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review 2016-07-01 18:22
Chase Me by Laura Florand
Chase Me (Paris Nights) - Laura Florand

Florand’s latest; I liked the characters and their dilemma a lot. The background was less specifically my thing than her other books, as I’m not generally invested in military stories (probably a result of being raised by two former anti-war protestors), but Chase and Violette were enough to get me through the story.

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/june-2016-round-up
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review 2015-09-04 18:42
A Wish Upon Jasmine
A Wish Upon Jasmine (La Vie en Roses) (Volume 2) - Laura Florand

A Wish Upon Jasmine is the 2nd full length book in Florand’s new series, set in Provence. I’ve been really enjoying this series, and this book was no exception–in fact, it might be my favorite so far! Several of the themes carry over from previous stories, especially the relationships within the Rosier family, and the secrets they keep from outsider and from each other.


Jasmine Bianchi’s father was from Provence, and after his death she gets word that she has been given a property in the town where he grew up. She is very good at what she does–creating new perfumes–and yet she’s been unable to shake the image of an old perfume called Spoiled Brat. Provence seems like a place to start over, since she’s still mourning her father and also a brief relationship that ended badly and that she sees as a betrayal. At the same time, she is wary of the Rosiers, based on the stories her dad told her when he was still alive.


Damien Rosier is ruthless, heartless. Everyone knows that. But in fact, he works to protect his family, to protect the town and region and keep it going despite changing times and business practices. And secretly, he wants someone to see him as something other than a shark. He thought Jasmine might have been that person once, but then he took over her company and she disappeared. When she shows up again on his home turf, he knows he will have to tread carefully.


I really loved this one a lot. The characters worked very well for me, despite the fact that the initial set-up might seem a little coincidental. Jasmine wants to hold a grudge against Damien, but one of her gifts is seeing things clearly, and it quickly becomes obvious that the heartless Damien Rosier she has in her head doesn’t entirely match reality. And Damien’s combination of ruthlessness and the feeling of being trapped in that role while no one really sees him also worked really well for me. (Damien = swoon fest, basically.)


I also love the way Florand writes about the land and the family history. It gives the love story a depth and texture that makes the whole thing so rich and beautiful. Each of the three stories in this series so far have looked at different ways of interacting with and reacting to history and responsibility, while at the same time, they have also built on each other, shading in different layers and meanings. Finally–I am very very interested in Antoine Vallier, the lawyer who attempts to go up against Damien. I’ll say no more!

Laura Florand is a Twitter friend and all around lovely person–she offered a review copy of this one, which I happily accepted. However, I am also genuinely a fan of her books and all of the opinions in this review are absolutely my own.


Book source: review copy from author

Book information: 2015, self-published; adult romance

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/a-wish-upon-jasmine-by-laura-florand
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review 2015-06-08 21:03
All For You by Laura Florand
All for You - Laura Florand

As previously discussed, I’ve really enjoyed Laura Florand’s books; she’s definitely one of my favorite authors and one I reach for for comfort reading. All For You is the start of a new series–this one is connected to the earlier Amor et Chocolat series, but also introduces some new characters.


I found that I was a little less fond of Joss than some of Florand’s heroes, because he’s so determinedly wrong through so much of the story. He’s a sympathetic character, and I had no doubt that he would eventually work through his issues. But it was also sometimes frustrating to see him not seeing Celie clearly, and to see him reacting in exactly the wrong ways.


That being said, for me Celie was really the heart of the book, with her mixture of toughness and vulnerability. She’s so much someone who cares about other people and yet who also knows her own worth. This doesn’t mean she’s always sure of herself–in fact, she’s quite often not–but I feel like seeing a heroine who won’t commit to a relationship without having that respect is really valuable.


I also found that the overall arc of learning to see each other truly was really important. And I loved the fact that Celie is allowed to be angry, and that the effects of her anger are shown. She’s not always right, but she’s also not condemned for being upset, for pushing back. I really appreciated that she’s allowed to be a little bit spiky. I also loved how much she bosses around her boss Dominique, not letting him get away with much and calling him on his choices when it’s something important.


And as usual, I loved the setting, and the wealth of little details in the writing. The echoes of fairy tales are little less pronounced but definitely there (I noticed one in particular). And Joss and Celie themselves: Celie’s relationship to the chocolate she makes, to the space she works in, Joss’s stubborn imposition of will on everything around him, and yet his willingness to apologize and try to make things right.


Book source: review copy provided by author

Book information: 2015, self-published; adult contemporary romance

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/all-for-you-by-laura-florand
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review 2015-02-09 17:29
Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand
Once Upon a Rose (La Vie en Roses Book 1) - Laura Florand

Once Upon a Rose is the first full length book in the La Vie en Rose series (there is a prequel novella, “A Rose in Winter,” and connections to the Amour et Chocolat books).


Personally, I’ve found the last few Amour et Chocolat books to be very emotionally intense, focusing as they do on characters who really have to struggle to work out their relationship and their own issues. I’ve liked that a lot, since the intensity fits those characters and stories. Once Upon a Rose is a little quieter, a little less obviously intense, and I found that I really like that too; the different kinds of stories fit different moods. Here there’s a sense of the characters essentially being okay, even if they don’t quite know it yet. Even in the big dramatic moments, I trusted that Matt and Layla cared enough about each other to work things out.


I love the sense of roots and rootedness, which comes up several times as an image. It works really well with the sense of family that pervades the book. It’s not that family is absent in the earlier books, but here it becomes even more central. And for Matthieu, it’s both a blessing and a burden. His journey in this story is of finding himself in relationship to his family and the responsibility of being the heir to the valley. It’s in finding a way to avoid replicating the mistakes of the previous generations, which continue to be felt. His grandfather loves his family, but he defines family too narrowly. It’s a question of how to honor traditions–real, important traditions–and at the same time be yourself.


And for Layla, it’s almost the opposite. She needs to find a place to be rooted and therefore nourished. Almost–and I know this is maybe a weird image, but I think it works–to be cultivated like the rose bushes (she equates herself with them several times). She’s a musician and performer, and part of her story is a powerful look at creativity and the need to rest and be fed in order to create. (I didn’t think of this at the time, but echoes of Gift from the Sea!) That tension between Matt’s need to care for the valley and Layla’s need to have some of it herself drives a lot of the story, both in the obvious plot and in the character stuff that’s happening underneath.


As always, the setting and writing are wonderful. I loved the texture of the descriptions, the rose petals and scents, the stone and thorns. And there are some fun fairy tale echoes, which I will admit it took me awhile to pick up. Florand is really good at these quietly lyrical moments, and they’re definitely present here. I loved every minute of this book, and I’ll be looking forward to whatever story comes next.


Book source: review copy from author
Book information: 2015, self-published; adult contemporary romance

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/once-upon-a-rose-by-laura-florand
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review 2014-05-23 23:28
Sun-Kissed (Amour et Chocolat) (Volume 7) - Laura Florand

A new short novel from Florand. This one is a bit different in that it 1) takes place in America and 2) focuses on the older generation, Mack Corey and Anne Winters. I really enjoyed the way Florand explores the different characters, who are more mature and self-confident than their children and their children’s peers in some ways, and yet still very vulnerable in others. I did miss the French setting a bit, but the sea-side is a lovely alternative. I loved the way Mack sees his daughters and sons-in-law; it was great to see some of the other characters from the Chocolat series through his eyes. All in all, this was a lovely endcap to Florand’s earlier stories (though if there are more in the future, I won’t be sad!)

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/recent-reading-short-stories-romance-and-middle-grade/#Sun-kissed
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