The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
4 out of 5 stars
Breathtakingly beautiful, the City of Light seduces the senses, its cobbled streets thrumming with possibility. For American Cade Corey, it’s a dream come true, if only she can get one infuriating French chocolatier to sign on the dotted line…
Melting, yielding yet firm, exotic, its secrets are intimately known to Sylvain Marquis. But turn them over to a brash American waving a fistful of dollars? Jamais. Not unless there’s something much more delectable on the table…
Whether confections taken from a locked shop or kisses in the dark, is there anything sweeter? (Blurb from Goodreads)
Delicious! Surprising emotional depth and sexiness from this chocolate-centered romance. And rest assured this doesn’t have an “omg I love chocolate, I keep a bar in my desk at work sometimes!” kind of heroine. Cade Corey is the heiress of and executive at her family’s global chocolate company, kind of a Hershey’s style enterprise. So she has legitimate reasons to be traveling to Paris to meet with the city’s best chocolatier owner, Sylvain Marquis.
In all honesty, I actually don’t quite get the big deal about French guys. So I didn’t have high expectations for Sylvain Marquis, but wow, what another pleasant surprise! It would have been easy for Florand to just make her hero exactly what you would expect: worldly, snobby Frenchman who can’t help but be attracted to the brusque American heroine even though he is so much more sophisticated and rich. While Sylvain definitely has high standards for chocolate and immediately turns down Cade’s offer to put his name on a line of chocolate, he’s actually rather insecure and spent most of his younger, awkward days being rejected by women who he only managed to attract in the first place through chocolate. His insecurity and immediate crush on Cade made him completely endearing.
Another plus (it’s small but it almost never happens in romance novels) is that Cade is actually richer than Sylvain and yields a lot more power overall at her job. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a romance novel. And rather than going down the simple hate-to-love route that could have been easy in one where the protagonists are set apart by business, their relationship goes a kind of lovers-to-love sort of route. The main speed bumps come from Cade’s family/work obligations and from Sylvain’s insecurities.
Overall, basically anytime Florand could have gone for the cliche, she didn’t, and that’s what makes this romance so rewarding. The use of chocolate also as something that Cade and Sylvain both love and are vulnerable about worked really well. Genuinely after reading this, I want to go blow $20 on some ridiculously elegant and expensive kind of chocolate.
The only major negative to me was the too neatly wrapped up and cheesy epilogue. You know where each character’s family just happens to stumble in and you see the beginnings of the next novel being set up. Would have been much better if it had just ended the scene before that.