Author Archives: Laura Florand


Permalink to Book Club Brainstorming for Chocolate Touch?

Book Club Brainstorming for Chocolate Touch?

Ooh, want to do a book club brainstorming? We haven’t done one in a while. The Amazing Book Club Queen Shannon is doing THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH with her Mom Mafia group next month, and another club also emailed about the same book that they’re doing I think on (near?) Mother’s Day. Any ideas? For themes, discussion questions, etc? This is Dom and Jaime’s book.

Obviously, I think chocolate should be a theme. But I am so one-track minded.

(By the way, if you’re interested in book clubs, you can see some photos from some amazing book clubs here, as well as ideas for several books in the series that readers and book clubs have brainstormed and shared in the past. I need to update the photos with some recent ones, and we do have questions for SNOW-KISSED, too, that were developed for/with a book club and I just need to get up. So let me know if you need those in the meantime.)

chocolate touch florand


Permalink to Snippet, Untitled (Chocolate Heart, Summer and Luc sequel)

Snippet, Untitled (Chocolate Heart, Summer and Luc sequel)

During the DABWAHA, I asked what people would like to see if we survived the last round against Katie McGarry, and most people voted for a glimpse of a Summer & Luc story. Well, we didn’t survive, but the outpouring of support was so enormous. I couldn’t believe how close it was!

So of course I am going to share it with you anyway!

Here is the story behind this story:

Once upon a time I started to write a bonus scene to tie up a loose end leftover from all the cuts and editing on THE CHOCOLATE HEART. (Summer’s bracelet.) But…here is the problem. This “bonus scene” is now nearly 50,000 words long, which is the length of a short novel. I’m not really sure how this happened, except that when I imagined Luc and Summer dealing with pregnancy, it was so obvious that they would both, in their ways, go off the deep end. That they would be challenged in all their insecurities, and that they would–gasp–need a social circle. Exactly the thing they didn’t have anymore, having uprooted for each other. And so it just grew and grew. Sylvain, Dom, Patrick, Cade, Jaime, Sarah…they all got involved, and I’m not entirely sure but I have the impression Gabriel might get involved, too. So I’m not entirely sure what to do with this. I’ve never written a sequel about the same couple before.

So what you have here is an excerpt from an as yet untitled novel that is a sequel to THE CHOCOLATE HEART. I have not actually decided whether I will publish it or not, and it’s not yet done, so I would be curious as to whether you would like it.

You may or may not want to read it if you haven’t read THE CHOCOLATE HEART. I don’t think it really spoils anything (I mean, you do know that in all my books, the couple does get together at the end, and I think that’s primarily what is revealed here). But your call!

Please note: this is a rough draft. It has not been edited. It’s a work-in-progress snippet, which I don’t usually show, but I promised! Summer is pregnant (morning sickness, cravings, etc.), and the pregnancy is all still pretty fresh news to them both.

 

Excerpt (untitled possible sequel to The Chocolate Heart):

Every time Luc glanced at Summer, she was sucking so eagerly on the mango ice pop Luc had made her that a man had to be grateful the length of his chef’s jacket hid his reaction to that eager mouth.

And yet somehow, the drips on the marble counter below it grew and grew, until he turned back from some issue to catch her swiping one of his sous-chef’s towels to clean it up, the tip of the ice popping right back into her mouth when he looked at her, as she made an eager yum sound.

Damn it, he was never trusting her when they had sex again. He was going to keep his fingers right where he would know she wasn’t faking anything.

He drew a breath and let it slowly out. “What flavor did you want?” he asked, not between his teeth at all. “For your popsicle?”

“Lime,” she said wistfully. And quickly, “But this is wonderful. You know I love mangoes. It’s so sweet of you to make my favorite.”

And she didn’t, last time he had checked, particularly like lime. “I’ll make you some lime.”

“You know what would be delicious?” she said longingly.

No, but his whole body pricked awake, ready to give it. Aroused to give it.

“Pickles.”

His whole body felt as if it had just taken one to the groin. “Pickles?”

She nodded eagerly.

His shoulders slumped. He shifted into his chef de cuisine’s side of the kitchens and sent the first commis he encountered running for some of Nicolas’s pickles. Not jealous in the least that his chef de cuisine got to feed her and not him.

No. Because jealousy like that would be crazy.

Nico, who was all about living from the land and using all nature’s resources, had pickled watermelon rinds, pickled pears, pickled peppers, pickled beets, pickled figs, and pickled corn. Probably gleaned from local fields post harvest. The man liked to stroll along the edges and even through farmers’ land, picking up all the leftovers that would otherwise rot. Luc would probably get arrested if he ever tried that kind of thing – not to mention that his whole childhood flinched inside him in desperate panic when he even though about it – but somehow people let Nicolas do anything.

Summer picked at every single type of pickle, biting her lip in a clear battle with revulsion. Kind of nice to know he wasn’t the only man failing her right now.

Except – shit. He had to manage to feed her. He had to.

Summer tried a watermelon rind and sagged a little, pushing it away. “Just regular pickles,” she said. “Like – “ she glanced around to make sure Nicolas wasn’t in earshot and lowered her voice so even Luc could barely pick it up. “From the store.”

