self-published in May 2014
They called her the Ice Queen.Genre: Contemporary romance
Anne Winters. Self-made billionaire. Household name. Divorced single mom. Convicted felon. She didn’t let anyone or anything get to her. No one was allowed to breach the walls around her heart except for her own son. She had only one trusted friend: her vacation house neighbor. They’d been walking the beach together for twenty years. Not that this gave him access to her heart, of course…
They called him a man who got what he wanted.
Mack Corey. Self-made billionaire. Dominant world player. Widowed father of the bride. No felony convictions yet, although his daughters had come close. He’d transformed his family company into one of the top 500 by the age of thirty. He’d raised two daughters who dumped him for idiot arrogant French chocolatiers and went off to live in Paris. Hell, he even managed to tolerate his dad. But that Ice Queen act Anne Winters had going was really starting to get to him…
They’d been friends for twenty years. Could they become lovers?
Could a frozen heart be kissed by the sun?
Series: Connected to Snow-Kissed and Amour & Chocolat series
The Story: For a change, Sun-Kissed takes place in the States :) Jaime and Dominique are celebrating their wedding and all of their families and close friends are there with them. Recently released from prison, Anne Winters needs something to occupy herself and has thrown all her energy into organizing the wedding.
Basically, for Anne Winters, think Martha Stewart, without the warmth ^_^; Anne Winters made her fortune by showing to people how to create homes through recipes, crafts and so on. She is known as the Ice Queen with a "fuck you" attitude which didn't endear her to the jury when she was accused of insider trade.
Mack Corey is also a self-made billionaire, king of chocolate in America. He's been Anne's neighbor for 20 years during which they've become confident. He has developed feelings for her, but never acted on it for fear of ruining their friendship... But after Anne has spent six months in prison, he knows it's time to let her know how he feels.
My Opinion: I've never been a fan of "older" main characters ^_^; Oh, as secondary characters, no problem... but as main characters? Not my cup of tea. Mostly because I don't connect with them since a lot of what they've lived, I haven't experienced :( Therefore, I had my doubts about Sun-Kissed when I found out that the main characters were Anne Winters and Mack Corey, both single parents in their 50s. However, Ms Florand proved me wrong and convinced me that I should branch out in my reading a little :)
One of reasons why I enjoyed Ms Florand's books so much is the intensity. She just has a way to communicate this intensity through her characters. You know that they're involved and in so many instance, the power of their feelings is just palpable. And it's not only good feelings like love and passion, but a lot of time, doubts and incertitude... I often feel that books are missing some oomph, but in the case of Ms Florand, the intensity is the oomph I'm looking for and therefore, she has it to spare. And with Sun-Kissed, Ms Florand showed me that young people don't have the monopoly on intensity :) It was quite interesting because Mack and Anne deal with their feelings quite differently. Mack is very expressive and is a man of action while Anne is known as the Ice Queen. Having gone through a number of miscarriages has turned into an introvert. Keeping her feelings to herself has been the way she has survived... However, it doesn't mean she feels less. I think her emotions and the intensity she felt them was as fierce as Mack, perhaps even deeper, and overall, it afforded a nice contrast in the story.
I mentioned above that I don't like reading about older characters because I don't connect with them... but in this case, it worked out so well because it was so refreshing! Mack dealing with an empty nest now that his second daughter is married as well. Also, facing the fact that both his daughters decided to live on a different continent. Anne's feelings about her son having married a woman that's the complete opposite of her. These are feelings that parents must feel, but that are rarely mentioned in romance... and it totally worked for me :)
Speaking of romance, I enjoyed Mack and Anne's. It happened quite fast, but given a 20-year-long friendship, it worked. Plus, there was a catalyst for Mack's finally revealing his feelings for Anne, it didn't come out of the blues. Mack felt helpless when Anne went to jail. Such a powerful man, but unable to help his friend. It also showed him how anything can happen and how they shouldn't waste their time. So yes, something else that worked for me :)
Personally, I don't know how well Sun-Kissed works as a stand-alone since I've read all the books it is connected to. However, for maximum enjoyment of the book, I do think that you need to read the other books. Otherwise, you'll miss the details that make you go "squeee" because a secondary character has appeared or did something :P I know I had fun reading Sun-Kissed for all the secondary characters :) In the very least, read The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Touch and Snow-Kissed.
My Grade: B. I hope Ms Florand is going to continue writing novellas/short stories because most of them are winners for me :)