A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

This n That

on January 19, 2014

I have a review of Laura Florand’s The Chocolate Temptation over at Dear Author. This was the hard review I mentioned previously, and I have a terrible feeling that my earnest efforts will probably wind up just pissing everyone off.

Hub and I watched “Somewhere in Time” last night, a movie he remembers fondly from his childhood. Record players, typewriters, going to the library to research someone… it truly is a time-travel movie. And quite lovely… I was interested by how I noticed romance cliches yet found them completely appropriate and effective. I would’ve missed them if they weren’t there.  I disliked the ending; I think I’m just too old now to find it romantic.

I also noticed how much Reeve physically overpowers Seymour in their scenes, which I’m not sure I’ve ever been conscious of in a movie before. He’s so much taller and the way he crowds in and sort of takes her over… it didn’t bother me exactly, but I can see how it could feel intimidating.

I’m now wondering if there’s a t.v. trope for “the loveable stalker.” Another example: “An American in Paris.” No, they have stalking as love but I think this is a specific subset.

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14 responses to “This n That

  1. Miss Bates says:

    I thought it was fair, balanced, not offensive. I’ve only read one Florand and, except for the possible stereotyping, I had “issues” with it. Going against the tide, I know, because reviews I’ve read (and I’ve not read them all), except for yours, seem to laud only.

    • Ros says:

      Oh, I’m curious now! What issues?

      I am mostly so seduced by the descriptions of the food that I am oblivious to any potential flaws in the books. But I do think they have a different feel from a lot of contemporary romances. Almost magical realism, sometimes. I like it, but I’d love to know why it doesn’t work for you.

      • willaful says:

        Yes, magic realism especially in The Chocolate Kiss, which is probably my favorite. My first thought when I read The Chocolate Thief was that Florand writes contemporaries like they’re historicals, though it’s hard for me to explain exactly what I mean by that. You don’t see rich, allusion-filled language like hers in many contemporaries.

      • Miss Bates says:

        Hmm, you’ll find this funny, but it’s the very magical realism that I don’t like, though I loved the chocolate and food references as well. I’ve only read THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH and reviewed it at MBRR. It’s there if you’d like to read it. I don’t want to link on Willaful’s blog, dislike to toot my own horn and all that.

        In a nutshell, I found the conflict weak, the characterization one-dimensional, too many “internal ruminations.” However, I thought the writing was quite solid, adept, in control, though I dislike the style and found it derivative of Harris’s CHOCOLAT. I think, in the review, I rated it a “Hershey bar.” Ouch.

      • Ros says:

        “Florand writes contemporaries like they’re historicals, though it’s hard for me to explain exactly what I mean by that. You don’t see rich, allusion-filled language like hers in many contemporaries.”

        I think that’s a great way to describe it. Her books are definitely set in an ‘other’ sort of world and the language is what makes that happen.

        Miss Bates, I think you’re right that the books are low on conflict. For me, that works well. I love seeing two people just fall in love. I like that the books are, more or less, courtship stories. But I think that’s because plot is generally the least important thing about a book to me (much to the despair of my editor), so I am not really reading for conflict or tension.

    • willaful says:

      You are always welcome to link on my blog. Interestingly, I thought The Chcoolate Touch had much less magic realism/allusion than the previous books and I missed it!

    • lawless says:

      Miss Bates: Thank you; you make me feel less alone. I DNF’d Florand’s Chocolate Thief after reading the ending to see if any of the problems I had were ameliorated (they weren’t — if anything, they were worsened) and was so ticked off that I have no desire to read anything else of hers. Life is too short and my reading list is too long.

      She’s an excellent writer in terms of how she conveys her ideas, but I found the ideas themselves lacking, with the situation contrived and the characters annoying. I simply could not believe that a thirty-something executive with a family-owned US chocolate firm that has the market share of a Hershey’s wouldn’t have the savvy to realize that a high-end Continental chocolatier is likely to throw her out on her rich ass and more confidence in herself than she shows in internal monologue. The book read like she went into the deal with guns blazing expecting market size and money to do the trick and with no Plan B. Even if such a character is believable, she’s not one I want to read about or root for. I like my executives (especially female ones) to be competent and good strategists.

      I also didn’t like the corporate espionage aspects of it and they way stereotypes of the French as arrogant and uninterested in marriage or traditional family values were reinforced — something that’s made a big deal of by the male MC’s mother at the end of the book when she’s delighted that the female MC wants to marry as well as produce children, in that order. (Her sense of place, however, is exquisite.)

      I’m doubly squicked by her apparent insensitivity in the portrayal of a half-Korean character in this latest book and the use of the term (and concept) “anchor baby,” which has political overtones. I’m half-Korean myself and there are plenty of surnames that are unquestionably Korean, including some crossovers with Chinese like Lee and Choy/Choi as well as standbys like Park and Kim. Add to that an interoffice romance that pings my “sexual harassment claim in the waiting” radar and terms of endearment that smack of fetishizing her Asianness, and I’m even less impressed.

  2. Miss Bates says:

    That sounds strange, as if I’m okay with the “stereotyping.” Badness. What I meant to say was that the issue didn’t come up because it wasn’t part of the storyline.

  3. willaful says:

    Expand, expand! Or take it to your own blog, if you want. 🙂

  4. willaful says:

    I’m normally huge on conflict and tension, and generally find most contemporaries lacking in that respect. Florand’s books provide enough of other qualities that I don’t miss them.

  5. Shannon C. says:

    I love the Florand discussion. I am several books behind, but I generally fall in the “love her books” camp. I tend to read a lot of contemporary romance as fantasy without the magic anyway, and one of the things I ike about Florand’s writing is that she makes it easy for me to do that with.

    • willaful says:

      That’s an interesting way to put it. I’ll have to try that approach. 😉

    • lawless says:

      That’s something I’m unable to do unless there are other indications that the book’s realism is questionable, like billionaire heroes or spies. (I also usually view the erotic elements of erotic romance as fantasy, although I usually expect realism in characterization.) For me, realism is part of the point of reading contemporary romance. But I probably have different expectations (and preferences) than most readers of romance.

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