It was a good thing he could count on Summer’s manners in all situations. If she’d said that loudly enough for Nicolas to hear it, he might be hiring a new chef right now.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t hire a new self, no matter how hard he tried; he could only deal with the self he had. The insane self, that kept trying to get out of its padded cell.

He slipped one of his apprentices some money. “Carmel. Run down to the épicerie and get me a jar of pickles, all right? Don’t let Nico see.”

But when he slipped Summer a tiny bowl of the miniature cornichons Carmel brought back, she took one bite and grimaced, visibly trying to control a gag. “American pickles,” she said, shoving the cornichons as far away from her as she could. “You know, with dill?”

Luc went and found Nicolas, breaking it as gently as he could that Summer had refused every single one of his special pickles and only wanted this dill stuff. Nico took it oddly well. He even seemed amused. Sometimes the guy was disconcertingly rough-and-ready, take-it-as-they-come, compared to Paris chefs. “Sure, I can make them. But, Luc,” the burly, brown-haired farmer of a chef said with that kind of callused-hand gentleness of his, like he was taking care of a newborn lamb, “they take several weeks.”

Luc stared at him. He knew that. He’d never actually made a pickle, but he’d been working in kitchens all his life. He did know that. He just –  went out onto the tiny terrace of the restaurant. Pacing between pots of lavender, he called Sylvain Marquis, a top chocolatier in Paris who had been sufficiently confused about his priorities in life to marry the heir to and vice president of the world’s largest producer of mass market crap, otherwise known as Corey Chocolate. Cade Corey Marquis, Summer’s second cousin. “I need to talk to Cade.”

“Sorry,” the chocolatier said cheerfully. “She’s only allowed to talk to handsome chefs by prior appointment between 3:14 and 3:15 in the afternoon. What is it? Is it about one of the apprentices? How are they working out for you anyway?”

“Fine,” Luc said blankly.

“Are Cade and Jaime sending you the easy ones?” Sylvain asked suspiciously. “Because a couple of the kids I’ve gotten…” He let his voice trail off in a way that spoke volumes.

“They don’t act that differently than some of my foster brothers.” Luc shrugged. Or sometimes, that differently than he himself had once acted. Sylvain came from a happy family, that was his problem. Luc, on the other hand, just trained whatever kids he got and dealt with whatever he had to deal with. And Summer mothered them and patiently taught them letters when they were illiterate, and as far as he could tell, the kids were as happy as bees in honey. They still needed to relax and accept no one was threatening the honey, but from Luc’s personal experience, that might take years.

Decades.

A lifetime, at the rate he himself was going.

A vision of Summer’s face, the patience and warmth as she sat there with those kids.

He grabbed the image and fed it to the insane him he was keeping locked in a padded cell. She’s maternal, you fucked-up idiot. She loves kids. She would never, ever run out on her baby.

What do you know? Insane Him asked. Maybe your mother was maternal, too. Before she had you. And then you were so damned difficult, you ruined that for her.

He slammed the cell door back on the bastard.

“Listen, is Cade there? I have an American question.” Maybe he should have called Jaime. She and Dom had been together for over a year now, and Dom was starting to act mildly sane about her. It gave a man hope for his own case.

Sylvain laughed. “All right, but you only get one minute. I’m timing you!”

“Ignore him,” Cade said as she came on the phone. “It’s the only thing to do. What do you need?”

“Pickles,” Luc said.

A tiny silence on the other end of the connection. Possibly a choked sound. “Pickles?”

“Whatever kind of American pickles that you and Jaime and Summer would have been eating as kids, I assume. Can’t you eat normal pickles like the rest of us?”

More amusement on the other end. “Well, one person’s idea of normal, Luc, is another person’s crazy.”

When they were talking about food, he was pretty sure the French got to decide what was good and what was crazy – for God’s sake, her country had invented peanut butter! And then put it with chocolate! But he needed a favor, so he resisted rubbing it in. She got touchy about those ghastly Corey products sometimes. “Whatever you consider normal pickles. I think that’s what I need.” And, realizing that required some explanation: “Summer’s pregnant.”

At the startled gasp and then the squeal of excitement, he suddenly realized he should have let Summer break that news. “No way!” Cade was exclaiming. “Is she really? That was fast! You guys just got married! Oh, man, wait til I tell Jamie! When’s it due? Is it a boy or a girl? Do you need a – ”

Luc held the phone away from his ear and stared at it. Cade knew how to squeal? Cade Corey? Damn, he really should have let Summer be the one to receive that first burst of delighted enthusiasm from her cousin. Shit, he just hadn’t realized. The news had hit him with terror. “I need pickles,” he said firmly. “American pickles. With dill.”

“There’s an American store here in Paris,” Cade said. “Can I overnight them or do you want a courrier to bring them down today?”

Sometimes he just loved knowing so many billionaires. “Today,” he said. Made for kind of expensive pickles, but he’d never had a particularly good grasp of money anyway, and ever since he’d married Summer, the excessive amounts floating around all these Coreys had completely lost him. Whatever it cost, he was pretty sure it wouldn’t break anyone’s bank account.

When Summer got her pickles, she devoured them. He nibbled one, puzzled, watching the pleasure on her face, trying to imagine what was going on in her mouth, that the crunchy burst of acid would feel so good to it. Then she threw her arms around him and kissed him to say thank you, and he tasted the vinegar on her lips and almost, for a second, knew.

