The Heart of Paris
Welcome to La Maison des Sorcieres. Where the window display is an enchanted forest of sweets, a collection of conical hats delights the eye and the habitués nibble chocolate witches from fanciful mismatched china. While in their tiny blue kitchen, Magalie Chaudron and her two aunts stir wishes into bubbling pots of heavenly chocolat chaud.
But no amount of wishing will rid them of interloper Philippe Lyonais, who has the gall to open one of his world famous pastry shops right down the street. Philippe's creations seem to hold a magic of their own, drawing crowds of beautiful women to their little isle amidst the Seine, and tempting even Magalie to venture out of her ivory tower and take a chance, a taste. . .a kiss.
Parisian princesses, chocolate witches, pâtissier princes and sweet wishes--an enchanting tale of amour et chocolat.
Praise for Laura Florand and her novels
"Charming and laugh-out-loud funny." --New York Times bestselling author Deborah Smith
"Readers will be happy to live vicariously in Laura's French fairytale." --Booklist
"Frothy, French confection of a novel." --Publishers Weekly
"Both sensual and sweet. . .a story that melts in your mouth!" --USA Today bestselling author Christie Ridgway
"Vive la Laura Florand!" --Cassandra King
About the Author
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The Chocolate Kiss
By Laura Florand
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2013 Laura Florand
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt was a good day for princesses. The rain drove them indoors, an amused little rain with long, cool fingers that heralded the winter to come and made people fear the drafts in their castles.
And Magalie Chaudron, stirring chocolate in the tea shop's blue kitchen, felt smug to be tucked into the heart and soul of all this warmth, not wandering the wet streets searching for a home.
Aunt Aja smiled at her in that quiet way of hers, her long black braid swaying hypnotically against the gold-brown silk of her salwar kameez tunic as she prepared a pot of tea. Aunt Geneviève had taken her giant umbrella and gone out for a stride, just to prove that rain couldn't confine her, no matter what it might do to anyone else. That was fortunate, because whenever Aunt Geneviève started feeling confined, the kitchen shrank to the size of a pin, and its other occupants weren't angelic enough to dance around each other atop it.
In the tiny salon de thé on the Île Saint-Louis, their first "princess" of the day, a businesswoman with straight, light brown hair, sat under the conical hats that filled three high, rickety wooden shelves wrapping around the entire room. Above the businesswoman's head sat a jester's cap, a stack of three shiny black and gold paper party crowns from New Year's 2000, and an Eiffel Tower–shaped hat that had shown up in a box in the mail one day with a note from a customer: When I saw this, I could not resist sending it to you. Thank you for your beautiful haven. It brought me more pleasure than you can know.
"Thanks," the brown-haired woman was saying to the business-suited man across from her when Magalie carried a tray out to Madame Fernand, whose poodle was, for a rarity, actually curled up on the elegant old woman's feet and licking up crumbs rather than trying to lunge at everyone else's table. Before going out, Geneviève had sprinkled crumbs generously under that table the moment she'd spotted Madame Fernand approaching the shop. The eighty-year-old grande dame had been bringing a dog everywhere she went for decades, starting back when she could still cling to physical proof of her days as a reigning beauty and train her dogs to behave. "This is perfect," the brown-haired woman said. She had a heavy American accent but was speaking in French. "Exactly what I needed."
"I thought you would like it," the man said with a smile. He was old enough to be her father, with a gold wedding ring so heavy and thick, Magalie was surprised he could stand to wear it. "It makes a nice break from meetings, doesn't it? Although I'm afraid they don't use your chocolate, Cade."
"No one in France uses our chocolate," Cade said ruefully. "That's the problem. But this ..." She sighed and rubbed the back of her neck and then smiled. "If I ever run away to join the circus, this will be the circus I join."
Circus? This utterly stable center of the world? Magalie gave the woman called Cade a cool look as she served Madame Fernand. The wood-and-enamel tray held a generous portion of Aunt Aja's tea in a beautiful cast-iron teapot; a delicate, ancient, flowered cup with a tiny chip in the base; and a slice of rose chess pie, one of Magalie's contributions to the salon de thé's recipes, the chess pie recipe inherited from her father's mother, the rose inspired one day by Madame Fernand's perfume.
