Chocolate in Paris

The Chocolate Thief - Laura Florand

This book blends Paris, chocolate, and a love story in one delicious package, as sensual and bitter-sweet as only French chocolate can be. The heroine Cade Corey is the heir to an American chocolate empire, something like Mars. The Coreys’ most popular chocolate bars, factory-produced, cost 33 cents at Walmart. You can imagine their quality, but the tradition has persisted for three generations.
The hero Sylvain is the best artisan chocolatier in Paris. His hand-made, gourmet chocolate serves only the richest on the planet – for $150 a pound.
She wants to buy his name for her company’s premier chocolate line. He is horrified at the suggestion and revolted by the banal taste of Corey bars, but he wants her. How could he seduce her? Of course with his chocolate. How could she seduce him? She tries millions, but they don’t seem to work. Perhaps she could steal his secrets?
When such a comedy of taste buds unfolds on the background of Paris, with its cobbled streets, superb food, and arrogant chocolatiers, the result is predictably adorable.
The romantic and sexual dance Cade and Sylvain perform with each other is accompanied by a symphony of chocolate. The tastes, the smells, the shapes, the wrappings, they all add their notes to the composition. Every time she tries one of his chocolates, I envied her. I wanted it too. I drooled as I read. I think there was a little too much of it in the text, and the overflow damaged the story somewhat, slowed it down. There really can be too much chocolate, in life and in fiction.
Despite this one small hitch, the action is fast and funny. I suppose for a chocolate maker, stealing chocolate secrets might be important, but for the rest of us, it feels like a delightful plot device, a yummy joke worth reading about in a book of love and chocolate.
The sexual tension is unbearably high, and the carnal scenes almost smoking in their intensity. And here lies my first objection to the novel – the instant sexual attraction, as if the heroes are not humans with brains but mindless animals ruled by instincts. I don’t believe it and don’t like it in any romance novel. Especially in this one, where the protagonists are both successful business people, with multiple employees depending on them. They shouldn’t be driven by lust. It’s not true. The novel would’ve read much better if the author took the time and showed a more gradual upslope in their relationship.
Another of my objection concerns the hero and the heroine. Why are they so unsure of themselves, so vulnerable? With their money and their professional achievements, it doesn’t ring true either.
This claim is especially apt for Cade. She is a multimillionaire, but the author draws her as a young woman who constantly doubts herself in both personal and social sphere. Again, I don’t believe it. More, I find it offensive. Cade’s problems are clearly invented for the sake of the plot. Comparing with real problems of real people, they’re a spit in the face, and they forced me to drop the rating one full star.
If I was not a homocentric reviewer, I would take the lead roles in this book away from its human protagonists and assign them to two other entities, much more suitable: Paris and chocolate. These two are the real celebrities of the show and they play their assigned parts to perfection.