[End of excerpt.]


Permalink to Chocolate Prize goes to Kathy S.–thank you again!

Chocolate Prize goes to Kathy S.–thank you again!

Wow. That idea of putting all the likes and comments here and on my blog for this DABWAHA into a pot and drawing a random name? That took a while!! There were a LOT. I never even realized how many. THANK YOU ALL again for the outpouring of support. That is so incredibly sweet!

Random drew Kathy S.! I’m both delighted for Kathy, who has been wonderfully supportive, and also wish I could give away chocolates to every single one of you! (Plus all the people on Twitter. I couldn’t even begin to figure out a way to enter all of them into a drawing, except to tell them to come over here and like the chocolate post.)

I’ll get that excerpt up soon, so maybe that is at least a little present everyone can enjoy. (Well, I hope you enjoy it!)

And I want to do some giveaways, as I said, of the books from the different classy, amazing authors THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH and SNOW-KISSED went up against in this contest, so keep an eye on things here over the next week or so.

Thank you all so much again! I’m very touched and honored.


Permalink to Chocolate All Around!

Chocolate All Around!

You all were awesome! Thank you so much! We did NOT win, but honestly, I never in a million years expected this delicate, difficult novella to get so far in the first place (I thought for sure Sarah Morgan and then Anne Frasier / Theresa Weir would knock it out), and I *never, ever* expected it to come in so close against one of the huge NA novels of the year, one capable of beating Eleanor & Park, and backed by its huge publisher to boot.

All I can say is, you all are as powerful as a huge publishing house and even more fantastic! Thanks so much for all the support.

We need chocolate! And it’s about that time. Let’s do a Special Dabwaha Edition of the Chocolate Club (can I do that? if I get the chocolate and do the club, is it okay if I call special editions when circumstances warrant?). I’m going to try to collect all the likes/comments for all this DABWAHA stuff, here and on my FB, into one big pot and draw a name from it for a chocolate prize from one of my very favorite US-based (but he’s actually French) chocolatiers, Oh He of the Great Chocolate-Caramel Buddhas, Chocolats du CaliBressan. Go ahead and comment on this post, too, if you’ve been participating or tolerating patiently and want to make sure your name is in the pot. (Yes, it’s a bit of an honor-based system, but so is the DABWAHA after all.) This is a pretty rough and ready way to award a chocolate prize, I guess, but I hope it works? It’s the best way I could think to do it, since I can’t send some around to all the hundreds of voters.

AND I will put up one of those scenes I’ve talked about. I’m in a rush today, but I’ll do it maybe tomorrow. I’m curious to see what you think of the Luc/Summer scene anyway.

I also think I had some incredibly classy and generous competition these rounds, and I’d like to do some giveaways of their books over this coming week, so you all can discover them, too. More on that later! (It’s a busy day here.) Thank you again so much!!

snow-kissed florand


Permalink to DABWAHA again: Sunday noon to midnight CDT

DABWAHA again: Sunday noon to midnight CDT

Okay, in what I feel pretty sure will be the LAST round of DABWAHA, SNOW-KISSED is up against Katie McGarry ‘s DARE YOU TO Sunday from noon to midnight CDT. Sigh. This is supposed to be an amazing book, by the way. I do not read a lot of NA, but I have heard fantastic things about her books from people who do. I’m pretty sure this can only end one way, but it has been a really fun time.

SNOW-KISSED is the LAST novella standing and also the last independently (self) published book, and that is all really very cool. In the Elite Eight! I feel very small and confused and flattered right about now. I’m very proud and very honored that this fragile book could draw this kind of support, and all I can say is THANK YOU. You all have all been awesome.

snow-kissed florand

I have to think of something that would be fun to offer as a thank you, if by any chance SNOW-KISSED does survive tomorrow’s round. A glimpse of another project in the works maybe? Or more of SUN-KISSED or VIE EN ROSES? OH, would you like to see the cover? Because I love it so much! I don’t know if I’m supposed to do an official blog-wide cover reveal, though.

Maybe I could let you see a bit of this sequel I wanted to write about Summer and Luc, and you could tell me what you think. They’re such controversial characters that I don’t know if everyone would love to see more of them as much as I would.

Also, I was actually offline almost all yesterday, teaching, but had scheduled some campaign posts to have fun with Theresa Weir (Anne Frasier), who is awesome. She posted them to her Facebook, and I believe one of her readers said something along the lines of: “Ha, made by a crazed fan?”

To which I can only say: “Hey!”

What do you think? Crazed? Sam the Cat in Geek practices a bit of mind control, and we’re all begging for the sister cat’s story, which Theresa says she won’t be able to write. (But hey…we have to let her know we would love it if she would!) And the chocolate cat is one Theresa actually has and has had for years and never eaten. So I had fun.

dabwaha sister story 2

dabwaha geek mind control

dabwaha geek cat cruelty


Permalink to Friday Book Club! I’m recommending Roman Holiday by Ruthie Knox. What about you?

Friday Book Club! I’m recommending Roman Holiday by Ruthie Knox. What about you?

FRIDAY BOOK CLUB.

