Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Book Tour, presented by France Book Tours, for The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand. Please leave a comment or question for Laura to let her know you stopped by. Laura will be awarding a print copy of The Chocolate Kiss to one randomly chosen commenter (U.S. Only). Please be sure to leave your comment and fill out the entry form below. You can follow her tour here for additional chances to enter to win.
The Chocolate Kiss
By Laura Florand
Amor ET Chocolat, Book 2
Publisher: Kensington Brava
Release Date: December 30, 2012
Genre: Literary Fiction/ Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 Pages
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About the book:
This book works perfectly as a standalone, the books in the series are really more like companion novels.
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 habitues 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 Lyonnais, who has the gall to open one of his world famous pastry shops right downthe 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, patissier princes and sweet wishes—an enchanting tale of amour et chocolat.
Up for Book of the Year at the Romantic Times convention!
Reviewers Choice Book of the Year nominee!
Winner of the Romantic Times Seal of Excellence.
Dear Author Recommended Read and a Best Book of 2013
Smart B*’s Sizzling Book Club Pick and a Best Book of 2013 for Kindle Love Stories
A Romance Novels for Feminists Best Book of 2012
ExcerptThe ring of Magalie’s boot heels started getting lost in the ring of other boot heels before she had even finished crossing the bridge. Trees rustling with late-autumn leaves extended along the river, forming the border between Paris and what she liked to think of as its heart, the islands in the middle of the Seine. She left the oldest bridge in the city, passing into the trees’ dappled shadows, and then cut away from the river and its islands to the busy Boulevard Saint- Germain. She wanted to huddle into her jacket, but she didn’t. She let it hang open, unzipped, as was proper fashion, and kept her chin up and her stride a long, powerful rhythm of heels against concrete.Yet, despite her best efforts, the farther she got from the island, the more she felt diminished. Far from her power base, she became just another Parisian woman trying so hard to be the sleekest, the sharpest, to let her boot heels ring the crispest, but becoming one of the millions who did it as well or better, who had more money for higher fashion or longer legs, who had no idea she could make a chocolat chaud you would sell your soul for. Really. The aunts had a signed deed for a famous actor’s soul behind the 1920s cash register among the chocolate molds, as a souvenir of a sorcière’s power.Around her, people moved briskly, harried out of bed by time and driven by it into work in the middle of a tense week, walking itself an aggression. Occasionally a tourist disturbed the flow, eager and bright-eyed and out early in the morning to soak up the city, with journals and cameras in tow. Unlike the tourists, Magalie did not stand out. Not in any way.In her bathroom mirror, she had looked exquisite, perfect, exactly the effect she had wanted to produce. On the island, rose bouquets had saluted her in affection and respect. But here—here she was just another pair of boot heels ringing on the sidewalk.By the time she got to Philippe Lyonnais’s Saint-Germain shop, she was only a twenty-four-year-old woman with limited funds to indulge her taste for fashion, in a big, tense, polished, sexy city.But he—his power was everywhere. His family name was on the Champs-Élysées, the rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré, here on Saint-Germain—all the power centers of this city. While she and her aunts kept enticing their secrets from the heart of Paris, he stamped his supremacy down over the whole damn city and let people fawn over him. His coat of arms was the gilt lettering on his shop awning. The exquisite nineteenth-century lines of his storefront reflected the glories of his family history. He came from a long line of rulers of Parisian taste buds.His shop door proclaimed that he didn’t open until ten. She frowned at it—and was surprised when it slid open and let her into an empty shop. That was the kind of thing that happened when Geneviève frowned at things.The interior was breathtaking. Panels of glossy wood and frescos were carved with the twining rosebuds that had been part of the Lyonnais décor since the first shop opened a century and a half ago. Lions’ heads growled in the molding at each corner of the ceiling. Green marble pillars climbed above the gleaming glass display cases whose contents were more tempting than those of any king’s treasure room and held more colors and richness than a chest of jewels. The tables and chairs seemed to come from a time when women wore sumptuous gowns of twenty yards of silk and men bowed over their hands.Her skin itched. She wanted to turn around and leave. The presence of even one clerk might have helped, someone who could try to snub her and thus get her pride up. But the opulent perfection was empty.Something congealed in her stomach, thick and treacly and sickening, as she realized her folly. Here, off her island, she was small and powerless. Glamorous, famous Philippe Lyonnais would look at her incredulously. He would dismiss her out of hand. Her territory was a small cave of a salon de thé on a small island. His rule extended over the whole city, and his influence stretched throughout the world.She settled her shoulders firmly back and down and opened the door at the back of the salon. And she stepped into an alien world.It was the first time she had ever been in a professional pastry kitchen or laboratoire. The quantity of metal struck her: the faces of cabinets and refrigerators under marble counters. Metal cooling racks. Great steel mixing machines. Shelves upon shelves, full of plastic boxes on top of boxes labeled with their contents. White-clad men and a few women bustled amid white tile walls and floors, bending intently over huge metal trays. One woman traced a circle stencil over and over onto a piece of parchment paper fitted into a huge metal sheet pan. Beside her, a man squeezed perfectly matching dollops of meringue out in row after row on similarly marked parchment paper. Another woman shifted macaron shells from a tray to a rack on a counter filled with racks.Multiple colors filled that metal background: rich green macaron shells, peach ones, a garnet red. Someone squeezed ganache from a pastry bag into the upturned shells. A gangly teenager scooped out avocados with deft competence, piling the empty skins in a little tower.Jokes and intense concentration seemed to intermingle, and someone passed with a great steaming pot, calling “Chaud, chaud, chaud!”A big man with a wide lion’s grin laughed suddenly, his mane flung back, his hands completely covered with some apricot-colored cream. A pastry bag had burst.His laughter expanded into the whole room, his energy embracing everyone and everything in it. And that bell in her shop rang again, pure and clear, piercing her through the heart—which hurt like hell—and holding her there, impaled for somebody else’s pleasure.Philippe Lyonnais.Her enemy. The man who was going to destroy them.
Laura Florand is the international bestselling author of the Amour et Chocolat series (The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, etc). Her books have been translated into seven languages, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Four of her past five books have been recommended reads by Dear Author and two have been Sizzling Book Club Picks by Smart B*, Trashy Books.
Laura was born in a small town in Georgia, but the travel bug bit her early. After a Fulbright year in Tahiti, a semester in Spain, and backpacking in New Zealand and Greece, she ended up living in Paris, where she met and married her own handsome Frenchman. You can find out quite a bit more about those crazy adventures in her memoir, Blame It on Paris. She is now a lecturer in Romance Studies at Duke University. Contrary to popular opinion, that means she studies and teaches French language and culture, rather than romance. Fortunately, French culture includes French chocolate, research to which she is very dedicated. You can catch some glimpses of that research in the books, on her blog, and on her Facebook site, where you are welcome to join her and other readers!
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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.My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Crowns