Thursday, January 23, 2014
Review: The Chocolate Temptation (Amour et Chocolat #6) by Laura Florand
She hated him.
Patrick Chevalier. The charming, laid-back, golden second-in-command of the Paris pastry kitchen where Sarah worked as intern, who made everything she failed at seem so easy, and who could have every woman he winked at falling for him without even trying. She hated him, but she’d risked too much for this dream to give up on it and walk out just so he wouldn’t break her heart.
But he didn’t hate her.
Sarah Lin. Patrick’s serious, dark-haired American intern, who looked at him as if she could see right through him and wasn’t so impressed with what she saw. As her boss, he knew he should leave her alone. The same way he knew better than to risk his heart and gamble on love.
But he was never good at not going after what – or who – he wanted.
He could make magic out of sugar. But could he mold hate into love?
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Source: Review copy provided by the author for my honest review:
There's something about this series - the evocative prose, the over the top passionate characters and the drool worthy food descriptions that sends me to my happy escapist reader place.
This series has a formula. The men are broody, controlling and confident. They come barreling through all demanding in pursuit of love but the women give right back and make them work for it. They love BIG. The stories are super angsty. I mean all of this in the best possible way. Florand knows how to write these heroes and angst in way that has me swooning, rather than shaking my fists in frustration. In this particular case, I like the formula. I expect the formula. It brings me comfort. So when she breaks that formula with a seemingly happy chef?? I was excited but a little nervous.
But... if you’ve read Amour et Chocolat #5, The Chocolate Heart, you noticed that the secondary character, Patrick, almost stole the show. I was DYING for his book!
Patrick is a successful sous chef and second in command to Luc Leroi (the hero of The Chocolate Heart) He's laid back, all sunshine and light. He just coasts through life, doing everything right, never getting frustrated about anything. He doesn't even aspire to own his own restaurant *gasp* or to obtain those three Michelin stars that are the driving force for every top chef, even though he's one of the best. He's happy being number two to Luc.
This frustrates French Pastry intern, Sarah Lin, to no end. How can he be so calm and just discard her pastries as imperfect when she struggles SO hard to make everything just right? She hates his attitude, yet wishes she could attain that level of calm herself. As the only female working in Leroi's kitchen, Sarah feels a tremendous pressure to succeed and not to show weakness.
This was such an interesting romance on so many levels. Whereas dark, standoffish and brooding is the standard behavior for almost all damaged heroes, Patrick wraps himself in a veil of lightness and humor to protect himself from being hurt. He's incredibly kind, loyal and thoughtful, making sure Sarah has breakfast every morning for example, but has to walk the line of not favoring her in the kitchen. I love how Florand addressed the issue of women working, in what is essentially a man's world, and how Patrick feels the need to not cross that boundary of making Sarah feel that her job is dependent on embracing or fending off his advances. It's a real issue in the workplace. He wants to protect her and show favoritism because he cares but he also knows that won't toughen her up or let her earn the respect she needs to do to work in a top kitchen.
The character's are flawed and they stumble on their way to their HEA but I think Patrick and Sarah's HEA is the one I most believe in. They really discuss their futures, outside of life in the kitchens, and talk about real sacrifices and compromises they would need to make for each other. There is also a a sense of heritage, expectations and loyalty in this story that made it stand out from the previous books in this series. It won't be easy for them but I just know they'll be ok.
And when Patrick calls her Sarahbelle.....ahhh *thud*
Final thoughts: The Chocolate Kiss is still my favorite but this is a strong #2.