(Okay, first of all, a huge thank you for voting in the DABWAHA again. SNOW-KISSED survived! It’s now the last novella standing! Which means 1) More people need to read Geek with a Cat Tattoo, because it is awesome and so charming, and 2) now it will be up against either Eleanor & Park or the book capable of *beating* Eleanor & Park right now, and you know how that’s going to end. But anyway, more voting this weekend. If you missed the sneak peeks of SUN-KISSED and the first Vie en Roses book, Matt Rosier’s, then check out the previous posts.)

But right now, I would like to take a much needed break from DABWAHA campaigning etc and just talk about BOOKS that don’t have anything to do with it. Although I highly recommend really all of my opponents up to here. (For example, THE GEEK WITH THE CAT TATTOO from last round was one of my favorite novellas from last year. I love it and THE GIRL WITH THE CAT TATTOO, and I have recommended them to everyone. The cat’s point of view in each–too charming. Just too much fun.)

In fact I really, really want the sister cat’s story. Here is my evil DABWAHA campaign about it. :)

dabwaha sister story 2

What are you reading? Other than lots of the DABWAHA books, the book I particularly wanted to mention is one that I read ages ago, as an arc, but it’s finally out in its entirety!!

ROMAN HOLIDAY by Ruthie Knox. This was released at first in serial, toward which I have deep reservations. I just don’t like reading books a bit at a time. I get very frustrated. Fortunately, Ruthie kindly let me read the whole book early on, so I didn’t have to. And it’s now available in its full form! So you can read it, too! I so loved this book. The flawed heroine. The road trip. Struggling Roman. I’ve said it before, Ruthie just picks up a big fistful of solid earth and says: *this* is what’s real and Makes It Romantic! I love that. So I definitely recommend this one or any of her other books, if you haven’t tried her.

Up next for me this weekend? Probably an arc I’ve got on my iPad, so maybe more news on that later. What about you? Anything you’ve read recently that you recommend? Anything you’re looking forward to this weekend?

Here’s a little AMZ link to Roman Holiday if you’re curious.

roman-holiday-by-ruthie-knox


Permalink to La Vie en Roses: Promised Sneak Peek

La Vie en Roses: Promised Sneak Peek

Those of you who have been following this DABWAHA contest know already that readers were kind of split in their requests for either an additional sneak peek of SUN-KISSED or of Matt’s still-untitled book, the first of the Vie en Roses books (properly speaking; Turning Up the Heat and The Chocolate Rose are both prequels to this series, and Raoul Rosier’s story is in the anthology No Place Like Home).

Scroll back to previous posts for the sneak peeks of SUN-KISSED, first peek, second peek.

And below you’ll find a little glimpse of Matt Rosier. Thanks so much again to everyone for all your support of THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH and SNOW-KISSED in this DABWAHA contest. SNOW-KISSED comes up for vote again FRIDAY MORNING (midnight to noon CST). But it’s going up against THE GEEK WITH THE CAT TATTOO, only one of my favorite novellas from last year!! So I don’t even know how to tell you to vote against it. But either way you want to vote, the link is here. (Friday morning. There are some other books up for vote right now, though, including Julie James, Sarah Morgan, Deanna Raybourn, and Susanna Kearsley…go have fun!)

burlap roses

EXCERPT: MATTHIEU ROSIER

Burlap slid against Matt’s shoulder, rough and clinging to the dampness of his skin as he dumped the sack onto the truck bed. The rose scent puffed up thickly, like a silk sheet thrown over his head and knotted with rough rope to hold him captive.

He didn’t fight it, too used to it, although maybe he had fought it in the past. Maybe that was all that Nathalie was. And the scars from her were like the ones his wrists would get, twisting against a rope as rough as burlap.

But his hands were utterly free here. Strong and fast and capable, the roses everywhere a silk he could touch, take, hold, nothing that had ever really been possible with Nathalie and which, therefore, had left him very confused about his hands. Hands that could do anything, hold everything, fix everything—and yet they couldn’t touch a woman or fix her or make her his?

He shrugged that away, roughly, the hangover pounding in his head and stirring thickly in his stomach. The lessons he learned from that Paris-model-princess-girlfriend episode were all false ones, but he kept wanting to repeat them anyway, in his head, as if he had imprinted the wrong spelling of a word in his brain or something and couldn’t shake it out to make the right one seem natural again. Was it Matthieu or Mathieu? Who was he, exactly?

It pissed him off, him, who had always known who he was, and he took a deep breath of roses, letting the sounds of the workers and of his cousins and grandfather ride against his skin, be drawn into his lungs. No, this was a good day. It could be. He had a hangover, and he had made an utter fool of himself the night before, but this could still be a good day. The rose harvest.

He stretched and even though it wasn’t that hot yet, went ahead and reached for the hem of his shirt, so he could feel that scent of roses all over his skin.

“Show-off,” Allegra’s voice said, teasingly, and he grinned into the shirt as it passed his head, flexing his muscles a little more, because, well—he liked Allegra. She was cute and happy. And it would be pretty damn fun if she was ogling him enough to piss Raoul off.

He turned so he could see the expression on Raoul’s face as he bundled the T-shirt, half-tempted to toss it to Allegra and see what Raoul did—

And looked straight into the green-brown eyes of Curls.

Oh, shit. He jerked the T-shirt back over his head, tangling in the bundle of it as the holes proved impossible to find, and then he stuck his arm through the neck hole and his head didn’t fit and he wrenched it around and tried to get himself straight and dressed somehow and—oh, fuck.

