Sylvain Marquis knew what women desired: chocolate. And so he had learned as he grew into adulthood how to master a woman’s desire.
How’s that for an intro? I love it!
Is there really a chocolate thief in this story? Sure.
Christophe stared at [Sylvain]. “Doesn’t that make you happy? A woman thief sneaking into your lair to steal your chocolate? Don’t you want to hide out here overnight to try to catch her en flagrant délit?
Sylvain opened and closed his mouth. Yes. He did. “I think we might be a little premature in deciding there’s a thief. I’m sure there’s a much more innocuous explanation.”
None leaped to mind, but – a thief who stole chocolate but not his laptop? He might have to marry her. He could feel himself falling in love just at the idea.
He hoped she had worn black leather pants.
So that gives you the idea, I expect. Cade Carey is the thief — think of her as the young female heir of the Hershey empire, that’s about right. She’s all into establishing a gourmet line of chocolate, and I’m sure you can imagine Sylvain’s reaction to her wanting to buy his name for marketing purposes (he’s widely regarded as the best chocolatier in Paris). The initial conflict comes about because Cade can’t imagine his reaction, and since she was more than half in love with Sylvain before even meeting him, his scorn is a huge blow.
And we go on from there, and naturally everything works out beautifully at the end.
As you may know, I don’t read many romances. But . . . chocolate? That’s pretty tempting. I heard of this title from Chachic, who I’m pretty sure shares my enthusiasm for chocolate, and of course books, and I’m very pleased I gave it a try, because I wound up really enjoying this story. It’s all luscious chocolate and snappy dialogue and walks along the Seine and like that. Of course there are hurt feelings and misunderstandings, but this didn’t drive me crazy because Florand did a really good job showing how seriously vulnerable both Cade and Sylvain are. It felt exactly right that they’re both cautious about declaring that they’re falling in love. Florand brings them perfectly to life. Listen to this, a line that perfectly shows you Cade’s hidden longing for romance:
The spice jars felt cold and round under her hand. Hot chocolate should have a touch of vanilla, fresh from Tahiti. A stick of cinnamon from Sri Lanka. Nutmeg from . . . Zanzibar? She hoped it was. In her opinion, every life should have something in it that came from Zanzibar.
You know? This is true! Every life really should have something in it that comes from Zanzibar. I wonder where my nutmegs are from? (I got them from Penzey’s spices, and yes, I grate my own whole nutmegs.)
I also loved the secondary characters — they didn’t have to have many lines to be clearly drawn as characters. I loved Christophe, the food blogger who broke the story about the Chocolate Thief. I love Cade’s grandfather, who founded the Carey chocolate empire and now, at 82, is delighted that his granddaughter is showing her gumption by breaking into Sylvain’s workshop and kind of wants to zip over to France so he can join in the fun.
Plus, Florand’s writing is really good. Like this:
Outside, Paris put on darkness the way her women dressed for excitement – a black dress sliding over skin, something glittering in its threads. Paris pulled black net stockings over her elegant lines, added high-heeled black boots to click against pavement. Buildings lit in strings of jewels – an earring here, a bracelet there, and a shimmer of something over the skin, a dusting of glitter.
Cade stood at the window, watching that glittering, promising night through that cursed pane of glass. She watched it until it got tired of itself, until the jewels started to come back off, tossed carelessly on a bedside table – lights in apartments going out, heels stripping off, sore feet tucked under the covers.
That kind of extended metaphor could totally fall apart, but it doesn’t — it works perfectly.
I’m definitely in for the second book — The Chocolate Kiss. It sounds like it’s got magical realism elements, which instantly makes me sure I’ll love it — like Sarah Addison Allen, though a bit more sexy.
But I’d better lay in a more diverse stock of really good chocolate first. Lindt dark chocolate with orange, say, to go with my plain dark Callebaut. I recommend you do the same if you try this book: trust me, you aren’t going to want to nibble Jolly Ranchers while reading The Chocolate Thief!
Btw, I admit I’m kind of a chocolate snob, and I really do think Hershey’s Special Dark is basically inedible, but I’ve never gone so far as to buy chocolates that are $100 a pound. This book made me want to. Which I now could, easily, because Florand included links to sources at the back of her book. Mmmm. I know just how to celebrate the next time I sign a book contract!