"In a manner of speaking," the businesswoman-circus-dreamer said. While they nicknamed most of their female clients princesses, meaning women who indulged themselves with problems they didn't know how to fix, Magalie was kind of surprised at this one. The other woman felt strong. "Can you imagine? Making exquisite chocolate by hand instead of huge machines—all that mystery and magic? You would feel like a sorcerer. No wonder the owners call this shop The Witches' House. It must be wonderful to enchant people all the time."
The businessman across from her was giving her a blank look. The woman—Cade—realized it and straightened, smiling ruefully, and her dream sank right back down inside her, hidden under a professional, assertive calm.
Magalie gave her a disgusted look. What was the use of being assertive if you were asserting yourself over yourself? In the kitchen, she gave her pot of chocolate a firm glare, and—even though she knew she was being silly and that it couldn't really work magic on people, no matter what the aunts liked to pretend—she wished some gumption into the other woman, as she stirred the pot three times with the ladle: May you realize your own freedom.
Then she whisked up a separate cup for the businessman, because the last thing someone wearing that big a wedding band needed was to "realize his own freedom" while sitting across from a woman young enough to be his daughter.
"Give her this, too." Aunt Aja set a pot of tea on the tray as Magalie started to leave the kitchen again with it. The scent from this tea was spicier than Madame Fernand's rose and lavender, more adventurous. "Some nuts are harder to crack than others."
The brown-haired businesswoman's eyes took on a startled brightness as she breathed in the scents of the chocolate and tea slid before her. She reached out and touched the chocolate cup—hers was thick, handle-less, with a black-on-sienna African motif—tracing her finger along the rim.
The silver bell over the door chimed with such loveliness that Magalie gave it a startled glance. Maybe the rain had put it into a good mood. The two women who walked in with the chime had to be mother and daughter, the younger woman lithe, as if she was constantly in motion—dance, maybe? Her gold hair was caught up in a careless clip like that of a dancer between practices. Her mother was much stouter, her makeup too afraid of imperfection, her haircut the professionally maternal one of a woman who has long since decided to live only for her daughter.
"Oh, look at this, honey," she said, in American. "Isn't this the cutest place you ever saw?" Magalie was going to give her a cup of chocolate that taught her a sense of aesthetics. The place was not cute. "Can you believe how much of the world you're seeing?"
Her daughter flexed her hands, massaging between the tendons. "Mmm," she said. She looked tired. But her gaze traveled around the shop, curiosity and a kind of hunger waking slowly in her eyes. It was a look that Magalie, after working in this shop all through university and full-time for the three years since, had seen more times than she could count. "I wouldn't mind seeing more of it, Mom."
"Well, we will. My goodness, honey, you're touring New Zealand and Australia next month. With a stop in Honolulu! Should we take that engagement in Japan? It's good timing for the way back. Would you like that? We haven't been there since you were sixteen, have we?"
"I went with a group from school for a performance while I was at Julliard," her daughter reminded her.
"Oh, that's right. Your father had his operation, and I couldn't come."
The two women slid into seats at one of the tables in the tiny front room, tucked between the old upright piano and the window display: a dark-chocolate house in the middle of a menacing forest of enormous, rough-hewn, dark-chocolate trees, the house so covered with candied violets and candied mint leaves and candied oranges, it was almost impossible not to reach out to break off just a little bite. The daughter gazed at it but folded her hands, still rubbing her fingertips into her tendons.
If a few more princesses had spines, it would do them a world of good, Magalie thought with a huff of irritation, and back in the kitchen she shook her head at her chocolate as she stirred it: May you love your life and seize it with both hands.
Aunt Aja took that tray out, and just as she left the kitchen, the silver bell over the front door rang with a chime so sharp and true that it pierced Magalie straight through the heart. She clapped her hands over her ears to try to stop the sound, the ladle clattering across the counter, splattering chocolate.
But the tone kept vibrating inside her body, until she stamped her boots twice and slapped the counter to force it to stop.
A warm voice, not loud but so rich with life that it filled the entire shop, wrapped itself around Magalie and held her, making her strain with startled indignation against the urge to shiver in delight. "What a wonderful place," the golden voice alive with laughter was saying to Aunt Aja. "La Maison des Sorcières. The Witches' House. Do you ensorcell all your passersby, or do you enchant strictly children?"