He stared at her, caught in the T-shirt like a bird in a plastic soda ring, all the blood cells in his body rushing to his cheeks.

Damn you, stop, stop, stop, he tried to tell the blood cells, but as usual they ignored him. Thank God for matte skin. It had to help hide some of the color, right? Right? Heat beat in his cheeks until he felt sunburned from the inside out.

Curls was staring at him with her mouth opened as if he had punched her. Probably thinking what a total jerk he was, first slobbering all over her drunk and now so full of himself he was stripping for her. And getting stuck in his own damn T-shirt.

Somewhere beyond her, between the rows of pink, Raoul had a hand blocking his mouth and was trying so hard not to laugh out loud that his body was bending into it, going into convulsions. Tristan was grinning, all right with his world. And Damien had his eyebrows up in that elegant irony of his, making him look all controlled and princely, like someone who would never make a fool of himself in front of a woman.

Damn T-shirt. Matt yanked it off his head and threw it. But, of course, it didn’t go halfway across the field but let the air friction stop it and fell across the rose bush not too far from Curls, a humiliated flag of surrender.

Could his introduction to this woman conceivably get any worse?

He stared at her, miserable and hostile.

She stared back, her eyes enormous.

“Well, what?” he growled. “What do you want now? Why are you still here?” I was drunk. I’m sorry. Just shoot me now, all right?

She blinked, as if he’d just slapped her, and he wanted to crawl into a hole.

He folded his arms over his chest, trying to hide his chest hair. Because he was pretty sure that made him look like a man, you know, one of that species of big brutes capable of hauling a woman off to a cave. His last girlfriend had at first thought his chest hair was quaintly barbaric, and then a little icky and couldn’t he shave it off like most men did? Her genuine belief that most men had the good manners to shave their chest hair—because most of the men she knew intimately did—should probably have rung greater alarm bells sooner. He wasn’t so good at pretending to be someone he wasn’t. He supposed he hadn’t realized it at first because he hadn’t initially known he was pretending; deep down he’d always hoped maybe he was a prince or a knight in shining armor. “What?” he growled again.

Damn it, that had sounded like a grunt, hadn’t it?

“Matt,” Allegra said reproachfully, but with a ripple disturbing his name, as if she was trying not to laugh. “She was curious about the rose harvest. And she needs directions.”

Directions. Hey, really? He was flat out damn with directions. He could get an ant across this valley and tell it the best route, too. He and bunnies could crouch down and have conversations about the best way to get their petits through the hills for a little day at the beach.

Of course, all his cousins could, too. He got ready to leap in first before his cousins grabbed the moment from him, like they were always trying to do. “Where do you need to go?” His voice came out rougher than the damn burlap. He struggled to smooth it without audibly clearing his throat. God, he felt naked. Would it look too stupid if he sidled up to that T-shirt and tried getting it over his head again?

“It’s this house my great-grandmother gave me,” she said. She had the cutest little accent. It made him want to squoosh all her curls in his big fists again and kiss that accent straight on her mouth, as if it was his, when he had so hell ruined that chance. “113, rue des Rosiers.”

The valley did one great beat, a giant heart that had just faltered in its rhythm, and every Rosier in earshot focused on her. His grandfather barely moved, but then he’d probably barely moved back in the war, when he spotted a swastika up in the maquis either. Just gently squeezed the trigger.

That finger-on-the-trigger alertness ran through every one of his cousins now.

Matt was the one who felt clumsy, stumbling around battered while everyone else went quiet.

“Rue des Rosiers?” he said dumbly. Another beat, harder this time, adrenaline surging. “113, rue des Rosiers?” He looked up at a stone house, on the fourth terrace on the edge of the valley, just where it got too steep to be practical to grow roses for harvest unless the price went way up. “She gave it to you?”

Curls took a step back.

Had he roared that? His voice echoed back at him, as if the valley held it, would squeeze it in a tight fist and never let it free.

“After all that?” Five months. Five months his Tante Colette had had him working on that house. Oh, could you fix the plumbing, Matthieu? Matthieu, that garden wall needs mending. Matthieu, I think the septic tank might need to be replaced. Every single time he had started writhing at how ridiculous he had made himself over Nathalie, he’d gone over and beaten that house into submission. His aunt’s list of tasks had been endless. You?”

Curls stared at him, a flash of something across her face—surely she didn’t have any feelings about him soft enough for him to hurt?—and then her arms tightened, and her chin went up. “To her great-granddaughter, yes. I hear people do that kind of thing sometimes.”

Yes, but—“To you?” Tante Colette knew it was his valley. You didn’t just rip a chunk out of a man’s heart and give it to long-lost relative you’d never even met.

Not if you cared anything about him. Tante Colette, were you just using me, too?

“To you?”

Curls’ chin angled high, her arms tight, her eyes shining like the damn dew on the roses. “You seemed to like me last night.”

Wounded, sullen heart, shame, and a hangover were a perfectly horrible combination. “I was drunk.”

She flinched a little as if he’d slapped her. Her mouth set, this stubborn, defiant rosebud. “I never thought I’d say this to a man, but I think I actually liked you better drunk.” Turning on her heel, she stalked back to her car.

End of excerpt

[PS: In case this isn’t clear, Curls is not her real name. Matthieu doesn’t know what that is yet.]

