Interview with Bestselling Author Laura Florand!

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of reviewing Laura Florand’s latest novel, Trust Me (you can read that review here.) I have been a fan of her work for many years and was delighted when she agreed to an interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Laura Florand burst on the contemporary romance scene in 2012 with her award-winning Amour et Chocolat series. Since then, her books have appeared in ten languages, been named among the Best Books of the Year by Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, and Barnes & Noble, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. In 2015, NPR gave her the enormous honor of naming her Chocolate Kiss to its list of the Top 100 Romances of all time.

For more information, please see her website: www.lauraflorand.com.


Interview with Laura Florand

General:

What genres do you read?

I’ve always read a lot of fantasy, and right now I am reading a lot of non-fiction and also some middle grade fantasy novels (with my daughter). I used to consume huge amounts of romance as well, but since my own books came out, I sometimes find it more restful and renewing to just read completely outside the genre and I’ve been reading only 2-3 romances a month lately, so I miss a lot of good authors. And I read a lot of French literature of course, including French-language graphic novels which particularly interest me right now.

What authors have influenced your work?51vllx6sssl

It would be hard for me to say. Everything you read gets pulled in and enriches your own ability to write.

 

What approaches do you take when you write a novel? Are you a pantser or a planner? If a pantser, how does this affect your research, because your books show that you do research, or have a lot of facts at your fingertips?

I just start writing a scene and go from there, letting what the characters do and say drive what happens next, kind of like in real life. The research helps, because the more I can “feel” the characters’ setting and profession, the richer the work is and the more naturally the story develops, in most cases. But also, I write about things I find fascinating and want to write about, so the research is so much fun. I mean…top chocolatiers and pastry chefs in Paris! I used to claim I write the books so I would have an excuse to do the research.

Your work has always been different from the mainstream and you have acquired many readers just based on this. What do you think makes you different?51qyfj2baigl

Oh, I don’t know! I think so many authors have unique voices that set them apart in some ay. After all, writing within a genre is essentially taking familiar stories and giving them your own voice and twist. I write from the heart, and I think once you do that, you will always have a voice unique to you.

Also, if I’m not mistaken, you have decided to start self-publishing. Is this because you wanted to branch out from the mainstream? What affect has this had on you, your writing, and/or your readers?

Do you have any advice for the newbie writers who are wondering about going mainstream or self-publishing?

I think my main motivation is just that I like the control. I don’t see why I should give up rights to something I wrote and am almost exclusively responsible for creating, and give up those rights for the life of copyright and maybe 10% of the profits. (This is not to put down the wonderful help editors etc can provide, but there is nothing on par with writing the book itself.) Technology has changed since I was a kid, and I’m happy to enjoy its benefits in this way.

51c4e9o4rwlA definite benefit (to me at least) is that retaining control of my writing means I can write what I want. No one can tell me, Oh, a French heroine of Algerian origin wouldn’t be marketable. All your heroines have to be Americans and, ahem, non-denominational. I write the story I want to write, with the characters who want a story.

Turning Up the Heat and Snow-Kissed were two of the first stories I wrote to self-publish, and I really feel that in both I did something I would never have been able to do in the tradtional publishing industry. I love both those stories so much and the freedom I had to write them to the story and not to the market.

Conversely, of course, as any experienced successful author will tell you, if you write to the story and not to the market, it’s pure luck if the “market” decides to read you anyway.

For newbie writers: How to publish is a hard question and should be—it’s a huge career 51ng-jbeprldecision. I am not a fan of giving up your rights for little return, I will say that. The main challenge, of course, as a new writer, is establishing your bona fides in a saturated market. In a world where even my ten-year-old can publish a book easily (and she keeps pressuring me to let her do that), how do you get other people to start noticing and respecting your own work as worth their time? That’s still the biggest hurdle for those who start off self-publishing, a bigger hurdle for them than it is for traditionally published newbies who have the stamp of approval from a publishing house to help give them credibility. My credibility was established before I shifted to self-publishing, so I’m not the best qualified to give advice on how to establish it on your own. But I certainly know many authors who did it, meaning it is possible.

51ee9zjjrilNow, a couple of questions about The Paris Nights series. Did you plan the entire series and, if so, has it changed? How has it changed?

