I'll have to say that I'm a bit disappointed with this latest serving of Laura Florand's delectable Amour et Chocolate series, but only because the first two books were absolutely splendid samples of both fiction and food writing. Impossible to read without feeling vaguely disappointed with my own meager fare, in fact. This third installment, however well-written, may have stumbled somewhat in the first two books's wakes.
It all started quite promisingly, and the characters fair hopped off the page. Jolie has just finished writing a cookbook with her father, the once famous chef Pierre Manon, who had fallen into a decline at the loss of his third star. Manon's cookbook and thieved recipes sparks an old grievance--as well as a law suit--with Gabriel Delange, who once worked with Manon in his youth. Ever the dutiful daughter, Jolie ventures to the south of France to try to reason with him and the minute they set eyes upon each other, the chemistry burns straight through the floor, as one might expect from the genre.
There's conflict, of course -- Jolie is torn between her loyalty to her father and her growing attraction to the dynamic Gabriel. The man is a force of nature and she is quite guarded against subsuming her entire life to the needs of a man like him. Gabriel struggles with his own insecurity regarding women and his own rather exuberant personality. It doesn't help that Jolie flippantly tells him she dumps men like him the minute they bore her. Both of them struggle with the practicalities of dating an immensely famous chef. Their courtship is cute and brief, and before long they're hopping across balconies and into bed. Sparks fly, clothes vanish, and also great food is cooked.
Yet, once the book began nearing the end, the story seemed to lose sight of the conflict. There was too much exposition and repetition of their problems, and I began to lose interest. The ending, however, was exactly what it should be, and was charming enough in its happily ever after that I forgive the stutter completely.