Laura Florand is easily one of my favorite authors anymore. Her Amour et Chocolat is wonderful and all of the books and even novellas were 4 or 5 stars. She has a way of writing familial relationships that is really touching and realistic. Those relationships have included a variety of actual families – cousins and parental connections – as well as brotherly love between the chefs in that series. So I was incredibly excited to hear that she was starting a new series.
This series will concentrate on the Rosier family, set in the south of France. Where the descriptions of the chocolate in the previous series would make my mouth water and my stomach growl, the descriptions of the fields of roses and the amazing aroma made me long to be there to take it all in. Florand deftly switched from one to another of the senses. Her descriptions remind me of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy even though the subjects couldn’t be further from each other! They both create vivid pictures of wine, perfume and their settings.
Matt Rosier is one of my favorite type of Florand heroes- adorably growly but sensitive. Matt has inherited the land that came down through his family. While he loves the land and is proud of being responsible for all of it, he also envies his many cousins and their freedom to live their life without such family pressure. Layla DuBois is a famous singer-songwriter who has lost her song writing mojo. She’s just discovered that she’s inherited a house in the Rosier valley – a house that Matt was under the impression was going to be his.
Matt’s first impression he makes on Layla has much to be desired. He is startled by the news and is not happy to meet her, although he feels a strong pull towards her immediately. His cousins are all greatly amused.
“What do you want now?” Matt growled at her, tightening his arms around himself.
“I only need directions!” Layla snapped back at him. “I can’t believe how unhelpful you people are being!”
Matt blinked. He slid the oddest glance toward the other men, almost—vulnerable? “They couldn’t give you directions?”
Tristan shook his head woefully. “Even Damien,” he said sadly, “proved unequal to the task.”
Matt stared at them for a moment. And then his sunburn seemed to get worse than ever, and he rubbed his chest, as if it felt strange to him.
His gruff voice elaborated as he wrote: “A three-story house with blue shutters will be on your left. It has lace curtains. If not, if it’s a house with blue shutters and roses climbing up the walls but no curtains, you’ve taken the wrong exit. There’s a little bar two buildings farther down, with a faded red awning. Be careful, there’s a pale orange tabby cat that likes to lie right in the middle of the road there, and he will not move. You have to stop the car and pick him up and carry him to the garden of the little house with the jasmine climbing up the green gate. That’s where he belongs. Then you—”
This is just one of many interactions that I love. The cousins interaction cracked me up throughout the book. They were attempting to help Matt multiple times in wooing the girl, with mixed results. Those interactions were very realistic to me – funny but with family love in them.
Laura Florand’s prose is simply beautiful. She weaves a spell with her words that transports me wherever she wants me to go. If you haven’t read any of her books you really, really need to start and this is a great one to begin with!
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an impartial review.