No, I didn’t plan the entire series. That is, I planned to write stories about three female friends, and have the females be the chefs themselves at last (instead of the almost all male chefs in the Amour et Chocolat series), but after I finished All For You, I remember watching some Hollywood film one night, full of banter and action and completely unrealistic scenarios and saying out loud, “Why can’t I write a book like Hollywood? I bet my readers would massacre for my lack of credibility if I did.” And then that first scene between Chase and Vi started growing in my head and I thought, Oh, hell, I’m just going to have fun.

But as I was writing, the terrorist attacks of Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan happened, and I actually knew one of the people hurt, so that made writing a “Hollywood” book about terrorism very tough.

51ardz2elql“Chase Me” felt completely different to me as I was reading. And, even more so, “Trust Me” is different yet. I felt that it was weightier, more searching. What does “Trust Me” mean to you?

Well, Trust Me is the aftermath. It’s the reality to the Hollywood story, and the difficulty in that book was in finding a balance of hope and love during a very dark time. I refused to write the classic “dark moment” for it. I said the dark moment was the start, and all the rest of the book was the healing.

Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?

Honestly, no. All of them have a special place for me. You put your whole heart every time into writing a book.

What do you have in store for us next?

Working on Lucien’s book in the Vie en Roses series! I hope you all will enjoy his story!

And thank you so much, Sascha, for the interview and for inviting me on!


PRAISE FOR LAURA FLORAND’S NOVELS:

“Chocolate, Paris, and a Greek god for a hero; this delectable confection has it all!” – Library Journal Starred Review

“(Florand) captures the nature of love, its fierce, soul-warming necessity, in a way that will make you as happy as the finest bonbon could.” – Eloisa James, The Barnes & Noble Review, a Best Book of 2013 selection

“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

“Adorable, charming, whimsical.” – Smexy Books

 “Florand serves up a mouth-watering tale of slow-burning passion and combustible consummation that’s as perfectly crafted as the hero’s surprisingly complex confections and as silky and addictive as the heroine’s dark chocolat chaud.”– RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars, TOP PICK!, RT Seal of Excellence, RT Reviewers Choice nomination Best Book of 2013

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Exciting News!

On Monday, April 24, Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored is hosting an interview with one of my favorite writers, Laura Florand!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

author_picture

Laura Florand burst on the contemporary romance scene in 2012 with her award-winning Amour et Chocolat series. Since then, her books have appeared in ten languages, been named among the Best Books of the Year by Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, and Barnes & Noble, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. In 2015, NPR gave her the enormous honor of naming her Chocolate Kiss to its list of the Top 100 Romances of all time.

For more information, please see her website: www.lauraflorand.com.

 

Review of Trust Me

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Trust Me

Laura Florand

Paris Nights Series

Release Date: April 4, 2017


Blurb from Goodreads: She’s nobody’s damsel in distress…
Top Parisian pastry chef Lina Farah is used to fighting for her success. But when a violent attack shatters her security, she needs a new tactic to battle her dragons. What better way to banish the monsters under her bed than by inviting a sexy SEAL to tangle the sheets?

He’s a professional dragon slayer…
Elite operative Jake Adams has never stayed in one place long enough to form a lasting relationship. Lina’s fire and beauty tempt him to give her the hot affair she craves. But her spirit and courage make him long for more. Can he convince a woman seeking forgetfulness to dream of ever after…with him?


I feel like there are a handful of writers who I can trust to always provide me with an enjoyable read. That list has grown and shrunk, currently more the latter, over the years because some writers cave to the pressure of publishers who demand that they fulfill a particular niche supposedly requested by the readers. That means that in the past few months I have read a startling number of romances between a man and his best friend’s sister, which is supposed to be a taboo relationship. (Erm, talk about redefining taboo!) Seriously, there seem to be three or four go to tropes lately, take your pick, throw in stock characters, cue sex scenes, voila, novel!

Which brings me to Trust Me by Laura Florand. Throw out clichés. Throw out stock. Throw out standard because this novel breaks all of those molds. Florand has even broken some of what might have been her own previous “molds.” Yes, the language is still imbued with a romantic lyricism that has always differentiated her novels from most romances on the market. Yes, the relationship is still complex. But there is an added element of philosophy, of characters considering their place with each other and in this world. It’s thoughtful, unrushed, eloquent.

