happy hand. She liked it. She had a lot of fun with it. It was hers, and not something she had ever understood how to trust to others. She looked at his hand, big, open, demanding, stretched toward hers, little calluses on the pads at the base of his fingers and on his fingertips.
Slowly, because the acquiescence seemed to deconstruct every part of her, fill the pieces with light, and put them back together in a shape she couldn’t even recognize, she slipped her hand into his.
I believe the Provence series will feature some people close to Gabriel. I’m excited.