Magalie tilted her body back just enough to peek past the edge of the little arched doorway that led into the kitchen. Through the second arch, the one that separated the tiny back room from the equally tiny front part of the shop, she got a glimpse of broad shoulders and tawny hair, a sense of size so great that a sudden dread seized her. If he should shrug his shoulders, the whole shop might burst off them, like staves bursting off a barrel.
But he was in perfect control of that size. Nothing around him was in any danger, not even the chocolate spindle hanging over the display case specifically to be such a danger and poke people in the forehead if they leaned too close.
Now there was someone who didn't need her help. She smiled at the ladle as she picked it up. What could she wish for a man so full of life and power? May all your most wonderful dreams come true.
The silver bell chimed again, dramatically. Aunt Geneviève came back in, taking a moment to shake her umbrella energetically at the street before it could bring in rain. Now two people of enormous character filled the shop, and for a second Magalie felt like a marshmallow that had just been sat on by an elephant.
"No, I'm sorry, nothing for me," the warm voice told the aunts. "I just had to peek in. Next time I'm here"—he laughed, and Magalie broke down at last and shivered extravagantly with pleasure—"I promise I'll stay and let you bewitch me."
The silver bell chimed again, glumly this time.
Magalie left the kitchen, hurrying to the archway into the front room. Through looming chocolate trees, she met vivid blue eyes looking back into the shop. While she looked straight into them, he likely could not see her, hidden as she was by the angle of the light. Raindrops fell on his head, and he shook himself like a lion shaking out its mane, saying something to the man in a business suit beside him. Then he strode on.
Aunt Geneviève raised her eyebrows, caftan sweeping out around her six-foot frame to dominate even more of the space as she turned to look after him with some interest.
Magalie retreated to the kitchen, her whole body relaxing in relief. She didn't know what had almost happened there, but thank God it hadn't. Absently, she picked up the cup of chocolate she'd been preparing for the lion of a man, cradling it in her hands as she drank from it.
Its warmth sank into her. "You know, I should have lent him an umbrella," she murmured vaguely. Some of the umbrellas princesses forgot to take with them when they left were very fine indeed.
"If you hand that man something, it had better be a gift, because if he likes it, he's not going to give it back," Aunt Geneviève said, propping her black umbrella against the kitchen's arch. Even folded, it came up to Magalie's shoulder. Geneviève was Magalie's blood relation in the aunts' couple—her mother's sister—but no one would be able to tell it by their sizes. "Anyway, it does big cats like him good to get wet from time to time," Geneviève muttered.
Chapter TwoMagalie was enchanting children with morsels of her dark-chocolate house two weeks later when the bearer of bad news burst in.
In this case, it was the toyseller from the quixotic shop four doors down. "Have you heard who's coming to the island?" Claire-Lucy gasped.
Magalie retained her calm, continuing to break off house pieces to pass around to the children. Even if Superman himself was stopping by to sign autographs, the island in the heart of Paris and Magalie's place in it would stay the same. And that was what mattered.
The aunts claimed a share of the credit for the chocolate house, but Magalie was the one who had designed September's display. It was pure dark chocolate, of course. They didn't really do milk chocolate at La Maison des Sorcières. But Magalie had fitted out the window frames with long strips of candied lime peel, and the roof was thatched with candied orange peel. Up the walls of it, she had twined such delicacies as flowering vines made from crystallized mint leaves and violet petals, both personally candied by Aunt Aja, a delicate, tricky business that involved the brushing of egg whites and sugar onto hundreds and hundreds of mint leaves and fragile violet petals with a tiny paint brush. Over and over. Only Aunt Aja could do it. Geneviève and Magalie soon started throwing things.
Feeding these works of deliciousness to impressionable young children was one of Magalie's favorite moments of each month. Aunt Aja had confessed that the first few times she and Geneviève had concocted elaborate window displays such as this one, they had been young and refused to destroy their work, leaving it to time itself to decay it with the pale brown bloom on the chocolate. At which point, it was no longer even remotely as delicious as it once could have been. The lesson, according to Aunt Aja, was one of recognizing transience. But Magalie hated transience, so she put it into other terms: one must always know when to yield magic into the hands of the children who wanted to eat it up.
