I recently discovered this series, full of Paris and chocolate and sexy French men. What's not to love? I simply adored the first book and the second wasn't too bad either, so I cannot wait to continue this series and share my love of it with others! Bon Apetit!
Title: The Chocolate Thief (Amour et Chocolat, #1)
Author: Laura Florand
Rating: 4 Stars
HOLY HOTNESS. I picked up The Chocolate Thief while taking a quick study break, but I didn't set it back down until I had devoured the entire novel. Frankly speaking, I am surprised no one has tried this combination before: chocolate and romance, all set against the backdrop of Paris? What's NOT to love? Although its cover just screams chick-lit, The Chocolate Thief is quite thankfully a little more sensual and deeper than that. While it may lack the depth most readers - including myself - crave,
Sylvain it captured me heart and soul. (And made my parents turn their nose up and the number of chocolate wrappers strewn around my bed, not to mention the discarded textbooks on my desk, but no matter. Sylvain Marquis is worth it. *melts*)
What makes The Chocolate Thief so unique and different from all other romances out there is, quite simply, the presence of chocolate. Cade Corey heads out to Paris to fulfill a childhood dream of introducing a sophisticated European line of chocolate into her multimillionaire dollar family-owned company. Corey Bars are all the rage in America, but in Paris, Cade is unable to find a single chocolatier willing to join her on her venture and have their name stamped on her chocolates. Sylvain Marquis, rated the best chocolatier in Paris, is the first person Cade approaches - and is rudely refused by. But neither Sylvain nor Cade can get each other out of their head and their accidental meetings only increase the unspoken sexual tension between them. Until, that is, Cade breaks into Sylvain's store and, overnight, becomes the chocolate thief...and potentially the thief of his heart as well.
Where do I start with this romantic masterpiece? For one, there is something so beautiful about the French language and culture. I may sit bored out of my mind in French class every week, but that can be blamed on my ninety+ instructor and her strange immunity to old-age ailments that keeps her hired. Yet, French truly is the language of romance and the city is bursting with life - all of which is so palpably felt through this love story. We witness the unfolding of this romance through the alternating third-person perspectives of both Sylvain and Cade which enables us to witness their misunderstanding and understand both their point of views. Although Sylvain comes across as a rude snob at first, we see his hidden layers and insecurities as the novel wears on. Cade, too, becomes much more self-actualized from the corporate businesswoman she appears to be as she embarks on a subtle, but significant, journey of self-realization. Moreover, I found myself appreciating the attention given to Cade's wealthy status. Granted, there could have been a more in-depth analysis of so much in the lives of these two, but it maintained a steady balance between romance and depth which worked out surprisingly well.
And yet, perhaps the reason I am so forgiving of the minimal depth in this novel is because the sexual tension fries your brain. I never thought it was possible to become so hot and bothered by reading about the process of making chocolate, but with Sylvain Marquis (and his hands!) making the chocolate, it is guaranteed. Furthermore, the biting remarks and witty banter between these two only added to the aura of the novel, making it melt my heart and turn my feet to jelly. It may not seem like the type of novel capable of such feats, but it is. Unfortunately, after the first-half, the novel seemed to lose a bit of its charm with the back-and-forth insecurities of both Cade and Sylvain, neither of them knowing how to define their relationship or its future. Nevertheless, despite that small qualm, The Chocolate Thief is one of the most gripping, witty, and steamy romantic novels I have read in a really long time. It ends wrapped up quite nicely and the uncovering of the true Sylvain and Cade beneath their sexy personas is deftly written. Not only do these characters mold their way into your heart, but antics of the thievery in this book will keep you grinning and swooning in equal parts. If there is but one major flaw with the novel, it lies in its ability to make you crave chocolate, Paris, and a smoldering chocolatier of your own. Anyone know where I can order one?
Title: The Chocolate Kiss (Amour et Chocolat, #2)
Author: Laura Florand
Rating: 3 Stars
I sat up till 1 AM with The Chocolate Kiss, waiting for the moment when the magic of The Chocolate Thief would be re-captured, but to no avail. I fell asleep with my lights on, dreaming of witches and chocolates and pastries and Sylvain Marquis...not Philippe Lyonnais. Needless to say, that would make him rather upset, I imagine, but he had tough competition. As a companion novel to The Chocolate Thief, this installment of cute chick-lit romance is adorable and charming, but it failed to make me swoon and sigh the way its predecessor did. And yet, these few hours spent delightfully in Paris, in the safe alcove of Île Saint-Louis is worth it.
The Chocolate Kiss reminds me a little bit of my favorite movie "You've Got Mail" - only not quite as good. Magalie and her two aunts are the owners of La Maison des Sorcieres, a chocolate store known for its vivid decorations, warm atmosphere, and magic hot chocolate that can grant wishes and change people. When Philippe Lyonnais, undoubtedly the best pastry chef in Paris, decides to move in close-by, Magalie refuses to stand for it. While her encounter with Philippe fails to get him to move elsewhere, it does make him insta-charmed by her and begins a feud between the two, with Philippe enticing Magalie to try his pastries and vice versa. And yet, Magalie's seemingly childish insistence to stay away from Philippe when he so obviously is smitten by her hides a darker truth of her past - one that only the most faithful chocolate kiss can help heal.
Like its predecessor, The Chocolate Kiss starts out promising enough, introducing us to Magalie and Philippe, both strong and independent characters in their own right. Although their initial feud begins when Philippe takes great offense that Magalie could possibly refuse one of his famous pastries, it soon develops into a war neither of them want to be the first to succumb to. And yet, as their sexual tension builds, they so badly do. Increasingly entertaining though it may have been, this "war" between Magalie and Philippe is carried on for too long until eventually, the reader is simply yelling at these two to give in already because how many times has this same scene of offer-and-refusal occurred? Once this aspect of the novel is finally complete, though, well over half-way through the book, the story takes on a much more serious note, exploring Magalie's insecurities and past troubles. It was this part of the story that captured me - the gentle and caring way that Philippe convinced Magalie that he was there to stay, the understanding gestures that signified he loved her despite her flaws, and especially the depth given to Magalie and Philippe's romance. While The Chocolate Thief dealt more with an issue of Cade and what she wanted from life, lending to a slightly lighter dilemma, this novel goes on a darker path, but finishes out just as strong.
And yet, The Chocolate Kiss was missing a few vital ingredients. For one, the dialogue at times could be rather head-ache-inducing. Although all the talk of princesses in towers and beasts and princes and witches and paupers was charming, it grated on me after awhile and, frankly, I didn't need those metaphors beat over my head paragraph-after-paragraph. Additionally, Philippe is a much more dominating male figure than Sylvain is, which may please some readers but it made me wince and squirm - not in a good way. With The Chocolate Thief, Florand was able to create an important balance, showing us how flummoxed Sylvain could be when an idea backfired on him, making him come across as a jerk when really he had well-meaning intentions. In this manner, through his eyes, we fell in love with him and actively wanted him for Cade. The Chocolate Kiss doesn't give us nearly as many moments into Philippe's head - and it should. From Magalie's perspective, he comes across as a complete arrogant jerk at times, which makes it difficult to like him. Even though we do eventually learn that his actions were well-meant, they were too dominating for me to fall for him in the swoon-worthy manner chick-lit novels like this one promise. Nevertheless, The Chocolate Kiss was worth the stress-free hours I spent with it, despite my growling stomach by the end.