Almost forgot the Friday Book Club! We’re still on holiday here (e.g., child out of school). Did you manage to cozy up with any books over the holidays? Or during this snowy weekend some of you are hunkered down in? I will confess I have not managed to read a single book, other than my own. (Was going over the final proofs of THE CHOCOLATE TEMPTATION.) But there are several books I’m looking forward to this January. (Mary Ann Rivers’ first full length book LIVE is coming out in a couple of weeks, and at the end of the month Ruthie Knox’s DEEPER, written under her new adult pen name Robin York. Also Sarah Addison Allen’s newest. What about you?
Just finishing proofing THE CHOCOLATE TEMPTATION. I always catch 100 little things that slipped through all the edits and copy edits in the proofs, which raises my perfectionist stress levels like you wouldn’t believe. I guess that’s why proofs are a good thing, though, right? To relieve that stress, and to start the New Year off right, here’s the first chapter of THE CHOCOLATE TEMPTATION!
The first chapter is short, so more like a snippet, really. Remember, this is Patrick Chevalier and Sarah Lin’s story. (We meet the two of them, particularly Patrick, in THE CHOCOLATE HEART.) And it’s coming very soon!
She hated him.
Tossing around dessert elements as if they were juggling balls he had picked up to idle away the time and, first try, had dozens flying around his body in multiple figure eights.
Sarah hated him with every minute painstaking movement with which she made sure a nut crumb lay exactly the way Chef Leroi wanted it on a financier. She hated him with every flex of tendons and muscles in her aching hands in the evening, all alone in her tiny Paris apartment at the approach to Montmartre, knowing someone else was probably letting him work the tension out of his own hands any way he wanted.
She hated him because she knew he probably didn’t even have any tension in his hands. That after fifteen or more brutal hours in one of the most mercilessly perfectionistic pastry kitchens in the world, he was still as relaxed as if he’d been sunning all day on a beach, occasionally catching a wave.
She hated him because five thousand times a day, his body brushed hers, his hand caught her shoulder or touched her back to guide their bodies around each other, in that constant dance of sixteen bodies in a space much too small for so many people working at blinding speeds. She hated him because every time his body controlled hers so easily, she felt all the lean, fluid muscles from his fingertips to his toes – and knew that however lazy he looked, those muscles knew tension.
She hated him because most times when he touched her he didn’t even notice, and once in a while, when he did, those vivid blue eyes laughed into hers or winked at her as if she was gobble-up delicious, and then he was gone, leaving her heart this messy, unthawed lump that had just tried to throw itself into his hands and ended up instead all gooey over her own shoes.
Fortunately black kitchen shoes were used to receiving a lot of gooey messes on them over the course of a day.
“Sarabelle,” he called laughingly, and she hated him for that, too. The way her ordinary, serious American name turned so exotic and caressing with those French Rs and dulcet Ahs, like a sigh of rich silk all over her skin. The way he added belle onto it, whenever it struck his fancy, as if that couldn’t break someone’s heart, to be convinced someone like him thought she was belle and then realize he thought everybody was belle. He probably called his dog belle, and his four-year-old niece belle when he ruffled her hair.
And they both probably looked up at him with helpless melting, too.
She hated him because she knew he couldn’t even have a dog, given his working hours, and that somehow her entire vision of Patrick Chevalier, which was all of him he let her have, could not possibly be true.
Happy 2014! May this be a wonderful year for you, full of lots of great chocolate, great books, great people, and, of course, lots of love!
It’s the time of the year for those Best of 2013 lists. I’m very proud of the nods the Chocolate books have been getting while I’ve been away on holidays (and it’s interesting to me to see that each book out this year — Chocolate Kiss, Chocolate Rose, Chocolate Touch, and Chocolate Heart — has different contenders), but I think I’m particularly touched by Willa’s choice of SNOW-KISSED for her top 10 for the blog Dear Author. This story was just so heart-wrenching to me to write, and so delicate, and I know it has been a difficult read also for many people. I think the story itself still feels extremely sensitive and vulnerable to me. Willa says: “This was another book that hit me right where I live. It’s a heartbreaking story about how guilt and pain can destroy a marriage, with a tender, steadfast hero who refuses to stop fighting for the woman he loves, no matter how little she thinks she deserves it.”
