Okay, for me, this one was significantly slower to get into than the previous Chocolate romances. I think this was a) because I really, really loved The Chocolate Touch, right from the first moment in fact, and anything would have been harder to get into after that. But also it was probably because b) I just did not really like Summer very much at first, and c) there was essentially zero chance that I would love Luc as much as I loved Dom.
So this book had quite an uphill battle to grab me.
Somewhere in there, though, I was hooked.
It might have been when Luc and Summer and Dom and Jamie and Sylvain and Cade all get together for dinner. That’s one place where Florand really showed that there truly is more to Summer than beauty and vulnerability. It’s also, I think, where I was finally convinced that the luminously beautiful and super-rich Summer does have problems that are genuinely hard to overcome. That was kind of a hard sell. Despite her dreadful father.
Plus, for me, it was hard to like Luc until he started to really grasp that maybe Summer could be hurt and that maybe he should stop hurting her. That also really turned around for Luc during that same dinner scene. From there, we get more and more details about Summer’s past and I started finding her really sympathetic; and Luc also gets a far better sense of her, which makes him a lot more sympathetic as well.
AND at about the same time that I started to truly engage with Summer and Luc, I was just delighted to realize that The Chocolate Heart actually contains echoes of the story of Persephone. I was amazingly slow to realize that. Like this:
With a look of grave disapproval [because Summer wouldn’t taste a very special dessert], the waiter left, dragging his feet as if he was going off to face the Lord of Hell with the news that he had failed to bring back any more souls.
I mean, the Lord of Hell, Summer Corey, a refusal to taste the food of the underworld, what does it take?
I did have it long before the pomegranate seeds appeared, at least. I just LOVED it once I finally twigged. There are so many perfect little details once you do get it. That’s why I’m not hesitating to give this away here, because I bet you will just love seeing the hints and echoes right from the beginning, even if you that means you don’t have the chance to figure it out for yourself.
In case you’re interested, though, Florand says she has worked echoes of fairy tales into five stories: The Chocolate Heart, The Chocolate Rose, “Snow-Kissed,” “Rose in Winter,” and “All’s Fair.” I haven’t read the latter two stories, but I missed it in “Snow-Kissed.” It’s not my fault, though; “Snow-Kissed is a really intense novella and I wasn’t thinking about fairy tales at all when I read it. But now I’m going to have to read that one again and see if I can figure it out. If you already know, don’t tell me. If I give up, I know who to ask.
So, fairy tale echoes; one more reason to try a story by Laura Florand, if you haven’t already.
3 thoughts on “Recent Reading: The Chocolate Heart by (of course) Laura Florand”
I agree about being a bit slower to get into this one. It also skates a little closer to stereotypical romance melodrama with Summer’s backstory, but I think Florand manages to pull it off okay.
And honestly, Sylvain being both sympathetic & slightly evil to his rivals is my favorite part of all the later books.
“Plus, for me, it was hard to like Luc until he started to really grasp that maybe Summer could be hurt and that maybe he should stop hurting her.”
Ah, yes, that’s what I was reacting to. Couldn’t quite manage to put it into words, so thanks!
Maureen, you know what I want? A novella that is NOTHING BUT a dinner party showcasing the interactions between Sylvain, Dom, Luc, Cade, Jamie, and Summer. Other various relatives desirable but not required. Oh! And it would be GREAT if Sam Corey is there because watching Luc be unimpressed and snide to him would be fun. I wouldn’t need an actual plot arc to love this.
Yes, I so enjoy how Sylvain is sympathetic without giving an inch.
YES. That would be AMAZING.