So they made their displays fresh every few weeks, and from all over the Île Saint-Louis and the further hinterlands of Paris, children showed up on the first Wednesday of every month—Wednesday was the day children got off school early—dragging parents or nannies by the hand, to eat the witches' candy.
In front of September's witch house, lost in a forest of dark-chocolate tree trunks, a tiny black hen pecked in a little garden. The black hen had been formed in one of Aunt Geneviève's extensive collection of heavy, nineteenth-century molds, gleaned from a lifetime of dedicated flea-marketing. Deep among the chocolate tree trunks was also a chocolate rider on a white-chocolate horse, a prince approaching, perhaps to ride down the black hen and be cursed, perhaps to beg a boon. Magalie and her aunts never told the story; they only started their visitors dreaming.
She gave three-year-old Coco a violet-trimmed bit of vine that the child had begged for and studied their bearer of bad news. La Maison des Sorcères' eat-the-witches'-display-day was Claire-Lucy's biggest-business day of the month.
"You haven't heard who's going in where Olives was?" Claire-Lucy insisted. Her soft mouth was round with horror, her chestnut hair frizzing with its usual touchable fuzz all around her head. "It's Lyonnais!" She stared at the aunts and Magalie, waiting for them to shatter at the reverberation of the name.
Magalie's cozy tea-shop world was not crystalline or fragile, so it didn't exactly shatter on its own. It was more as if a great, Champagne-glossed boot came down and kicked it all open to merciless sunshine.
Magalie had been wrong. So wrong. Perhaps Superman could come through and leave her world untouched. But Lyonnais ...
She looked at her aunts in horror. They looked back at her, eyebrows flexing in puzzlement as they saw her consternation.
"Lyonnais," she said, as if the name had reached out and tried to strangle her heart. She stared at Aunt Geneviève. Aunt Geneviève was strong and rough-voiced and practical in her way. She knew how to fix a constantly running toilet without calling a plumber. She was tough-minded. But she didn't seem to get it, her eyebrows rising as the intensity of Magalie's dismay seemed to build rather than diminish.
"Lyonnais!" Magalie said forcefully, looking at her Aunt Aja.
Aunt Aja was as soft-voiced and supple as a slender shaft of tempered steel. Her dimpled fingers could press the nastiest kink right out of a back. Wrong-mindedness had no quarter around her. Her gentle strength seemed to squeeze it out of existence, not by specifically seeking to crush it but by expanding until foolishness had no room left. Her head was on so straight, the worst malevolence couldn't twist it. But she looked at Magalie now with a steady concern that crinkled the red bindi in the middle of her forehead. Concerned not because Philippe Lyonnais was opening a new shop just down the street but because she didn't understand Magalie's reaction to it.
"Philippe Lyonnais!" Magalie said even more loudly, as if she could force comprehension. "The most famous pastry chef in the world! The one they call le Prince des Pâtissiers!" Was it ringing any bells at all?
Excerpted from The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand Copyright © 2013 by Laura Florand. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Spellbinding, magical, sensual... I savored this enchanting romance novel a blissful morsel at a time. The narrative flow is always fluid and emotionally intense, but while the previous book in the Chocolate series (read my review of The Chocolate Thief) featured comedic elements, lighthearted tones and a more lean pace, The Chocolate Kiss seems to belong to a more introspective breed of romantic fiction: more sedate the pace, more nuanced the characters. In her new novel in fact, Laura Florand doesn’t simply spin a love tale around the luring power of chocolate, “symbol of cozy warmth and epitome of pure temptation”. She explores the complexity and fragility of a woman's heart torn between different heritages and languages, interrupted friendships and lack of roots, individualism and loneliness. The course of true love never runs smooth, and despite the fairy tale quality of the novel, Laura Florand brings to the table some deeper issues (the importance of "blooming" where we were born, self-esteem and confidence in our ability to make other people love us, mutual trust between partners) that will prevent Magalie from opening her heart to Philippe right away with joy and confidence . Under this point of view, Philippe is much more open to love. He is immediately enchanted by the quainty neighborhood and cozy tea shop, not to mention instantly seduced by Magalie’s fragile personality, the scent of her hot chocolate “maddening powerful”. Our characters conduct a war of pride for a good part of the book and most of their meetings will end up in verbal duels, but when they argue Philippe feels "aroused and infuriated and so alive”; at the caramel smell of him Magalie feels “all silky and vulnerable”. When she finally lets her obstinate guard down, every doubt, every argument, dissolves in sheer desire and searing sensuality. ”She, who loved chocolate so much, found herself burying her nose in [his] caramel scent like a warm and golden refuge.” They perfectly complement each other, like hot chocolate and molten caramel...such a contrast and harmony in this combination. Remarkable, as usual, Florand’s descriptive narrative and strong sense of space and vivid depiction of the Parisian setting, particularly charming during the winter season. I love the spectacular visuals of the cobblestone sidewalks of the Île-Saint-Louis carpeted with snow, Magalie's cozy apartment on the seventh floor of a 17th century building, a blurred view of the Eiffel Tower, the yellow-pink of a lazy dawn, la patisserie down a narrow and charming street, a cup of chocolat chaud...I found myself traveling back to my beloved Europe on the pages of a book. Superb!
