Not too long ago I read The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand and fell in love with her writing. Her use of food and cooking to describe a scene or even the unfolding relationship is a thing of beauty. So when The Chocolate Rose was offered there was no way I was going to pass it up.
Jolie Manon is a food writer. Her first cookbook was about her father but instead of exploding on the scene like she had hoped it would, it is hampered by her father having a stroke and not wanting to participate in publicity events. To top it off her father is being sued by Gabriel Delange for using recipes that he claims are his. The biggest issue is her father’s claim to fame and the cover of the cookbook, the legendary Rose. Apparently everyone in the world of cooking knew Gabriel created the Rose, except Jolie that is and she is the one that pushed to have it on the cover. Now they are going to have to pay the price.
Jolie thinks that maybe she can talk to Gabriel and get him to drop the suit. She doesn’t know what to offer him but she will try anything. When she arrives at his restaurant Gabriel mistakes her for a new employee and puts her to work. After several hours of slaving over deserts Gabriel decides to fire her and ask her out instead. He still doesn’t realize who she is but once she finally tells him he is enraged. How dare Pierre Manon send his daughter to do his dirty work?? That doesn’t change the connection Gabriel feels to Jolie and he knows he must work something out if he wants her to stay to get to know him.
Gabriel agrees that if Jolie will do a cookbook for him and stay close to his home for 3 days a week that he will let the lawsuit go. The cookbook is no hardship for Jolie because Gabriel is pretty famous and this might be another huge break in her career. Gabriel will really do anything to keep her close because he has fallen hard and fast. Somehow he must convince her that he is not a beast though and really a her prince. Consider he doesn’t know how to do anything but beast that will be a real stretch.
The two books by Ms. Florand that I have read both have the hero as the one who falls first. That leaves him in the unusual position of pursuing the heroine and not understanding why she won’t fall for him. Gabriel is pretty out there and blunt in his desire for Jolie. He has no filter and often thinks to himself that he just needs to keep his mouth shut. But he can’t. He is the type to just put everything out there. He is filled with boundless energy, overflowing with love and spirit and he so desperately wants to share it with Jolie. He is also very insecure about those desires. Women have not always appreciated the amount of energy he has to give.
Everything that was the best and most wonderful about himself, what expressed everything in him, all the energy and beauty and love, the heart of him that he could only communicate that way because every other way people always thought it was such a beast’s. Everything beautiful- and women always thought it was what made him the worst. What they couldn’t love.
If I had one tiny complaint about the book it would be Gabriel and his desire to give himself to everyone. I wish this had felt more personal to Jolie. I wanted her to be his special one and only, the one finally worth the effort to put all of himself out there. But I am a sap like that.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Each time I open one of Ms. Florand’s books I am captivated by her imagery, the life she brings to these huge personalities and her creative way of telling a story that revolves around food. With only two books read I can easily say I am turning into a huge fan and cannot wait for the next one. Final grade- B+
“You need to look at the bigger picture, with your ambitions,” he said urgently. “Never choose half of anything just to be safe, when you have a chance to have something whole and perfect.”