Review: Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand00:00
Author: Laura Florand
Genre/Themes: Contemproary romance
Release Date: 26 January 2015
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My rating: 5 Stars
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She stole his roses.
Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out rock star Layla—“Belle”—Dubois seeks refuge in the south of France. That old, half-forgotten heritage in a valley of roses seems like a good place to soothe a wounded heart. She certainly doesn’t expect the most dangerous threat to her heart to pounce on her as soon as she sets foot on the land.
He wants them back.
Matt didn’t mean to growl at her quite that loudly. But—his roses! She can’t have his roses. Even if she does have all those curls and green eyes and, and, and…what was he growling about again?
Or maybe he just wants her.
When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.
It might involve kissing.
This was a truly beautifully written love story that was a pure pleasure to read. I couldn't put it down and finished in 2 days despite my desire to savour every word, every emotion it brought to life. I almost never reread stories but I'd love to go back to this one at some point. There are so many layers to this story that I'm sure I've missed some the first time round and I’d only be to happy to find them.
I'm a big fan of Laura Florand and her Amour et Chocolat series is one my favourite romances. Once Upon a Rose is the first book in a spin-off series focusing on a dynasty of producers of rose oil in the South of France. It is the most perfect, romantic and tender love story I’ve read lately. Everything in it worked perfectly for me.
Ms Florand has this distinctive rich style of writing, very sensual, very detail oriented. I particularly like how she weaves elements of traditional fairy tales in her romances and they don't feel like an addition but rather are an intrinsic part of the story. She skilfully plays with stereotypes and expectations, with traditional roles.
Layla was a interesting character - she is of mixed origin (French/Lebanese), a free-roaming musician in search of her inspiration back and (more importantly, though she comes to this realisation only gradually in the course of the story) a place to belong to. Matt was her total opposite in many way - he was part of the land, his valley defined him but it was aslo smothering him, just as her non-stop travelling was killing her artistic self.
Matt and Layla's romance swept them off their feet in a matter of days and was at true love at first sight. It's was magical, a story of a princess and her knight, though with a sense of humour and enough dose of reality to keep it grounded and prevent it from being too sweet. Their story was a beautiful journey of self-discovery and of learning who you are and who you can be. The struggle between their heart's desires and their words/actions was very intense, sometimes sad, oftenimes funny and most certainly honest and intimate.
I liked Layla but Matt stole my heart. He was like a big teddy bear (the bear analogy runs strongly throughout the story and I loved it). He hides a tender heart behind his growls and he, can you believe it, he blushes, this big, dark, who scolds and growls all the time, actulally blushes. How cute is that! Layla didn't stand a chance against that just as he didn't have a chance against a petite girl with big eyes and masses of curls who wore her heart on her sleeve for everyone to see.
Ms Florand also gives us a great set of supporting characters set of characters who helped give the story a strong sense of place. There was a lot of focus on the importance of family in all its forms and complexities. I loved the Rosiers cousins, Tante Collette and grandpere Pepe were amazing as well. Can't wait for the next story in the series.
Another element which mades this book stand out is the many layers the author add the love story - subtle presence of history of the French Resistance, the issue of what makes a family, the freedom the be yourself and the need to have someone stand by your side and to be able to share your world with them, the burden of obligations and expectation.
A fantastic read that I can't praise enough. Even this early in the year, I can honestly say that this will be one the Top Reads of 2015 for me! Now I'm going to read rest of the series - Raoul's story (part of the No Place Like Home Anthology) and the prequel novella, Turning Up the Heat (Daniel and Leah) and The Chocolate Rose (Gabriel and Jolie) which is actually book 3 in the Amour et Chocolat series.
Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / iTunes / Kobo
My reviews of other titles by Laura Florand:
The Chocolate Touch (Amour et Chocolat #4) - 3.5 Stars
The Chocolate Heart (Amour et Chocolat #5) - 4.5 Stars
Shadowed Heart (Amour et Chocolat #5.5) - 3.5 Stars
Snow-Kissed (Snow Queen #1) - 5 Stars
Sun-Kissed (Snow Queen #2) - 3.5 Stars