An enchanting combination of hot chocolates, sweets and a feel-good, fluffy romance! I love reading about effective love-hate relationships which come from a legitimate and believable conflict between the two characters involved. The Chocolate Kiss gave me just that, and more! Plot-wise, the whole story wasn't really something new. Admittedly, business rivals ultimately falling for each other has been the done before, but the way the whole story was delivered was definitely unique and magical. Character-wise, I could definitely understand and relate with Magalie. She's strong, independent and she's determined to make a place for herself. And when something or someone threatens to destroy that small haven of hers, she goes out of her way to show that she's not going to be some small pushover. That's what I really liked about her - that she was brave and wasn't keen on putting up with something less than she deserved. Then there's also Philippe - the prince patisserie. The way he stated facts about himself at the beginning always sounded conceited and proud. Personally, I found him a little too cocky as well, but he grew on me nonetheless. He's just out to prove that aside from coming from a family of renowned patisserie, he didn't get where he was by his familial association alone. He also worked hard and gave in as much effort as everyone else. When it came to Magalie, he was willing to fight hard to fit into her castle without taking her out of it. And I really appreciated that in him. The banter between the Magalie and Philippe during the first half of the story was endearing and entertaining. And while they always bickered, they learned a little bit about each other within each encounter. And the setting is in Paris! It's just the perfect setting for one bickering couple. Plus, it also didn't hurt that they dealt with so many mouth-watering goodies. Reading this story at wee hours of a really cold night didn't help my craving for hot chocolate. Oh, and the magical chocolate whispers were one of the things I really loved! I also found it quite adorable how this story involved the romance between a witch and a prince.
Never have I read a book with so much passion, sensuality, and longing as The Chocolate Kiss. To be perfectly honest, I can't even write a true review of The Chocolate Kiss because I'm a jumbled-up mess of word vomit and big feelings. I'm basically keeping myself on a tight leash here. I can't really wrap my mind around the ways I loved the story. I went into The Chocolate Kiss expecting an amazing story. I have no hesitation with my expectations because this is the fifth of Florand's books I've read and every single one of them has been a remarkable reading experience. Here, we have a heroine in Magalie who's built the thickest, strongest walls around her heart, and a man, Philippe, who doesn't want to destroy those walls, but simply wants her to make a space for him. The antagonism between the two is thick and tense, as is the passion. The build-up is kept at a low simmer...until it just boils over and man, is the passion ever on from then forward. Florand has an unparalleled knack for creating the best men. They are alpha men who aren't jerks, but very passionate and confident. Stubborn when it comes to winning the woman they love's heart. They express their love through their work, be it the world's finest chocolate, a sugar spun confection, or a macaron made to embody their affection. The passion in this story was remarkable. I do not understand how any writer can describe making hot chocolate or a macaron as more passionate than actually making love, but Laura Florand does it. Like a boss. Florand's writing unfailingly takes my breath away. As I read The Chocolate Kiss, I would continually grab my (very indulging) husband's arm and sigh dramatically. He would smile and say "You love it so much, yeah?" I would sigh even harder and more dramatically, read a beautiful passage, and then I would say "See how much he loves her? How patient he is? How careful he is with her heart?" This cycle repeated itself throughout my reading of the book. Did I mention my husband is indulging? Laura Florand has secured her place as my favorite author. I emphatically recommend The Chocolate Kiss specifically, and her entire work as a whole. "Magalie. I didn't want you to make me have to do this, because you're so sensitive about competition. But if you want chocolate, I can make chocolate"--he leaned toward her a little, his teeth showing sharp-- "that will melt your insides out." She lifted her chin him, feeling those insides melt just at the thought of him trying "So here I am, torn apart. I really didn't want to be torn apart. I liked who I was." "You liked your tower," he murmured, his voice almost an apology. "Do you really think I broke it? I just wanted to make room for me inside."
