Published on February 7th, 2015 | by BookCrack
Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand (La Vie en Roses)
Once Upon a Rose is sweet, funny, cute, and the very definition of swoony! This book has its angsty stressors, but despite the stress, it doesn’t jerk you around hard in search of its HEA. I LOVED it!
Laura Florand makes you feel both the characters’ woes and misgivings, but her tone and gorgeous storytelling (not to mention the setting-hello-french countryside!) keeps you feeling optimistic, light at heart, and giddy with pleasure as her hero and heroine stumble through misunderstandings, are forced to reveal deep family wounds to one another, and in the end, must have faith in themselves and in their sudden blossoming love to guide them to a mutual HEA.
She stole his roses.
Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out indie/folk 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. (In a good way…)
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?
Or maybe he just wants her.
When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.
It might involve kissing.
And that might be just the start.
Once Upon a Rose is the beginning of a new series for author Laura Florand, but not. Let me tell you about the book first, and then explain with a reading order below. One thing I can tell you quickly, is that Once Upon a Rose (La Vie en Roses) is a stand alone novel, and the first full novel in the series, but involves many secondary characters (“the cousins”) from Florand’s best selling Chocolate Lovers series (Amour et Chocolat) (reviews), a series featuring über-passionate French chefs/chocolatiers in Paris, which I LOVE and has garnered a book on my BEST list 2 years running!
Release date: January 26, 2015
Source: ARC provided in exchange for a fair review (and I purchased a copy too!)
Rating: 5 stars
So, wipe clear any notions you might have about the heroine being a “rock star”. Layla is as down to earth and humble as they come and twice as kind, funny and likable. Basically, as the story unfolds, we get a sense of her being an open, caring, wayward lonely traveler when she finds herself lost and having car trouble on a country road at midnight in the south of France. Exhaused and lost, but invigorated by her newfound freedom and anonymity, she abandons her vehicle and wanders through the fields onto a rose farm owned by the Rosier family, who are all in the midst of a huge milestone birthday celebration. Her celebrity status is a non-issue for most of she and Matt’s swoony story.
This is one of the cutest “cute meets” I’ve read in ages!
Matthieu Rosier, Matt, the rightful owner of the house, land and roses she’s wondered into has just turned thirty and after copious amounts of french wine is letting loose for the first time in…(perhaps ever?) and Layla looks like a dream come true. But he’s embarrassed to not know this name of this gorgeous guest, or worse–worries that she’s with one of his many gorgeous and competitive cousins. This cute meet is loud, adorable, and you get a quick sense of the pressure the hero is under and the tight-knit family that both binds him and keeps him together under the stress of caring for his family’s heritage/fortune.
“J’y suis, j’y reste.” I am here and here I’ll stay.
Unfortunately, Matthieu has had to make sacrifices to keep the crop and land together. While his cousins are home for the harvest and his birthday and they support him, they have been able to travel the world in pursuit of their dreams. Matt has been forced to put down roots, deep roots, care for his spunky, strong-willed elders, and maintain the family land, and protect the entire family’s future. The roses-the land-it’s part of who he is on every level, and when he discovers his most treasured Aunt has given away a home in the midst of the valley–his valley– to a stranger–it’s as if she’s given away a piece of him. It’s the ultimate betrayal for a man so loyal to his family and the valley the small house inhabits.
Needless to say, when Layla shows up completely innocent, looking for the home she’s been “deeded” and had hoped to take refuge in to prepare for a new album they both are conflicted and it doesn’t sit right with anyone, including her when she finds out the circumstances.
