Thursday, June 07, 2012

Review: All's Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand

Ouf, I wasn't sure how much I'd have to say on a novella, but guess it can come handy the fact that I can never keep a review short LOL. I was going to review The Rake by Mary Jo Putney, but the story is quite complex while All's Fair in Love and Chocolate isn't LOL. Plus I've been so brain-dead the whole week... I don't think I can do a good job. So All's Fair in Love and Chocolate it is! All's Fair in Love and Chocolate is Ms Florand's entry in the anthology Kiss the Bride. There are two other stories, one by Deidre Martin and the other, Christie Ridgway. I tried reading them, but hmmmm, I ended up skipping most of it. They just didn't grab my attention. I think part of it was because of the stories themselves, but another reason is I was simply too excited to read All's Fair in Love and Chocolate... Oups ^_^; Maybe I'll go back one day... In the meantime, enjoy my review of All's Fair in Love and Chocolate :)

Also a quick reminder, there's a few hours left before the poll for the next Week-End's Minis is closed!

All's Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand
published by Kensington in May 2012
Going undercover as a bride-to-be, food blogger Eloise Layne is determined to learn charismatic French chocolatier Simon Casset's famously guarded secrets. But somehow her man of mystery is succeeding in uncovering her every desire, one smoldering kiss at a time...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Paris Chocolatiers series, Book #0.5

The Story: Eloise Layne is an artist and a food blogger who's given up the safety and comfort of home, New York City, to live the Paris dream. She has moved in a tiny apartment and is enjoying her exploration of Paris... but her real goal is to meet her food idols and reveals their secrets to her readers, especially the incredibly private chocolatier Simon Casset - her favorite artisan. However, she did not expect to be too intimidated to even introduce herself and ask for interviews!

One day, while gathering her courage to step into Simon Casset's shop, Ellie is taking pictures of his display through the window and then, walks smack into the man himself! Flustered, Ellie comes up with a story: she's a bride-to-be comparing the different chocolatiers of the city to do the centerpieces at her wedding. This gives her the perfect excuse to visit his laboratoire and hopefully, get to know the man better.

What Ellie doesn't expect is the attraction she feels for Simon... and it's mutual! Now, how to get rid of a pesky fiancé when the sexiest man you've ever met is determined to seduce you away?...

My Opinion: I've been really excited to pick up Kiss the Bride, an anthology, all for Ms Florand's entry, All's Fair in Love and Chocolate, and it was totally worth it!! I loved this novella! It was simply sweet, cute and sexy :)

What I liked best in All's Fair in Love and Chocolate was the characters. Ellie and Simon were just so likable and really well-developed when you consider the length of the story. How can you not like Ellie who's a breath of fresh air with her bubbly energy and enthusiasm for Paris! Also, you can feel how much she loves what she does and have to admire her for moving to Paris to pursue her dreams! She was simply a delight to read :) In contrast, Simon is very intense and obsessive in regards to his work and that's what dominates his character. And so he is charmed by Ellie when he meets her, because she's so refreshing :) There's also an arrogant edge to him that comes from knowing he is one of the best at what he does that is incredibly sexy and Ms Florand really captured the French essence of his character well. You know when you have women in tv shows or romance books swoon at a man because he is French? Well this is the feeling I'm talking about :P

The romance was also very nice. I enjoyed it because it was intense, but also because I thought Ellie and Simon's characters complemented each other so well :) Another reason why it worked for me was that Simon knew right away that Ellie was lying about having a fiancé. So yes, Simon sets out to seduce Ellie, but it was seducing her for himself, not to get her away from another man... and it was really cute and sexy. One of my favorite moments is when Simon is frustrated with Ellie and wished she had given him a few seconds to figure out a way to start flirting with her instead of making up a fake fiancé :) I like it because it shows that Simon was attracted to Ellie from the first moment :) In any case, they were really cute together.

Finally, I cannot review All's Fair in Love and Chocolate without mentioning the setting. Ms Florand definitively captured Paris well. I know she knows the city and it really showed in the story :) She was able to share her love of the city with us, but at the same time, it wasn't over-romanticized. I also thought it was brilliant of her to combine her love of Paris with her love of chocolates and desserts. I really love the concept of the series and as a result, I can't wait to read more!!

While I really enjoyed this story, there are a few reasons why All's Fair in Love and Chocolate is not getting a perfect grade. First, I have to agree with most people about how long it took for Ellie to come clean to Simon. It's clear that what Ellie and Simon are developing between the two is  not a fling, it's something solid and serious, something that matters... and to have this big lie between the two, it's not the foundation on which you want to see this romance be built. Also, because of the lie, Ellie wondered many times about Simon seducing someone who is already engaged. That part didn't sit well either. At the beginning, to see Ellie so flustered and coming up with this story - about how her fiancé had a moped accident and later, started an affair with the nurse - it was good fun... but it dragged too long. Also, I love Ms Florand's writing and style, but there was a couple of time where I thought the wording of a sentence was a bit weird. I had to re-read it a couple of times to make sure that I got the meaning. Of course, that could simply be me ^_^; Last - something that doesn't really affect me  - was the use of the French in  All's Fair in Love and Chocolate. You all know it's one of my pet peeve when there are mistakes in French in the books. Well, it's not the case in All's Fair in Love and Chocolate, the French was faultless and the use reinforced the French feeling that makes this story unique... however, there was a lack of translation. Some of it is pretty obvious, but others... I wonder how non-French readers will feel.

My Grade: B. I really enjoyed All's Fair in Love and Chocolate and I can't wait to read more in this series! Welcome back on my auto-buy list, Ms Florand!