And I like this, because I think it captures what I was really trying to do with this story.
While it’s always flattering and touching when one’s own books make a best of list, the other really nice thing about these lists is that I often find lots of new reads myself.
So in lieu of the Friday Book Club which we missed over the holidays, what are some of your best books from 2013? (And please don’t feel you have to say mine! You all are sweet to me but it’s okay! I’m curious about what else you’ve been reading and what has really stood out for you this year.)
Enjoy your New Year’s Eve tonight, whether a quiet one or full of festivities! (Be careful on the road, post festivities.) I hope you have some wonderful things to remember from 2013 and a great 2014 to look forward to!
Friday Book Club! What are you reading over the holidays? Is this a good time for you to curl up with a book, or do things get too busy with family and cooking? I kind of like the balance — lots of fun with people and cooking, and then a quiet armchair by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. (Good hot chocolate. I can give recipes!)
There’s a book out this week that I read a month or so ago (advanced copy) that I really loved: Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan (AMZ:
Shadowdance: The Darkest London Series: Book 4). Have any of you started this series? Do you read steampunk? I’ve enjoyed the whole series, but particularly loved Jack and Mary in this one.
And TONIGHT I’m curling up with the novella The Geek with the Cat Tattoo, by Theresa Weir (AMZ:
Geek with the Cat Tattoo (Cool Cats)). I just loved, loved the first one, most particularly for the point of view of Max the Cat on the romance. (I wouldn’t have thought myself someone to be utterly charmed by an animal point of view, but this one really works for me!) And that first one is only 0.99 right now, so if you’re curious, good chance to grab it! I can’t wait to read Book 2 tonight.
What about you? What are you reading?
I just love this photo! It’s so fun and sweet of her to do.
And now just a glimpse of Provence at Christmas time…
From A ROSE IN WINTER (NO PLACE LIKE HOME):
She was crazy, Raoul decided, as the sounds of the lower town fell away from them, their footsteps on the path the only hint of human life. Complètement tarée. It must be the mistral. There was probably some unwritten male rule against taking advantage of a woman during the mistral—maybe even her first mistral, judging by her accent.
Pines embraced them, a wind-tossed scent that made homesickness ache like a wound he had to heal. He breathed past the ache, and the scent reached into the bundle of nerves at his nape and relaxed every one of them, sending the message out to the muscles in his body.
Then a wide-eyed, excited, wondering glance skated up his torso, coming from a very small woman who was trying her best to keep her eyes straight ahead, and every single muscle tightened again. Gloriously. Aroused and utterly full of himself. Insanely strong. Strong enough to pick a small woman up, and press her back against a pine trunk, and…
Yes, she had to be out of her mind. He and she were going to have a talk about her trust of strangers later. When he wasn’t one anymore and there was no chance he could be warning her off himself.
Busy tasting my box from Madame Chocolat for the “Chocolate Club”. Okay, I am mildly aggrieved that my box does not actually contain any chocolate hearts. (There was a collection that showed some hearts and some others, and I thought I would try that one, but — no chocolate hearts were included!) However, I am recovering from this, eying your chocolate hearts jealously and tasting my own flavors. You will have to tell me how the caramel hearts taste! (And no, seriously, don’t worry about me. I love tasting all kinds of different things. I am joking about the whining about the luxury chocolates. )
I love, love, the Madame Oscar type pin on the front of these boxes. It’s actually something you could wear later.
It’s official that I and my iPhone are terrible photographers. Yes. I know. My husband could get out his fancy camera and his studio (yes, he has a portable studio thing), but then he might try to steal your chocolates.
You know I’m the only person you can trust with them.
You trust me, right? At least for the rest of the day?