Lina and Jake are in some ways typical Florand characters. They are strong, yet vulnerable. They are playful. But probably more than any of her previous characters, while Jake and Lina are still products of their environment, they are also more importantly citizens of the world. So, no, this probably isn’t a typical romance novel–it’s better.

Lina’s happiness felt like a great big swell coming in, dangerous but beautiful, and she wanted to be a surfer, to know how to capture it and ride it all the way in to the beach

Seize it. Every beautiful possibility life could hold.

Never again in her life would she be able to just trust that she had a tomorrow.

Last week, I talked about writers versus storytellers. What I didn’t say in that discussion, is that it’s always possible for an author to be both. By telling a believable engrossing story with rich lyrical prose, Florand proves that she is both.

Lastly, I am a huge believer in that grand gesture in romances and while I haven’t been keeping count, I can’t point to many since I have been blogging. So I was more than thrilled with the one in Trust Me, which was touching and beautiful and wove together so many of the charming elements of the story.

Oh, one more thing. Jake has freckles. Lots and lots of kissable freckles on a studly bod– put that together with smart and kind and you have one helluva a kickass hero. Just sayin’.

If you haven’t read a Florand novel, do. Trust Me can be read as a standalone, but at the very minimum, I would suggest you read Chase Me, which is the second book in the Paris Nights Series. Or go for them all and start with All for You.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Reading!

To purchase from AmazonTrust Me


rating: 5-butterflies (5 out of 5 butterflies)


Review of Crown of Bitter Orange

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Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand

AOS Publishing

Release Date: January 24, 2017


Blurb from GoodreadsChildhood friends.
Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life.

Lifelong enemies.
Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help.

Or the perfect match?
They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?


From the very first lines of Laura Florand’s  Crown of Bitter Orange the reader knows that she is embarking on an enchanted tale.

“Well, look at that. Prince Charming. Malorie should have known she’d stumble over him the instant she set foot back in his kingdom.”

Here, however, the evil forces keeping Prince Charming Tristan Rosier and the Princess, Malorie Monsard, from matching are decades in the making. The animosity between the two families grew out of the betrayal of the resistance movement by Malorie’s great-grandfather during WWII that resulted in the deaths of several of the townspeople. As if that weren’t enough, Malorie is also battling a distrust of men, instilled in her after the betrayal of her narcissistic father. And, then her family dissolved, mother and sisters abandoning their home to live in the far reaches of the world, leaving behind their beloved grandmother.

Malorie has had to depend solely on herself and envies the supportive and close-knit Rosier family. The Rosier cousins stick together and always have in great part due to Tristan, who seems like a charming, but perhaps shallow playboy. Beneath the veneer, however, is an extremely intelligent empath who struggles to keep his family together as well as a gifted perfumer.

As in previous novels, Florand creates a love story written with poetry and feeling. Malorie and Tristan “feel” deeply. Malorie wars with herself in her dealings with Tristan to remember that he is Tristan; he is not her father or any of the other unreliable and narcissistic men in her family. Tristan wars with himself to understand and negotiate the walls that Malorie has erected. While emotional, the characters are also rational. You won’t find the melodrama of the emotional misunderstanding, the type that could have been dissolved by a simple question. Instead, the barrier arises from acknowledged self-constructed barriers and Malorie is self-aware enough to want to remove the walls so that she can have her happily-ever-after with Tristan, whom she has always adored.

Again, as in previous Florand novels, the language is extremely sensual and lush, unhurried and poetic.

There are many things that I love about this novel, but I had a definite “yes!” in reaction to this:

“She’d never been attracted to bad boys. Maybe because she’d known Tristan all her life. She’d always known, up close and personal, that the sexiest creature on Earth was a really good guy.”

And, yes, Tristan probably represents the apex of book boyfriends. He is heart, soul, sensuality, sweet, and funny.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From AmazonCrown of Bitter Orange


rating: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly (5 out of 5 butterflies)


Review of Close to You

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Former Navy Pilot. Girl Next Door. She’s been in love with him since she was five. He returns home and sees that she’s grown up. Ah, romance. The blurb sounds really, really good. Let’s just say that I wish that I had left it at that and not spent hours that I can never get back reading Close to You by Kristin Proby.