I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review. I rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars. A young woman who thinks she’s a princess in a tower, two magical godmothers (aunts) and a prince (pastry chef) ready to storm the castle (shop) are the basis of Laura Florand’s contemporary romance The Chocolate Kiss. Set in a small town outside of Paris with plenty of emotional angst, chocolate and pastry, Ms. Florand’s story swept me away. Reminiscent of the film, Chocolat, The Chocolate Kiss is an epicurean delight. Living with her aunts above their small café, La Maison des Sorcieres, Magalie Chaudron thinks of herself as a princess waiting for a prince. Believing her dreams and wishes, along with those of her “witchy” aunts, can literally be imparted into a pot of hot chocolate, Magalie and her aunts create one a kind window displays to lure their customers into the story. Everything is going according to plan until the day that Philippe Lyonnais, a world famous pastry chef, decides to open a bakery down the street and lures customers in with his creations. Creations that tempt Magalie to venture out of her castle and sample a taste of the pastry and the chef. Ms. Florand does a wonderful job developing Magalie’s character; at once practical and whimsical, Magalie is unsure of her place in the world and of what she wants out of life. When she confronts Philippe about his “audacity” at building a bakery down the street from their shop, Magalie is given a glimpse of life beyond what she knows. Ms. Florand also does a good job developing Philippe; while more practical in his approach to life, he too has a romantic soul and a belief in the magic of pastry. The secondary characters are well developed and I especially enjoyed getting to know Magalie’s two aunts, Aja and Genevieve. Somewhat whimsical themselves, both women don’t always understand Magalie, or what their place in her life will be, but they do love her unconditionally. The remaining secondary characters are mostly the other shop owners in town and their customers; all colorful characters on their own. Will Magalie take a chance on leaving her tower and falling in love? Will chocolate or pastry win the day? You’ll have to read The Chocolate Kiss to find out. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ms. Florand’s work, and now I’m off to get my own bowl of chocolate.
I really enjoy these books!
A very fun novel.....i really adored this book
The Very Best! This romance is the best in so many ways. It has the best retelling of a fairy tale I have ever read in the Romance Genre and given the amount of books I have read this is no small feat. It has an amazing non Man Ho hero and fierce gotta a lot of emotional growing to do heroine. Its set in Paris and the setting is a compelling character in the book. The secondary characters are notable, insightful, and wonderful. Its real. I love these kinds of romances the most. We can have this real love as the flawed people we. Those of us lucky enough to have this kind of love see what real love looks like shining back to us in these pages are are affirmed. It has the best food play scene. Bar none. Game over. The publisher is Kensington so the ebook is lendable which always makes me happy. Now, lets talk about the gifts of this writer. Her style, much like the dark chocolate that this novel is dipped in, may not be for everyone but for me she hits all the right notes and weaves all the arcs into fine music that had me up reading all night. The little metaphors and descriptions of food, the body, the city, weather, and feelings are startling yet subtle. She handles the psychological complexity of her characters and their motivations within the fram work of grand romantic tropes and their reimagining; Enemies to Lovers, May-December, and Rapunzel with such grace. And whipped cream on top-- the book is funny and fun and heartwarming and heartbreaking and oh so lovely.
Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite "The Chocolate Kiss" by Laura Florand has delightful overtones of the classic "Bell, Book and Candle". Magalie Chaudron works for her aunts Aja and Genevieve in their "salon de the" (tea shop) on the Ile Saint-Louis in the heart of Paris. Magalie makes the chocolate chaud for her aunts' shop which is called La Maison des Sorcieres (The Witches House) and as she makes the chocolate, she makes wishes for the customers ordering it. Magalie, Aja and Genevieve change the front window of their shop each month, designing settings such as a witch's house with chocolate and other candy creations. Children from all over Paris come to La Maison des Sorcieres on the first Wednesday of each month to help eat the candy from the window display being dismantled. And then, torment and trouble comes to the Ile Saint-Louis as gifted, wealthy Philippe Lyonnais is opening a shop soon, in fact on January 15, down the street from La Maison des Sorcieres. Philippe is the most famous pastry chef in the world. Magalie dresses in her Parisian best and goes off to tell Philippe Lyonnais that he and his shop are not welcome on the Ile Saint-Louis. Will Philippe's exquisite confections take business away from Magalie and her aunts and will he ever be able to tempt Magalie to try one of his pastries? "The Chocolate Kiss" is a delightful story of sexual attraction as Magalie, raised on two continents by loving parents, is pursued over and over by successful chef Philippe Lyonnsais. Magalie, her delightful, whimsical aunts Aja and Genevieve, and large, handsome Philippe are wonderful characters. Food lovers will be over the moon with delight as they read "The Chocolate Kiss" as recipes for creme, chocolate, and raspberries roll forth from its pages. The plot is basically one of Magalie and Philippe slowly coming together like one of Philippe's incredible, edible creations. Don't miss this delight of a romance, complete with Magalie's recipe for chocolat chaud at the story's end.
The Chocolate Kiss follows the usual line of Romance Chick-lits, is packed with cliches and very predictable. BUT who cares?! If it stars a tawny, blue eyed, tall, well built gorgeous french dude that creates the most amazing treats for her. Honestly he had me at french dude… but a man that makes macaroons? the best in Paris? That alone should be sufficient to give 5stars…. ;) It's a sweet and fast read. With many aspects that I really enjoyed. But its nothing new or amazing. To be honest the food writing parts reminded me of Chocolate. And as I said before it was utterly predictable. The love scenes - for those of you who enjoy the more smutty reads- are not mind-blowing or amazing, in fact they are rather forgettable. The character building is alright, I guess. Though to be honest I found it quite hard labored and pulled together. All the explanations on why Magalie has commitment issues, are a bit long drawn. And after the scene with her mother at the train station- I kinda was irritated by it. I honestly didn't care much why she has them! I am aware that this is the authors attempt to give the story and its characters depths, but I think it was a unfruitful,clumsy and utterly unnecessary attempt. This novel shines on the sensual writing and I for one would have been happy with a totally lighthearted affair. While I kinda enjoyed the french words and sentences that were thrown in- I am wondering how readers who neither know french nor Paris will feel about it. I always find it a tricky thing to write the book in a language that the characters aren't actually speaking. I get why Florand chose to go the route she went, to give it more of a Parisienne identity- but at times it feels a bit distracting. So I am wondering if that approach is not more distracting than helpful. Despite all this and the fact that I wouldn't bother watching this a movie- I was grinning through most of the book. And felt positively enchanted by it after finishing. I loved the banter and fight between Magalie and Philippe. I liked that neither of them were pushovers or would give in, but neither couldn't let go as well. The scenes of Paris are beautiful- especially Paris in the snow. The parallels to Rapunzel is really clever- though I might be biased slightly, it always was my favorite grime's tale and living high up in a tower in Île Saint-Louis is definitely a hell yes from me. The best part no question were the food scenes. I enjoyed every second of it. I do have a thing about macaroons, so that might have something to do with it. Florand's descriptions of the food making are beautiful, seductive, tempting and sensual. And what are to be truthful a big My favorites are the descriptions of the macaroon making. Though all of the food scenes are thoroughly scrumptious! As I said I have a thing about macaroons and those passages had me yearning for a trip to Herme or Sprungli, pondering over those white peach macaroons I had last summer and considering baking some for myself…. The idea of the magical ingredient made me grin every time- because i really believe that it exists , the smile from the bottom of your heart as you stir the chocolate chaud. That's the secret ingredient in all wonderful meals! If there were a place like La Maison des Sorcieres, I would spend every afternoon of my life there! More so I found myself wishing to own a place like it! Looking forward to the next book series! 3.5Stars rounded up