Because don’t forget that today is the last day to enter for a chance at the box of caramel hearts! And you have to tell us what you thought of them, so we can all live vicariously.
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My own contribution introduces the Rosier family of the Vie en Roses series. I had fun with a Little Red Riding Hood in Provence theme with this one! Raoul Rosier is a bit of a wolf at the door. I hope you enjoy this glimpse of the Rosier world and family!
And to celebrate these two back-to-back releases, I’m getting myself a box of chocolate hearts (to go with the theme!) and one for one of you, too. You know the idea I’ve mentioned to have a “chocolate club” where we explore a new recommended chocolatier each month? I’m not sure it’s going to work when the weather warms up, but December is a perfect time for shipping chocolate.
These chocolate hearts come from Madame Chocolat, a Beverly Hills based chocolatier recommended by Elaine of the blog Elaine Travels. (You can find other recommendations from readers that need to be explored on my US Artisan Chocolate recommendations page, where you can also recommend some of your own that you think we need to try next!) It’s very, very difficult to decide, but the Chocolate Heart theme won the day this month, for obvious reasons.
Double entries into the contest for Facebook fans and newsletter subscribers, because I really want this to be a way to say thank you to all of you die-hard “Chocolate” fans and have fun together! Contest open through Sunday Dec 8 midnight. The chocolate can only be shipped to US winners. For international entrants, we can substitute a Chocolate book of your choice if Book Depository ships to your country.
So were you out braving the crowds today and yesterday or safely snuggled up at home with a good book? Anyone got their Christmas tree yet?
I stayed home except for participating in Indie First Day at The Regulator Bookshop. (Where of course I ended up picking up a few Christmas presents.) This event was so much fun! Usually my events at bookstores are so me-focused (giving talks, readings). The chance to just chat with indie bookstore readers about all kinds of other books that I recommend (or they recommend to me) was so much fun. Authors and readers were just hanging out and talking in all directions. Thanks to Chachic’s Book Nook, Random Musings of a Bibliophile, and By Singing Light, I had plenty of advice to offer when people asked if any of the authors around knew some YA books to recommend. I think I spent half my time back in YA! (Sisters Grimm, anyone?)
Among lots of fascinating readers, I also got a chance to chat with author Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational) who is, as you can imagine, completely fascinating, and kept whipping out his phone to record my comments on people who follow recipes versus people who don’t (a cookbook-human behavior project he’s working on). If I show up in one of his books one day sounding like an idiot, just know, I had no preparation. That’s my defense.
Anyway, apparently Indie First Day is planned to repeat again next year at indie bookstores, so make sure to check out your own local bookstore to see what authors they have participating. You meet all kinds of intriguing people.
Here I am with Tom Campbell, owner of The Regulator. I was supposed to be proudly showing off my Indie First bag, but as you notice, there is a slight height differential that proved challenging to frame.
What about you? Do any shopping? Any holiday preparations?
THE CHOCOLATE HEART is here!! And oh, my, Library Journal just did the most incredible STARRED REVIEW for it, and I’m just going to let their quote be my cover copy, how about that:
Chocolate, Paris, and a Greek god for a hero; this delectable confection has it all! – Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
I’m incredibly touched by the accolades this book is getting, in its critical reception.
“Florand outdoes herself with this exquisite confection… painstakingly crafted and decadent as the sweets it portrays, leaving the reader longing for just one little taste.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“All the elements of [Florand’s] successful recipe for reading pleasure—headstrong heroine, dashing hero, sinful desserts, and sultry situations—come together in another deliciously entertaining offering.” – Booklist
“Florand’s long-standing love affair with Paris comes alive in her charming descriptions of the city and the delectable desserts her hero concocts. …[a]delightful story full of sizzling sexual chemistry and a stellar cast of secondary characters.” – RT Book Reviews
I just hope you enjoy it, too! Something to curl up with in this cold weather? Happy holidays! I hope you are enjoying latkes, turkey, pumpkin pie . . . and a little bit of chocolate.