I know I’m a little late on the Laura Florand wagon, I’ve actually previously read one of her books from the “Amour et Chocolat” series earlier, but since I just finished this one I decided to just put some of my thoughts down.
The thing I realize after having read two of Laura Florand’s work is that its very rich. To elaborate on that point, its like chocolate, decadent, absolutely delicious and mouthwatering, you just can’t seem to stop eating it…but you come to a point where its too rich for your palette and you have have to stop, despite the fact you enjoy eating it so much. You would think you could breeze right through books you love, but for me Laura’s work is something I could only take in small bites, because of its richness in sight, in texture, in flavor and even in scents. You could be sitting in your room, or just your regular ol’ coffee shop, or anywhere in your office pantry having lunch and she somehow just manages to transport you to France. She is THAT GOOD!
To start off with the things I loved about this book!
I remember reading somewhere, where they said that Laura’s settings in her books, becomes a character unto itself. I totally agree! I love characters, and I felt even her locations had a voice in the book, and a very strong one.
In The Chocolate Rose, her description of Nice and Paris really helps set the tone as to how different these to places are, as well as the characters who are located in them. Jolie Manon, who commutes between Paris and Nice and Gabriel Delange who starts up his own 3-star restaurant in a beautiful old village in Nice, surrounded by the thick scent of jasmine and rose. The way she uses words is absolutely beautiful…that when I read them I sigh a little and fall in love with a country I’ve never even been to, with the exception of their airport (it wasn’t a very good experience to be honest).
I really loved the character voices! Both the main characters, Jolie and Gabriel, has such strong voices you could practically HEAR them in your head, you wouldn’t even have to use too much imagination. You’d basically be laughing and crying with them. Jolie’s supposed obsession with sex which Gabriel finds hilarious to the fragility of Gabriel’s emotions, its was all voiced out perfectly.
“It’s like a diet, isn’t it? I hate diets[…]They’re evil,” he breathed. “Diets. Sado-masochistic.” – Gabriel Delange reasoning against not taking what one wants.
“But sometimes you do need to pay attention to what you put in your mouth,” she said – Jolie Manon’s reasoning to practicing restraint.
Even the voices of the other side characters were so well done it does make me wanna go read their stories. I love all the little cameos, especially Patrick Chevalier, since I’ve already read his book, it was nice to see him again even if it was for a VERY short period. One of the other couple I was quite interested in was Lea and Daniel Laurier; since they were married at the age of eighteen and nineteen.
But as with all good things, there were some of parts of the book which occasionally made me roll my eyes.
While Jolie and Gabriel were funny…I think the beastly image Jolie imprinted onto Gabriel from the start, sort of got overly repetitive, yes I get it, he roars/growls a lot, he is overly quick and has quite the temper in the kitchens, he doesn’t seem to have the “gentlemanly” manners the other French chefs have, he literally manhandles her and just lifts her whenever and wherever (he admits he has to stop grabbing at her too), and the list continues to describe his “beastly-ness”.
I also wasn’t a fan in how Gabriel viewed Jolie, as something to possess…an object. He was literally obsessed with finding himself a wife, and he doesn’t hide it as to how he’s jealous of other established/married couples! It felt like the only thing he wanted in a relationship was a wife and it could have been ANYONE as long as they could put up with the lifestyle and hours of a 3-star chef! He saw her and he basically did everything he could in order to get her to the point of walking down an aisle towards the alter. Also, there were times where I felt Gabriel was just a tad whiny…and clingy (even though Jolie mentioned he was the LEAST clingy guy she’s been in a relationship with. Seriously can’t imagine how bad her exes were).
There was also the issue with the speed of their relationship; Jolie does point out to Gabriel as well…they’ve only known each other for “weeks” and already there’s love declaration and intense emotions going on here… that would scare me too!
Last but not least…the amount of french cursing, “putain”, “merde” and I think there was asshole, bastard and many more in French. I’m fine with curse words…and swearing just this might have been too much for me; it was in quite a lot of Gabriel’s conversation and thoughts. It might be part of his personality…but it did make me roll my eyes a bit when I saw them sprinkled so liberally all over this beautifully written book.
Besides these issues, the book is just beautiful. How the characters end up together at the end just worked for them. I liked it…but didn’t love it; I wouldn’t say its my favorite from the two Amour et Chocolat books I’ve read, but it was definitely a good read. Do try it out if you’re not read it; if you have, do share your thoughts about the book, the characters, or even the author! 😀