This book was a huge disappointment. I have read two other Florand’s (The Chocolate Kiss – 5 stars, and The Chocolate Touch – 4.5 stars) and really loved both. This book did not hold a candle to either of them. The writing was very uneven and some of the ideas either repeated too often or not fully fleshed out. It reminded me of when I would write term papers in school and write the same thoughts several different ways, and then go back and pick the best. Only, in this case, Florand didn’t bother to delete the ones that didn’t work.
Gabriel Delange is a 3 star Michelin chef in the south of France. His former mentor and boss, who nearly ruined his career, has recently put out a cookbook with his daughter, Jolie, and many of the recipes in it, and the one featured on the cover, are all Gabriel’s work. The book starts with Gabriel suing them and Jolie traveling to see him and try and convince him to drop the case. In like two seconds Gabriel agrees, but only if Jolie will agree to write a cookbook with him. Why? Because she is an amazing food writer? No. Because he wants her to be contractually bound to hang out with him for the next year. For someone nursing a grudge the way Gabriel supposedly was, he sure turned around fast just because he was attracted to Jolie.
I love Florand’s books set in Paris, and I liked the change of scenery here to the south. She is very good at making you feel like you are wandering these tiny cobblestone streets. And, don’t read her books while hungry, because the food descriptions are excellent.
My big problems with this book all revolve around the hero. He is pathetic. He goes around moping all the time that he doesn’t have a girlfriend and can’t keep a woman around despite all he has to offer. And, when he sees other men in happy relationships he just gets more pouty and all “why him, why not meeeee????”. And, he is always going around telling Jolie how into him she is. I think it’s supposed to read as confident and sexy, but I found it very condescending and controlling. If he wasn’t so busy running a restaurant he would probably be a stalker. It raised all my Nice Guy red flags. Like he somehow deserves a woman because…unknown reasons. Just yuck. Where it completely lost me was when he started daydreaming about how he was turned on by the idea of Jolie being financially dependent on him. Ugh!
The reason I kept reading this one was to find out how Jolie would deal with her relationship with her father. Her father has recently had a stroke and they have a very unhealthy co-dependent relationship. I really wanted her to figure that out and needed to see how it played out. The romantic relationship was not of interest to me. I will read more Florand in the future because the others were SO good, but I will go in with more trepidation.