When I originally started the book I was having a reading slump, and had stopped at the 30% mark. I have just recently picked it up again and finally finished! I’d also done a post on a book look for this book, so do check it out here! So here is my review on the first of the La Vie En Rose series by Laura Florand, Once Upon a Rose!
Synopsis from Goodreads
She stole his roses.
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.Florand’s writing is absolutely beautiful and magical; it makes me do things I never thought I wanted to do. For example, I had never really wanted to travel to France, but all of her works which I’ve read, has caused me want to get on a plane to France. While I’m not partial to the fragrance of roses, this book has put the idea of me getting on a flight to France just to witness with my own eyes a field of blooming roses, that or go out and buy a bouquet of roses and sniff them all day long!
“A soft sweetness filled her lungs, as if all those crisp scents of thyme and rosemary and pine that had filled the air in the Provencal hills for the past few hours had decided to lay themselves down in a bed of roses for the night and go to sleep.”
Who wouldn’t want to take a visit to the Provence of France after reading that passage? The book is filled with absolutely beautiful and dreamy description of the French countryside and the field of rows and rows of rose beds.
“…the field of pink and green stretched all the way to the dryer green of the hills, a sea of roses that seemed to fill the world.”
Have I mentioned dreamy? It’s absolutely dreamy!
Let me get this quickly out of the way. Some of the issues I had with the book…probably the only issue I had with the book was the insta-attraction/love; which is a trope I’m generally not a fan of. While I do love the from enemies to friends trope, and the meet-cute of the main couple was adorable…it still didn’t make sense, how the main character, Matt, who had recently gotten out of a bad relationship, is so attracted to the heroine, Layla, who is suppose to be his “enemy”. Within a THREE DAYS period they get pretty attracted to each other. It gets to the point where the characters themselves are surprised by their own feelings, and they themselves point out that they’ve just MET. Perhaps, another small matter which might bother some readers would be, it can get a little repetitive as they express how they can’t believe how attracted they are to one another and how they make each other feel.
Asides from that, the book was still a lovely read, and as I’ve mentioned recently in a comment to another blogger: “Reading Laura Florand’s work is always a wonderful experience!” I can’t say enough how magical her writing is…sometimes its as though I could smell roses in the air; it feels as though if I drew back the curtains from my own window I would see the rows and rows of rose bushes. She really draws you into her world, and allows you to see what she wants you to see. I’ve probably mentioned this is a past review (perhaps in my review for Chocolate Rose), where I feel the setting of the book is a character of its own. It has its own history and its own responsibility in the book. It’s not just a place where the story plays out, nor is it just a location for the characters to be in, but it is an essential element to the story. You can’t just pluck the characters and put them anywhere on the map, like you could with some stories, with Florand, she creates a setting which is just as important as her characters.
Some of the best things about this book is the characters! I am a characters driven reader, and when I fall for a character I fall hard! From the beginning I was absolutely enchanted by Matt and his growling ways. He was just absolutely adorable! So much so, I had to stop reading to message a friend to squeal about my love for his growly ways. Growly, soft hearted Matt. Out of the few books I’ve read by Florand, Matt’s character is my favorite; from his insecurity to his grumbling growly ways, he was just so sweet and heartbreakingly adorable.
“It’s all right, Matthieu. You’re strong enough to be a valley and to be bigger than a valley…”
His need to be bigger than what he is; to be his “valley” and to protect it and his gruff growling manner, all of it just makes you want to put your arms around him and squeeze him tight, to protect his big grizzly fuzzy person from all the insecurity haunting him. Knowing how he just wants to protect his heart from being too mushy, and tender. He is just lovable in many ways.
Sadly, I did not feel the same for Layla. I could relate to her free-spirited wandering ways, having growing up as a third culture kid myself. It is difficult for me to stay bound to one location; the whole idea of “anywhere else but here”, the idea of trying to find a place to root myself to, to find “home”…I really do relate to that. I could also relate to her stress and fear of being unable to produce a second musical hit, to having been so naked and stripped down for judgement…it really must be tough.
“I’m always like that. I’m always the one with her heart stripped naked and held up for the crowd that sits on the grass, watching and judging and totally safe.”
So while I could relate, I just did not feel the same love for her as I did for Matt; and I really did want to love her. She doesn’t annoy me and she is a sweet, sweet girl, but neither does she stand out, in fact I felt more attraction to Allegra (Raoul’s girlfriend) than I do to Layla, and we barely see Allegra in the book.
Yet, them as a couple just made me laugh…A LOT! They were so cheesy together and some of their scenes were so dramatic in regards to the “feels” they were having for each other it was difficult not to laugh. Such as how Matt regarded himself to Layla’s smile:
“That smile she sometimes had for him made him so confusedly and vulnerably happy, as if he was a teddy-bear she was about to pick up and squeeze. He had never in his life felt very squeezable before.”
The book is filled with gems quotes like the one above, it is good enjoyable fluff.
Another thing to love about the book is the Rosier family members! The male cousins are such joy to read, I’m glad they will have their own stories! I love how close knit they are and how gruffly protective they are of each other. There are scenes in the book which makes you wish you could be right there with them laughing along with their jokes and nudging each other. They are definitely a delight to read! Wild and feral, Raoul; handsome and merciless, Damien (who makes James Bond look like a wannabe); mischievous and cheeky, Tristan; and there’s also the mysterious, Lucien. Really who wouldn’t wanna read about a family of boys with such traits! There is also the strong family bond, with Pepe and Tante Colette, they really bring in the history and the idea of roots to the story.
It’s also nice to see some other familiar characters from previous books such as Jolie from Chocolate Rose:
“She’s bad news,” Jolie explained. “Gabe hated her. She wouldn’t eat his desserts.” […] “What?” Jolie flung out her hands. “It shows a very unhealthy attitude towards life!”
I agree, someone who doesn’t eat dessert really does have a very unhealthy attitude towards life! You tell ’em Jolie!
I also love how there isn’t a drawn out misunderstandings issue! There are many situations where Florand could have drawn out a simple misunderstanding into a dramatic angst filled situation, but she doesn’t, instead her characters communicate. I love how there is constant communication: a man who knows how to apologize and a woman who knows when to reach out and to talk about it instead of running away. They don’t run out the door and allow an issue to fester into something uglier…nope, there’s none of that. Instead, they just come together and communicate! How can you not love that?
Would I recommend this? YES! Read it for the fluffiness, read it for the cuteness, read it for the hot unbelievable attraction the couple have for each other and read it to experience the French countryside. Read this if you’re up for some beautiful lyrical cheesiness! And I say it with lots of love and affection. AND you should definitely read this if you love to laugh or smile, because this book will make you do just that, be it laughing out loud or quietly smiling to yourself. The quote in the banner is actually one of my favorite from the book. The base image use is a photograph by Josh Felise taken from Snapstock.io. It’s been awhile since I’ve made a banner in this style…I thought it was fitting for Laura Florand and her roses.