Carefree Layla is immediately drawn to seemingly grumpy, growly, bulky, built but shy Matt (he even blushes!) and the adorable, combustable chemistry between Matt and Layla is signature Florand. It’s angsty, sweet, funny and HOT:
“She curled her fingertips tightly into her palms and tucked them behind her, locking them between her butt and the counter to make them behave. It was hard to make them behave. Her gaze drifted to where his drawn-up knee pulled the jeans against his crotch, and her impish, idiot fingers all the sudden thought about what sound he might make if she touched him there, and she smashed her butt harder against her hands, pinching them against the counter. Probably be one hell of a sound, though, her brain thought wistfully. Oh, fine, now her brain was going to turn idiot, too. Yeah, but….admit you want to hear that sound.”
I loved that Layla was the instigator with Matt! The chemistry between the pair is signature Florand, BUT, it’s a bit less fiery and angsty…it’s hard to put into words…maybe despite all his growly bear exterior we get to hear his conflicted thoughts and see how much he cares for everyone in his life, so this time her hero has less bravado and stubbornness, perhaps? Even with all his bumbling, growling and blushing he’s total alpha hero material:
She sighed. “Women must fall for you all the time.” He was worse than a damn drummer. He even had dramatic, brooding wounds in his past.
And he even has a recent french supermodel -Ex girlfriend with a penchant for landing them in trashy gossip magazines.
The chefs in Florand’s Chocolate Lovers series are ALPHA, too, just in a very solitary, competitive brash extreme. Matt cares so deeply for his extended family and his “calling” that you just want to hug him tight and roll around the floor with him all at once! The smexy is HOT, just not quite as front and center as perhaps her last few Chocolate Lovers novels. Still, Matt and Layla are one of the most adorable, sweet couples I’ve read in a long time. Theirs is definitely a feel good love story.
I could go on and one about how swoony and smexy Once Upon a Rose is, but beyond their blossoming relationship there is also a wonderful and captivating story about why Matt’s aunt has given Layla the house and I was fascinated by the simple, yet complex history that ties both of them to her home and the Rosier family land.
As she is so good at, Florand effortlessly weaves a rich romantic love story that also manages to be light and fun and informs the reader about things quintessentially french like the realities of Matt’s trade (perfume), french agriculture, and history (the French resistance) that had me spellbound and choked up at times. And yet, it manages to be delicious, swoony and the very definition of romance!
This is a fantastic 5 STAR start to Laura Florand’s new series and while I LOVE the over-the-top fiery, passionate über alpha french chefs of her Chocolate Lovers series, I am soooooo excited to read about Matt’s Rosier/Delange cousins (cousins to Gabriel from Choc. Lovers.) in this new La Vie en Roses series!
Many thanks to the author for graciously offering me an ARC in exchange for a fair review. I can’t wait for more!
Happy reading xo
La Vie en Roses Series Reading Order:
Once Upon a Rose is the 1st offical novel in this new series and it introduces all of Matt’s Rosier cousins for future novels.
One warning, but I think it’s been fixed- this book could mistakenly be marked as #2 (but as of right now Amazon has it fixed to #1) because there are 2 other books/novellas that can be read before or after this one, which tie Florand’s previous series, Amour et Chocolat (Chocolate Lovers) to this new one.
One of her heroes in Chocolate Lovers (book #3), Gabe, Gabriel Delange, is a cousin of the Rosiers and he has ties to the region where this book takes place, so the Rosier cousins are first mentioned there. But to be clear, this is the first book in the new La Vie en Roses series. 🙂
The Chocolate Rose (ON SALE $3.99) is a prequel novel to this new series. I LOVED it, and it features a chef hero and cookbook authoring heroine, Gabriel Delange mentioned above and Jolie, who make a very brief appearance in ONCE UPON A ROSE).
Turning Up the Heat (a novella prequel) $2.99 (Daniel and Lea) Turning Up the Heat provides a first glimpse of the world and families of Florand’s La Vie en Roses series, set in Provence. For the first full-length book in that series,
Summary: If you love romance, Alpha heroes with a growly exterior and shy side then we have a swoony, smexy treat for you! Laura Florand's new La Vie en Rose series is off to a 5 STAR start with ONCE UPON A ROSE and we can't wait to see what's next for this series!