Saturday, December 08, 2012

Week-End's Minis XXXIV: Turning Up the Heat by Laura Florand

Turning Up the Heat by Laura Florand
self-published in October 2012
Top chef Daniel Laurier might not know what is wrong with his marriage or his wife, but he knows one thing for sure. He’s not losing her. So when he comes home to find his wife has run off to a remote Pacific Island, he decides it’s time to turn up the heat.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: none

What do you need to know? Daniel Laurier and his wife, Léa, were just kids, 19 and 18 years old respectively, and had just started dating when Léa's father, chef and owner of the three stars Michelin restaurant Relais d'Or, died from an unexpected heart attack. Immediately, Daniel had stepped up: he married Léa and took over the restaurant. The two of them work tirelessly to maintain the quality and the reputation of the restaurant - Daniel in charge of everything having to do with food and Léa, the accounts and the people.

Back then, it was crucial for them to insure their livelihood because they had Léa two younger siblings to raise. Ten years later, the Relais d'Or is still a three stars restaurant and Daniel has become a superstar chef. However, their success comes at a price. All the hard work means Daniel and Léa barely have time to be together... and lately, Léa is just so tired and all she wants to do is sleep. Deciding she needs a vacation, Léa heads for Tahiti and leaves a message on Daniel's voicemail letting him know she'll be back in one or two weeks.

Daniel has sensed that something has been wrong lately... but when he hears Léa's message, he becomes panicked and determined. He's worked so hard to deserve Léa, he won't lose her... and so he goes after her.

Why this book? I'm a fan of Ms Florand :) So when I heard about this novella, it was really a no-brainer to buy it :)

What did I like? Pretty much everything about Turning Up the Heat :) I loved Daniel and Léa, I think they were great characters. Their strength and determination, the hard work and sacrifices they made, their perseverance... It's really quite amazing. I also loved their chemistry, it's been a while I haven't seen a couple with such a strong chemistry. Daniel and Léa are just right for each other, especially after everything they went through together. However, what really worked for me was the story: a couple who married young out of circumstances, who are still together and working to stay together. I loved that Daniel went after Léa and fought for their marriage, for them. Also, what this novella shows is how marriage is hard work. I mean, Daniel and Léa stood together through lows and highs, faced the adversity together and yet, despite this bond, there is a chance that their marriage unravels because of their lack of communication. To a certain extent though, their lack of communication was understandable. They were young when they married and are actually still young... and there's feelings you just don't voice. For example,Daniel thought he had to deserve Léa and that all his hard work through the years were to prove his worth to her. I thought that part was really touching and I do think this is not something that a guy would willing voice though. The problem is that Léa never knew Daniel felt this way and I'm sure given a few years, this feeling of Daniel would have turned to resentment. It just goes to prove how communication is important to marriage. Also, I think that Ms Florand did a great job of making this novella feel real.

Finally, I want to give Ms Florand a thumb up for the length of Turning Up the Heat :) Obviously, I wouldn't mind reading more about Daniel and Léa, but since this was self-published, I feel that Ms Florand wasn't really restricted in length and therefore used the amount the words she needed to tell the story she wanted. The story felt complete and not rushed and this is rare with a novella :)

What didn't work for me? All right, so what I'm about to say is not really a complaint or an issue per se that I had with Turning Up the Heat... but it is the reason why this novella did not get an A from me. There's no doubt in my mind that Daniel and Léa loved each other very much and that they were meant for each other. However, I do think it's sad that as much as they loved each other, Daniel and Léa didn't seem to know each other ^_^; It's just a bit contradictory to me, because if they didn't know each other, how can they really love each other? Whom did they love then? Their younger selves or their perception of each other? So that's the one niggle I have with Turning Up the Heat and as much as I liked the story, I can't give it an A because it's an important niggle.

My Grade? B+ I really enjoyed Turning Up the Heat. I loved the couple, their chemistry and the story. Looking forward to reading more works by Ms Florand!