Disclaimer: I imagine that there some reviewers who salivate over giving bad reviews because they can show how sharp, funny, intelligent or whatever they are. I’m not one of them. I don’t like to write bad reviews, but it seems that sometimes it’s inevitable. I don’t get paid to do this, obviously, but I feel like when a publisher sends me an ARC that I owe them something solid in return. What is frustrating for me is that I have spent time reading a poorly conceived or written novel because I hate DNF’s (did not finish). Fortunately, I think (and you can see from my reviews)  that the good books for me far outnumber the bad. So I guess it’s just buck-up and move read on.

Close to You is told from the first person point-of-view of both Cami, the “heroine,” and Landon, the “hero.” (Yes, I really mean those quote marks.) I mention the narration because that’s where the trouble for me began. Cami’s story starts the first chapter and Landon’s picks up in the second. And there’s immediately repetition in the second chapter of details that Cami has already related in the first, as if we hadn’t just read it. For me this is a red flag, as if the writer is being paid by the word or has a quota or just can’t be bothered to pay attention.

Then comes a scene where a supposed professional chef and restaurant owner (one and the same) is being apathetic about learning anything about wine, intending to leave it to the sommelier. I suppose it’s meant to be funny or show something about the character, but what it does show is that the author hasn’t researched anything about good restaurants. A  chef of any credibility is not going to pooh-pooh the idea of learning about the wines that might accompany a meal; they however will be almost as authoritative as the sommelier because the wines are supposed to enhance the meal. Okay, so that’s nitpicking, but I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant/food oriented romance series by both Louisa Edwards (from Amazon) and Laura Florand  (from Amazon) and when they take on romances and restaurants, they know what they’re doing; not to mention the fact that I’ve been known to watch the Food Network. Research!

Did I digress? It’s possible. I certainly did when I was reading Close to You because of the action. What action? you might ask. This is what I read: Cami has a crush on Landon. Landon has a crush on Cami. They get together. Who’s going to be the first to say “I love you?” Not her, because what would happen if she did and she didn’t hear it back? It’s definitely the end of the world as we know it, I can assure you. For thirty year olds? Come on! If you say it and he doesn’t feel it, move on.

There is no tension (the only tension exists between Cami and her unwanted cat, Scoots). There is no conflict except for that which exists in Cami’s head because she thinks that Landon is not going to stay. There is no swoon. They have unremarkable sex. No actual drama occurs until Chapter 18 and there are 20 chapters.

Characterization. There isn’t much. We are told Cami is sweet. Landon is a wuss–my interpretation. The cat’s the only one who evolves—he goes from being mean to sweet and having a personality; that, my friends, is character development. Yay, cat! Cami doesn’t wear underwear. This is a “thing” in the book. She doesn’t not wear them to make herself feel sexy; she doesn’t wear them because she’s worried about panty lines. And then she’s unpacking Landon’s clothes that have been shipped from Italy and she’s absorbing their smell because they smell like him. He packed his dirty clothes? Well, that’s what I’m thinking because clean clothes probably won’t smell like him and between her not wearing panties and this, I’m thinking we are into some real hygiene issues here. Yes, this is what happens when a book is dull. You start picking up on things that you shouldn’t because you just aren’t engrossed (maybe grossed out, but not engrossed).

Dialogue. There’s too much of it. If it were witty repartee (see Kristan Higgins or Jill Shalvis), I would love it to bits, but mostly it’s silly (not haha silly) interaction with lots of giggling and “ews.” It doesn’t drive the plot or add to characterization. It’s everyday inane chitchat.

And, lastly, if you like to read a novel and feel like you are there because of description, you’re not going to get it here. The majority of the novel is dialogue.

Heat: ** (Nothing unique here; I kept waiting thinking that maybe something different would happen in the sex department and that’s why the book exists, but you’ve read it all before.)

Who would I recommend this to? People who are very, very, very, very easily entertained and who don’t notice or care about plot or character development. And, instead of this book, I would recommend either Louisa Edwards or Laura Florand (see above).

I’m giving this 1 and 1/2 butterflies and I’ll explain to you why, which I normally don’t feel like I have to. I’m giving it 1 because it’s a finished novel; someone worked on it and got it from beginning to end. 1/2 for the character development of the cat and the author getting me to read it because of the navy pilot and girl-next-door (well-played).

I received an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

From Amazon: Close to You

rating:butterfly ladybug