Why did I want to read this book?
I completely fell in love with Book 1, Once Upon A Rose, and I was so excited to read about the Rosier cousins once again. Now, it’s Damien’s turn, the family ‘henchman’, so to speak, and I couldn’t wait to get to know him. Plus, I needed to have my Laura Florand fix.
What worked for me?
I always have a hard time writing a review for a Laura Florand book, not because I didn’t love it, that could not have been farther from the truth, but because it takes me some time to really get my head about the beauty of storytelling that I got to read every time. I wished so much that I would get the words right and get across to fellow readers just how much I love her books. And always, always, after finishing her book, I would have all these kinds of emotions that I hope I would be able to translate well into my reviews so that other people would also appreciate and read her beautiful works.
I love this book so much, I just have to get that one out now. It’s not just one element but this amalgamation of wonderful and thought-out elements that made this book truly magical. As with other of her books, Laura has this amazing writing style of giving her stories overarching themes and mini-themes, which she so skillfully weaves throughout the book: through her plot, her characterizations, to her dialogue. So you get this seamless connection that just sweeps you away as you read and they get revealed to you one at a time.
This is a second-chance romance, which is a trope I am completely enamored with. The night they spent together as simply Damien and Jess, without the weight of their surnames, was magical but that same weight came crashing down on them in the aftermath.
Laura writes another fantastic hero in Damien. He’s projected image is that of the cold, ruthless, and unforgiving wall for the Rosier clan. He’s the one with the hard heart, if he has one at all, who handles the business side of their company. But he does indeed have a heart. And what a beautiful and breakable heart he has. Of course, he keeps it buried so deeply in a dark hole, especially after what happened with Jess, that sometimes not even himself can get to it. As he’s handling the business side of things, he’s the one that makes the money and grows that money even more. He’s not like Matt with his roses or Tristan with his perfumes, or Raoul and Lucien with their explorations. He’s the one fighting the business battles. You’ll just love how he loves his family and I love how Jess eventually realizes that that he’s a warrior for his family. He’s not just a defender but a protector as well. One of my favorite lines in the book is this:
Be careful what you wish for, Damien will get it for you.
I love how Damien is the wall the protects his family, the fortress that makes it possible for his family to dream and make their own wishes come true. It’s so ingrained in his character. But I also love how this line had so many nuances in the book. You have to read it to get the whole picture. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
But at the same time, Damien is as nuanced a character, a hero, as you could possibly want. There’s just so much to love about him: his fierce loyalty, his mostly unseen vulnerability, his hurt and internal conflicts.
Jess, on the other hand, is one flawed heroine. Granted, they’re both really flawed characters but I love them to bits just the same. She tried to reach for that HEA with a prince who turned out to be the enemy who took away one of the most heartfelt sources of happiness, the start-up company where she could apply her knowledge and talent as a true perfumer. And her father’s declining health didn’t help her already burdened heart and mind. Her one rebellious act of creating the Spoiled Brat fragrance resulted in her scent being a huge success in the industry but at the same time her having been caged, in a way, in that niche and not in the one she’s really passionate about, which is personalized scents. And so her newly inherited fragrance shop in Grasse was a way for her to forge a new future for her if she dared and that led her straight into Damien’s kingdom. She’s been so used to being alone and living her life on her own, it was a little heartbreaking to watch her interact with the Rosier family, even with Damien alone.
I love the themes in the book about hearts, stars, wishes, and dreams. I love the references to making wishes. There are things we wish for, things that we want to come true. But dreaming can only take us so far. And sometimes even that act, the dreaming alone can paralyze us with fear that we never really take action in the first place. And that doesn’t make our dreams come true at all. I love how Laura pushes this and makes us think about it. There was a phrase in the book that says “to afraid to believe” and it resonated strongly with me. Because fear can totally freeze you, right? And this doesn’t only happen for the things that we want but also with the people that we love. Just as much as we want to be somebody’s wish come true, we also want to be a person somebody believes in.
These two people had a lot of hurdle to overcome. There is so much unfinished business, unspoken words, and misunderstandings between them, you can feel even in those first few moments when they meet again. Laura has created this complex but satisfying unraveling of these two people, what happened between them those many months ago, their true emotions. And you just can’t help but keep on turning page after page. The progression of their relationship was simply magical, as Laura always does in her books. There’s always this mix of familiarity, tentativeness, new discoveries, sexual tension, and just heartfelt emotions in each of their scenes, I couldn’t help but hold my breath every time. It’s just sigh, after sigh, after sigh, while I was reading the story. And it was even made more amazing because Jess was in the process of creating a scent for Damien, which, by the way, is one of the sexiest elements in the story.
And last but not the least, the Rosier clan was a hoot, especially the Rosier cousins. I love all their interactions. Tante Collette was adorable in this one, yet again. And I think it will be Tristan’s turn in the next book.
What did not work for me?
I was left with a teeny, tiny question by the time I reached ‘The End’. And this is SPOILER-y! So be forewarned. I was wondering whether Jess ever realized that she was one Damien was talking about when he spoke of falling in love with a girl for the first time. I didn’t get the impression that that was cleared up so I was waiting for it to get mentioned until the end, that’s why the ending felt just a smudge incomplete for me. But other than that, gosh this book was amazing.
My over-all take on it?
Laura Florand is ruining me for other authors. Seriously! I’m getting more and more spoiled with each new release from her. It’s always automatic now to expect that the other books I will read will be with the kind of writing Laura gives her readers.
Anyways, you know I love this book. If I didn’t make that obvious enough earlier then I have failed in my duty. lol! There’s an epic kind of quality to Jess’ and Damien’s love story and I was glad I was part of it even if I was just a reader. You would definitely want to meet these obviously flawed, completely endearing, heartbreakingly precious characters.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Yes, these are my honest and personal thoughts on this book.
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 Florand:
Other prequel books in the La Vie en Rose series:
More Laura Florand on the blog:
Once Upon A Rose (La Vie en Roses #1)
What do you think of second-chance romances? Have you read Laura Florand’s books? Are you following this new series of hers?