Monday, August 3, 2015
ARC Review: A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand
Title: A Wish Upon Jasmine (La Vie en Roses, #2)
Author: Laura Florand
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: August 2015
I've always read that love is supposed to be easy. If you have to fight for it, it's not true love. If they don't immediately, truly, deeply understand you then it just isn't meant to be. And, perhaps, in the world we live in where we try to rush through life, picking up fast-food and arranging family gatherings and signing up for online dating so we can meet someone fast, that is love. But in the world Laura Florand builds--re-creates, really--through her prose, love is filled with messy beginnings and misunderstandings. Yet, it's not less because of those road bumps--it's more because her characters are willing to open themselves up to that type of hurt and pain and failure and try again.
After Once Upon a Rose was utterly charming, what with happy-go-lucky rockstar Layla and soft-hearted (but growly) Matt, I didn't expect A Wish Upon Jasmine to be quite so series. Or alluring. Or lovely. Damien, the businessman hero of this novel and cousin to Matt, is hard, cold steel. While Matt grows the roses and guards the valley--a task that often feels like a burden to him in the face of his cousins who manage to travel and slip in and out of their responsibilities--Damien acquires the money that allows Matt to grow his roses and Tristan, their youngest cousin, to make his perfumes. Without Damien's ruthlessness, they wouldn't have the wealth--or much of the happiness--that they have today.
But Damien, who so desperately wants to be able to make everyone's wish come true--to support them so that they can pursue what they love--is so much more than that veneer of calculated business acumen. In New York City, on a business venture, with a soft, shy woman named Jess, the true side of himself truly comes out. Only, the next morning Jess leaves his bed without a word. And the next thing he knows, he's bought her company and she's not just Jess, she's Jasmin Bianchi, the woman who created "Spoiled Brat", the perfume that isn't the artistic perfume that critics adore but rather the type of commercial perfume that sells--that made the number two slot and only slipped to number three. And now, six months later, she's in the Rosier Valley, claiming that an old perfume shop that has been in his family for generations has recently come into her possession. And, for Damien, it's a second chance to finally get it right with the one woman who got away.
I never know what to expect with a Florand novel. Either they start out cold, with the hero and heroine having never met and creating a complex relationship from the start or they begin layered, with the reader sifting through both the memories and the emotions that already flavor every conversation. With Damien and Jess, there's so much that isn't being said--so much under the surface--and on the surface is all sexual tension and wanting that it's a heady combination. But I enjoyed it so much. Some of Florand's later Chocolat et Amour books, such as The Chocolate Heart, have been the type of romances I wanted to weep at. A Wish Upon Jasmine, though, strikes the perfect balance between heart-wrenching and sweet.
I've long since given up trying to hide my feelings for my favorite Florand heros (*ahem* Sylvain Marquis!), but Damien Rosier is seriously giving my heart a hard time. I adored him as a lover, as a cousin, as a grand-nephew, as a son, as a grandson and, most of all, despite his flaws. And the same goes with Jess, who doesn't believe herself to be worthy of love, let alone of the love of someone as intelligent, gorgeous, and successful as Damien. It broke my heart to see Jess, whose perfume rose to the top of the market when she was only twenty-four, repeatedly battle with herself to gain confidence and believe that she was worth it. But, again, that's what I love so much about Florand's novels; they're as much a love story as they are a coming-of-age story in which her characters experience a tremendous amount of emotional growth.
Reading A Wish Upon Jasmine, I was struck by how besotted I am with this new world Florand has created. While I certainly miss the streets of Paris and the taste of chocolate on my tongue, slowly but surely I am being converted to the perfumes and aromas that grace these pages. Moreover, the Rosier family--so intertwined that if one were to change, they all would--has my heart and soul. Florand's previous series had her heroines connected by blood and her heroes moving in the same professional circle but the blood ties were never as strong or as poignant as they are here.
I've read nearly all of Florand's novels at this point, with the exception of her own fictionalized autobiography, and yet she never fails to surprise me with the characters she writes up or the depth of her novels. Moreover, her prose only grows more decadent by the novel; lusher, fuller, and all the more realistic. It's all-too-easy to forget you're not actually in the South of France if one of her books is in your hands. As a self-proclaimed fan of her, of course I loved this--I loved this--and it's one of my new favorite Florand novels. What's more, this series is shaping up to be even better than her last and I am breathless with anticipation for the next installment. A Wish Upon Jasmine is the all-too-perfect response to a wish you didn't even know you made; simply magical.