 


Permalink to Talking at Cameron Village Library Thurs March 27, 7 pm (Raleigh NC)

Talking at Cameron Village Library Thurs March 27, 7 pm (Raleigh NC)

For those of you in the Raleigh NC area, I will be participating in a panel with lovely authors Jennifer Lohmann, Erin Knightley, Claudia Dain tomorrow (Thursday) evening at 7 pm, at the Cameron Village Library. I’ll bring some books for giveaways!

Otherwise, note that it’s BYOB (bring your own book) if you want to be sure to have something signed. (The library won’t be selling, and you *know* I personally sell for anything but chocolate. “No, I’m sorry, ma’am, I don’t take checks or credit cards. And definitely not cash. Do you have any chocolate on you?” What? Everyone has their own value system.) But you don’t have to bring anything but your smiling face! (No, don’t sit in that audience and frown. Hey, now.)

If you come, make sure to introduce yourself! I’m looking forward to meeting some of you!


Permalink to Promised Sneak Peek Two

Promised Sneak Peek Two

THANK YOU all again so much for continuing to fight for these books in this DABWAHA contest! Crazy fun, lots of silliness. THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH went down in defeat before Julie James. (But, to be honest, I was just flattered to even be in competition against Julie James! An amazing writer, and her popularity is entirely justified.)

chocolate touch florand

But SNOW-KISSED survived into the Sweet 16. (Although this makes me wonder if enough voters actually read its opponent last round. Sarah Morgan’s RIPPED is such a fun story! The heroine’s point-of-view is laugh-out-loud delightful. You should try it!) It will be up against, gasp, one of my favorite novellas from last year next round: the utterly charming GEEK WITH A CAT TATTOO. (I give up now. I love this novella. I got nothing for this battle. “Uh…don’t vote for the cat? Cats hate chocolate?” :) ) But that vote will be Friday March 28, midnight to noon CST.

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Anyway, when I asked on Facebook and Twitter what people would most like to see as a little thank you, half the people said more of SUN-KISSED and half the people asked for a glimpse of the first Roses book. (Matt Rosier’s book.) So how about we start with a little snippet from SUN-KISSED in Anne’s point of view, because she’s watching Dom and Jaime, so that might be fun both for those of you who fought for THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH and those of you who have been fighting for SNOW-KISSED. The hardest part of sharing snippets is choosing which part to share (it has to make sense, stand alone a bit, but not reveal too much too soon), so I’m still thinking about which bit of the Roses books to show.

(Please remember: this has not been edited yet, not even by me. A very rough draft! If you’re saying, “Hunh? Sun-Kissed? What’s that?” go to the previous post and start there.)

SUN-KISSED, excerpt 2

Oh, good God. There was happiness all over this place. Anne stopped again, smiling a little. The lighting she had designed for the wedding played beautifully over Jaime and Dom, soft and sheltering, a gentle cocoon of mellow gold against the darkness. The sound of the sea shushed steadily over the dunes.

Jaime brought her hands up over her head and twirled with happiness, spinning away from her big, rough-looking new husband as if there was too much of that happiness to stand still for it, whirling back to land with a rush against his chest as if she had to hurry back to that happiness’s source. Dom caught her. Anne was pretty sure that man would always catch her.

And it gave her a solid feeling in her stomach, a belief that maybe some joys in this world, some couples, could make it through.

Jaime danced a little against Dom as she clasped her hands behind his neck, and he cooperated, rocking them gently as if they could still hear the last love song in their heads.

Jaime snuggled against his chest, and Anne was considering her possible avenues for retreat without disturbing them, when Jaime laughed, in almost sleepy contentment. “Did you see my dad? Do you think he’s drunk?”

Dom grunted, this remnant of an irrascibility that too much happiness had almost drugged to sleep. Dom dealt poorly with Mack.  Didn’t trust a man that powerful so close to him or to Jaime, Anne was pretty sure. Mack did a little better with Dom from his side, mostly because, as he had explained to Anne one morning on the beach, whatever Dom’s faults, and there are many Mack’s gravel morning voice had added, he was pretty sure the man would do anything for Jaime. “I thought you told me those two were already together,” Dom said.

Anne’s eyebrows went up.

“Well, they’re discreet about it,” Jaime said. “I guess they didn’t want to upset me and Cade when we were teenagers. Or maybe just didn’t want to let the world into their business, because the world is pretty damn nosy about us. But I’m pretty sure they’ve been a lot more than friends for, what, probably a decade now.”

What?

“It’s sweet,” Jaime said. “I think it makes them both so much happier. Although they’re both a hard read.”

Dom shook that black head of his. He was fresh-shaved and very elegant in a tuxedo for his wedding, although a secret rebel’s tuxedo, with an open neck to his white shirt. But he would always have this sexy, big, dangerous thing going on.

Well, what?  Anne’s mouth curved in her shadows. So she thought her sons-in-law—wait, Mack’s sons-in-law—were pretty hot. So sue her. It sure as hell wouldn’t be the first time she’d been sued.

“I don’t know what they might have had when you were a teenager, but if they did have something going on, he screwed up or something happened, and she cut him off,” Dom said definitely. “And he’s been cut off for a while. Your dad looks at her like she’s a castle he’s about to bring down.”

