A Crown of Bitter Oranges is a quiet romance with a comfortably romantic hero. Tristan and Malorie have known each other most of their lives. For most of their lives Tristan has been in love with Malorie, but she has never trusted the ease with which he moves through the world. They have an antagonistic friendship that rather sweetly moves to love. Tristan is open and emotional. Malorie is self-contained and distrustful. She needs to open up and he needs recognize his privilege and empathize with her position. He charms and she resists, which was entertaining.
Malorie gaped at him. “You’re blaming me for not trusting you while you tricked me into doing something I didn’t want to do? And the only problem you see in the trick is that you weren’t more subtle about it?”
This book is part of Florand’s la Vie en Roses series. There are some over arching conflicts in the series that continue to play out in Bitter Oranges. A lot of the conflict is rooted in what happened when Grasse was occupied by the Nazis. Mallorie is still feeling the weight of that time, while Tristan is secure as a grandson of a Resistance hero and wants to move forward. In the end, they each must change and grow in order to stay together.
Because this is a Florand, there is one big conflict after Tristan and Malorie get together. I deeply appreciated that Malorie got angry for the right reasons rather than allowing herself to run with her knee jerk response that it was a huge, malevolent betrayal. It was frustrating to watch Tristan ignore every other characters advice and walk right into the trap he had made for himself.