Publication date: November 26th 2013
My rating: 3 stars
No one hates Paris--except Summer Corey. The moody winters. The artists and their ennui. The inescapable shadow of the Tour Eiffel. But things go from bad to worse when Summer stumbles into brooding, gorgeous chef pâtissier Luc Leroi and indecently propositions the hero of French cuisine...
Luc has scrambled up from a childhood panhandling in the Paris Métro to become the king of his city, and he has no patience for this spoiled princess, even if she does now own his restaurant. Who cares if she smiles with all the warmth of July? She doesn't eat dessert!
There is only one way to tempt her. A perfect, impossibly sweet seduction...
I’m addicted to Laura Florand’s Chocolate series. Her beautiful prose and descriptions of fine chocolate, food (mostly desserts!) and of Paris, a city so enchanting which comes through beautifully in her stories. But most of all it’s her crafting of romances that has completely won me over. With that said The Chocolate Heart was a bit difficult for me.
Summer Corey is back in her personal hell: Paris. Paris is where her parents dumped her off in boarding school when she became too old to cart around the globe for whatever business deal or entertainment that consumed them. Summer spent the last four years living simply and teaching children on a small island away from most civilization. She’s back in Paris coerced by her father’s promise to provide satellite communications to the island if she agreed to manage the hotel he bought her for three months. Putting aside her past, Summer agrees for the good of the island people she has come to love.
Luc Leroi has worked his way up from a life of performing and basically begging for money with his father in the metros of Paris as a young boy. At the age of ten social services puts Luc into foster care, and under the strict tutelage of his foster father and chef, Bernard. From Bernard he learned strict control was the key to success in life and profession. Luc has since become one of the most sought after chefs in Paris and has brought the hotel where he currently works its crowning glory: three Michelin stars. The hotel that Summer is now currently owner. Upon first meeting Summer, he’s immediately attracted to her, but she inadvertently insults him making for a very rocky start between these two.
Both Summer and Luc were starved for love growing up. Luc had it in cycles of love and then abuse from his real father. After he was put into foster care, Luc was provided for physically and no longer subjected to abuse, but his upbringing didn’t include affection. Summer was starved of love, affection, and attention by her parents. They would cart her along to all their luxury hotels, but always with a nanny, freeing them up to do whatever they wished without the annoyance of a child.
My heart went out to both Luc and Summer and you can see why they have so many shields up, but this didn’t make for a happy read for a good portion of the story. There were misunderstandings and miscommunications putting Summer and Luc at each other’s throats for about 60% of the book. I was getting extremely frustrated with the back and forth which was largely Summer’s fault, in my opinion. I seriously wanted to pull my hair out! I knew the reasons behind Summer’s behavior but Luc didn’t, and she really did come off as a spoiled brat if you didn’t know her motivations. To me Luc kept trying and trying with her. Yes, at first more for his pride and to teach her a lesson, but still he would send the olive branch and she would reject it. Time after time!
I was at my limit when FINALLY the ice begins to thaw. Their sparks turn into a romance where they begin to understand the needs and wants of the other, finding the love and affection they both have so desperately craved. This is the point where the story completely turned around going from frustrating to utterly blissful! I love that both Luc and Summer found it so easy and immensely fulfilling to make the other happy. My heart filled to bursting reading the epilogue which was sheer perfection!
I was also thrilled to catch up with Sylvain and Cade and Dominique and Jaime, my favorite couples of the series so far who pop in and out of the story.
While the latter portion of The Chocolate Heart was a solid touchdown for me I can’t forget the torture of the first 60% of the book which greatly affects my overall rating. The first 60% is no more than 2 stars while the final 35-40% felt like a 5 star read for me bringing my overall rating to around 3 stars. In spite of my issues with this installment I plan on going back and reading The Chocolate Kiss (book 2) and The Chocolate Rose (book 3). Laura Florand’s beautiful prose and mesmerizing romances hold an attraction that I can’t resist.