Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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It’s getting hard to choose a favorite …

So, Laura Florand has what? About a dozen books out now? Plus various associated novellas. The Chocolate romances and the Rose romances and the Paris Nights romances . . . they do add up.

It used to be so easy for me to identify my favorite of the bunch.

The Chocolate Touch

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Dominique Richard’s reputation says it all—wild past, wilder flavors, black leather and smoldering heat. Jaime Corey is hardly the first woman to be drawn to all that dark, delicious danger. Sitting in Dom’s opulent chocolaterie in Paris day after day, she lets his decadent creations restore her weary body and spirit, understanding that the man himself is entirely beyond her grasp.

Until he touches her. . .
Chocolate, Dominique understands—from the biting tang of lime-caramel to the most complex infusions of jasmine, lemon-thyme, and cayenne. But this shy, freckled American who sits alone in his salon, quietly sampling his exquisite confections as if she can’t get enough of them—enough of him—is something else. She has secrets too, he can tell. Of course if she really knew him, she would run.

Dom’s my favorite male lead . . . I suppose, though it’s getting hard to pick out just one. And Jaime is a good match for him. This has always been my favorite of the Chocolate romances, though I’m pretty keen on the whole series.

Then Laura started writing the connected Rose series:

Once Upon a Rose

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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?

This was such a wonderfully warm and sweet romance, and the hints of Goldilocks around the edges adds a special layer of enjoyment to the story. Just thinking about this story makes me smile.

And now, just released, we have the newest Paris Nights romance:

Chase Me

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A Michelin two-star chef at twenty-eight, Violette Lenoir could handle anything, including a cocky burglar who broke into her restaurant in the middle of the night.

Or so she thought.

Elite counterterrorist operative Chase “Smith” had been through things that made Hell Week look easy. But nothing had prepared him for a leather-clad blonde who held him at bay at knifepoint and dared him to take her on.

Now if only saving the world didn’t require he ruin her life.

This story is such a delight. I have a serious soft spot for the right kind of cocky male lead, and they hardly come more cocky than Chase.

“You know I crush a hundred men just like you on a daily basis?”

Okay, not that he wanted to destroy her self-confidence or anything, but . . . seriously? “I’m pretty sure you don’t, honey. Just because they pretend to be me in video games doesn’t mean they’re actually like me.”

The dialogue is so superb. This is a delightful light story . . . with a darker edge to it, actually, but still. We aren’t supposed to ask when Vi found the time to learn to throw knives, or how she manages to practice enough to stay good, or why she even has throwing knives along with chef’s knives in the first place. We’re just supposed to enjoy the knives. And the motorcycle, and the leather, and the whole idea of a guy like Chase breaking into a kitchen and finding himself facing a woman like Vi. And the immediate sparks.

This is all complicated by the fact that Chase really has come pretty close to ruining Vi’s life, and acknowledges her right to be beyond furious about it even while he’d totally do it again. The tension between duty and personal life is perfect here. And Vi’s major issue is needing to find a way to trust Chase even when he can’t explain the full story — that’s perfect, too.

So which of Laura Florand’s stories is my favorite? I honestly have no idea. At this point, it’s getting pretty much impossible to choose.

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