Oh, he did, did he? All Anne’s forces manned her walls in defensive instinct, just at the thought. She hadn’t built those castle walls to be penetrable. She’d built them to withstand a siege.

And somewhere, deeper, lower down, like this secret tunnel that some spy inside her wanted to open to the enemy: He did, did he? He wanted in that badly?

Jaime laughed. “Well, she’d better watch out then. Because once my dad starts his pieces across a chessboard, he wins. Even if he has to knock the whole damn table over and go for the other player’s throat to do it.”

[end of excerpt]

I hope you enjoyed seeing Dom & Jaime again! Thanks again so much for all your support! It really means a lot.

 


Permalink to Promised Sneak Peek!

Promised Sneak Peek!

First of all, THANK YOU all for voting both THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH and SNOW-KISSED on in this DABWAHA. I really appreciate all the support. I hope it is not a pain for people to keep being nagged for votes!

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SATURDAY Noon to Midnight (CST), THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH goes up against Julie James’ LOVE IRRESISTIBLY. Ha, ha, ha. Well, we know how that goes.

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:) Not that I might in any way comparing the lovely Julie James to the Balrog of Moria, of course. :) Although if that drum soundtrack wasn’t copyrighted, I would totally be having it play with this post right now. :)

But of course I would love it if you vote to keep up the good fight! And Sunday, SNOW-KISSED will face off against Sarah Morgan’s RIPPED. Sigh. Why DABWAHA, why? What did I ever do to you?

That said, ALL the other books in these rounds are so darn good, I’m not sure *who* I would have wanted to face off against. It’s fun, and a huge honor, to trade banter with such amazing company in the first place. Thank you all for your support! I’m so hugely flattered to have made it to Round 2.

Also, during these rounds, make sure you join us on Facebook. To encourage discussion of unknown authors, I’ve asked readers each round to talk about what books they’ve read, which ones they recommend, etc., and I draw a name from the commenters to receive a book of choice from that Round/Set’s book contestants. It’s been a lot of fun and my TBR has increased enormously! Come join us Saturday and Sunday for more!

A PRIZE FOR THE NEXT ROUND

IF  THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH advances, I will share the first chapter of the book I occasionally mention having on the back burner that features a female chocolatier. Dom is in it! :) Thus the choice.

I still need to think for SNOW-KISSED for Sunday. Maybe something else from the below. What do you think?

PROMISED FIRST ROUND PRIZE

MEANWHILE, fulfilling my promises for the first round, which were: “If THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH and/or SNOW-KISSED advance to round 2, I will share a scene of Dom and Jaime’s wedding from the point of view of the person with the most to lose.

This is in draft form!! Be warned. This is the Very First anyone has seen of this book, even of its title. I hope you enjoy!

SUN-KISSED (a very, very short novel in the Chocolate series, coming maybe May 2014 but this is not yet firm)

EXCERPT

“Pay attention to your daughters,” Anne told him. “Cade spent a lot of time on this slideshow.”

Mack turned his head as the first image flashed—Jaime as a newborn, so small he used to hold her in one hand, oh fuck. And then all grinning and chubby-cheeked and freckled and smeared with chocolate. There was one with Julie, helping her learn how to walk, Jaime’s little one-year-old round face just as proud as punch in herself, and Julie beaming, her red head bent to Jaime’s baby-pale red hair. His throat clogged. There were both his little girls, peeking out of some giant resin dinosaur egg in a museum, when they were, what, two and five? So freaking innocent, so sweet. The way they used to pile up on him in the morning. He used to get up extra early, try to sneak in some work so he could take his time over breakfast with them all, so he could get home a little early and not work again until after they went to bed. It had worked out—poorly, at that age. They seemed to have a radar for when he woke up, and no matter how early it was, five minutes later, there would be some head poking in through his office door—then the run, run across the still-dark office that kind of scared them, even though he had learned to keep nightlights along the hall, and the little body burying itself in his arms, snuggling up. Falling back to sleep just at that angle where he couldn’t actually use his arms and get any work done, but—he’d liked it too much to give it up.

More photos with Julie. There she was fixing Jaime’s hair. Holding the hands of both girls in their extra-fancy sparkly dresses as they tried to wear their mother’s heels.

Cade had tried to bring in, through photos, all those things Julie would have liked to do with her daughter at her wedding—fix hair, help with her pretty dress, smile proudly and tenderly as Jaime set off on her next phase in life.

Photos with him. Lots with him, lifting them up in the air, twirling them around, playing with them in the water. Christ, had he really looked that young when they were babies? He was just a kid himself, and already thinking he could run the world? Never lacked for nerve, had he?

A beautiful family photo, one of the many that decorated their house, he and Julie each with an arm around each other, the other arm cradling the girls into the shelter of their happy family.

A newspaper headline from that time Jaime had gotten arrested at a G-8 summit. God almighty, that girl had been a handful. Some photos of her on cocoa farms, a delicate photographic balancing act on Cade’s part, to honor that phase of her life without letting it lead them too close to another transformative event in Jaime’s life, one that Mack still couldn’t think about without his breath shortening, his body caving, as if fists were pounding his lungs. Without his own fists clenching and punching until they broke things.

