Friday, 5 December 2014

Review: Shadowed Heart: A Luc & Summer Novel by Laura Florand

Shadowed Heart: A Luc & Summer Novel (Amour et Chocolat #5.5) by Laura Florand
Publication date: December 3rd 2014
My rating: 5 stars 
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Three words, to shake a man’s existence.

Three words, to call on all a man’s strength, all his courage, all his love, and all his ability to hope and dream…and trust.

Three words, to wake up every fear a man has ever had.

“I’m pregnant, Luc.”

Now how could a man be perfect enough for that?

Romantic Times calls Laura Florand's writing "sensuous and sumptuous", awarding her their Seal of Excellence and nominating her for Best Book of the Year, and NPR says it's "explosive, sensual . . . and utterly sweet".

Now in this sequel to The Chocolate Heart, Florand takes us into the heart of happily ever after with a story full of love, hope, and friendship. Struggling to get their new restaurant off the ground in the south of France, newly married top chef Luc Leroi and his wife Summer must face all their demons at the prospect of becoming parents. Fortunately, Summer's cousins and Luc's rival chefs join forces with the couple to prove that not even a top chef has to handle everything alone and happiness really can last ever after.

My Thoughts:
Shadowed Heart was a beautiful continuation of Luc and Summer’s story.  As usual Laura Florand manages to dig deep into my heart and stir up so many emotions!  A definite must for any fan of the Amour et Chocolat series! 

Luc and Summer had the happily ever after in The Chocolate Heart when they marry, but Shadowed Heart covers the early months of their marriage before the glorious epilogue contained in the The Chocolate Heart.

I love how Laura Florand captures the realities and ups and downs of a long term romance. The time after “I do” can be a rollercoaster of emotion. One minute you feel as high as a kite thinking there’s no way you could be happier and the next you’re taking a downward plunge into an abyss of hurt.  So many insecurities are felt in the beginning years, because you’re just getting to really know each other.  For two people riddled with insecurities, like Summer and Luc, these times are even more tumultuous than for ones who come from a settled, loving family home.  Both Luc and Summer had an intense need for reassurance, but both were scared to show their vulnerability.  It was ironic that when Luc and Summer would let that need show it was such a soothing balm to the other, knowing that they craved the other’s love and affection and yet, years of neglect from their families made both hesitant to show this need for fear of rejection.

A pregnancy, even if planned and wanted can cause all those lurking insecurities to rise to the surface and bubble over. So when Summer announced she’s pregnant, they’re both excited but also so very scared. Summer and Luc worry that they’re inadequate and will be no different from their sorry excuses for parents.  I seriously wanted to throttle Summer’s mother! Ugh! They both also worry about not being enough for each other over the long haul.

It’s easy for misunderstandings and misinterpretations of events to cause a deep rift between a couple, but fortunately for Luc and Summer they had a strong love for each other to see things through. Another huge asset was the help and support they received from their friends and relatives: Sylvain and Cade, Dominique and Jaime, Patrick and Sarah, Gabriel and Jolie and even from some of the new hirers at Luc’s restaurant.  Having a loyal support system goes a long way in making a marriage last.  Friends who look out for your best interests, give good truthful advice, even if it hurts sometimes, and those who can help you take a step back and look at the big picture.  Luc and Summer’s support system did all of that and made them laugh in the process.  Humor is a must in long-term relationships as well.  Ms. Florand depicts all of this vividly!

I empathized with Luc and Summer’s feelings even knowing much of the negative ones were from insecurity and faulty assumptions. No worries, even though they both struggle, they would come back to the truth of the matter: they loved each other intensely and with all their heart! They didn’t allow hurt to fester and poison their relationship.

As usual, I have so many passages highlighted in my e-reader for the sheer beauty of writing or because of the deep feelings it would evoke in me.  Every time I pick up one of Ms. Florand’s books I’m in awe of her writing talents. Being able to convey emotions in a way that speaks to a reader so profoundly it’s like she wrote the book especially for you is an amazing talent indeed!

Amour et Chocolate Series:
(Click on title for Goodreads description)

The Chocolate Thief (Amour et Chocolat #1)  The Chocolate Kiss (Amour et Chocolat #2)  The Chocolate Rose (Amour et Chocolat, #3; La Vie en Roses, #1)  The Chocolate Touch  (Amour et Chocolat #4)  

The Chocolate Heart (Amour et Chocolat, #5)  The Chocolate Temptation (Amour et Chocolat, #6)

About the author: 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!

Connect with Laura:


Glass said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed this sequel as well. It seems that this series gets better for you with every new book.
Great review, Rachel!

Emma said...

Yours is the second review of this book I've seen this week and such praise for it it seems as well. I really need to get into this series like I said to Jasprit yesterday. It sort of reminds me a bit of the Marked Men series with Luc. Can't wait to read this series. Great review, Rachel!

Joy said...

I really can't wait to try this series! I've got a whole week planned especially for these books! It sounds so good, and I tend to trust yours and Jas' tastes. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm buying a book by Laura Florand during my Christmas shopping for sure, Rachel. With both you and Jasprit praising the authors books I have to experience this. And a realistic portrayal of romance? I definitely need this!
Lovely review, Rachel!

brandileigh2003 said...

Always nice to hear about the complications and joy that come with long term relationship and marriage

Mary @ BookSwarm said...

She's such an amazing writer! I feel like I'm right there when reading her stories.

Lauren @ Love is not a triangle said...

I need to read more of this series asap! I've only read the first one and I loved it so much. This is making me so sad I haven't invested more time in these characters. But soon!

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