He glanced at Dom, the big, rough, black-haired Parisian chocolatier his daughter had chosen for herself. Not exactly his dream son-in-law, but Mack had to give him credit—the man would take care of her. He would fight for her. Fight him for her, the bastard. Not that many men willing to fight him. Dom would do his damn best by her.

Another photo, just of Julie, a beautiful one where the sunlight fell on her face just right and her expression as she looked into the camera was so tender, so loving. Under it, Cade had captioned I am so proud of you.

Jaime bent her head and started to cry.

Mack took a step forward—but Dom’s hand was already there. Curving over the nape of her neck. Big and scarred and saying, It’s all right. Cry if you need to. I’m here.

Dom was there. Not Mack. She had somebody else to hug her now, when she needed it, whose hugs she would want more than her daddy’s.

The last slide came up, Jaime and Dom in their wedding clothes, Jaime’s head tilted up, Dom’s tilted down, the expression on their faces—

A hand took his arm, pulling him gently around.

“Damn.” He scrubbed the back of his hand across his eyes, breathing raggedly.

Anne kept tugging, guiding him away from the crowd out onto the veranda. It was a lovely night, but just for a moment the crowd was all inside, focused on the speeches and the first dance, which was about to start. He’d have to get back. He had to do the daddy-daughter dance.

Oh, fuck.

Shit, and he’d been the man who once thought he was too tough to cry. Before his daughters and his wife pummeled all his emotions wide open. He scrubbed water off his face again, trying to calm his stupid ragged breathing.

“Sorry,” he told Anne, who probably never cried. She probably hadn’t even let herself cry the night before she went to prison. “Damn. It’s just that she’s—he’s—oh, damn, they’re all gone now. They’re not my little girls.”

Anne stroked the flower petals of his boutonnière, the one she had made for him, as if getting those petals to lie exactly right would fix everything. “They’re still your little girls,” she said quietly.

“They are to me,” he agreed, anguished. “But they’re not to anyone else. No one will ever, ever love them as much as I—” He broke off, sniffling like an idiot, turning his head to stare at the ocean across the dune.

“I know,” Anne said, sadness shifting across her face, so subtly he was probably the only man who would ever spot it. And it had taken him fifteen years of walks along the beach. Her only son was married, too, and Anne had never talked much about how close that marriage had come to a divorce, but for God’s sake, the two had lived apart for well over a year. Mack hadn’t seen Kai during that time, but Kurt had been a mess, like he was being oh-so-slowly stretched on a rack, inch by excruciating inch past bearing.

He pulled Anne into his arms, suddenly, knowing she wouldn’t like it, but just needing a shared hug, for a moment, with someone who really did understand.

And fuck, why hadn’t she ever talked to him about what was going on with Kurt and Kai? He’d thought that was what they were, the two people who could talk to each other when they could talk to no one else.

Her body went startled and stiff in his arms, which pissed him off somehow, and he snuggled it, teaching her body how well they fit. He’d had a wife and two girls, and he knew how well a hug fit. She relaxed so warily you’d think he’d been asking a snowman to sun-bathe, honest to God.

It’s not going to kill you, damn it. You’re not actually made of frozen water.

Snow Queen, they’d always called her in the press during that enraging criminal justice pursuit. Or Ice Queen. For the woman who compulsively collected houses and turned them into homes. Yeah, get a mass of people yapping at you and they were always idiots.

She stood very still in his arms, like she was pretty sure she was not the right puzzle piece for this spot.

Jesus, Anne. He leaned back against the railing, putting some stubbornness in this hug now, pulling her in tight. God, a hug felt good. Even a hug whose smaller half wasn’t quite sure it wanted to be part of it. He’d just been hugging Jaime before he walked her down the aisle only an hour or so ago, so it wasn’t as if he didn’t have hugs in his life, and yet a hug that wasn’t father-daughter but was, you know, man-woman…

Felt good.

Felt damn alive.

Over Anne’s carefully layered cap of frost-blond hair, through the great windows, he saw Dom pull Jaime onto the dance floor, that big, rough, aggressive, utterly enamored son-of-a-bitch handling his daughter, pulling her in close, the strains of the slow dance reaching them on the veranda gently. Jaime laid her head against Dom’s tux with so much trust, as if she was letting herself completely go.

The way she used to lay her head against Mack’s chest when she was a little girl, and fuck you, Dom. Why do they grow up? How did I lose that?

His arms squeezed Anne harder, holding on to the only thing he could.

[end of excerpt]

***

So….in case you want to know more about what this one is about, the cover copy:

SUN-KISSED

They called her the Ice Queen.

Anne Winters. Self-made billionaire. Household name. Divorced single mom. Convicted felon. She didn’t let anyone or anything get to her. No one was allowed to breach the walls around her heart except for her own son. She had only one trusted friend: her vacation house neighbor. They’d been walking the beach together for twenty years. Not that this gave him access to her heart, of course…

They called him a man who got what he wanted.

Mack Corey. Self-made billionaire. Dominant world player. Widowed father of the bride. No felony convictions yet, although his daughters had come close. He’d transformed his family company into one of the top 500 by the age of thirty. He’d raised two daughters who dumped him for idiot arrogant French chocolatiers and went off to live in Paris. Hell, he even managed to tolerate his dad. But that Ice Queen act Anne Winters had going was really starting to get to him…

They’d been friends for twenty years. Could they become lovers?

Could a frozen heart be kissed by the sun?

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