REVIEW: Laura Florand’s THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH, Ou Chocolat Avec Un Enfant Terrible

The Chocolate TouchMiss Bates’s favourite chocolate is dark and encrusted with sea salt and caramel; she waits for it to go on sale (it’s a bit pricey for the spinster budget) at the local drug mart and nabs as many of its knobby bars as she can. It’s not nearly as good as some of the “chocolat artisanal” available in her city, but it isn’t candy-bar dross either. It is, she admits sheepishly, a “designer” knock-off. This is where Florand’s contemporary romance, The Chocolate Touch, stands in the romance spectrum. It’s not the best romance you’ll read this summer, nor the worst. It has stock-in-trade characters, especially the tedious poor-self-esteem-themed hero and heroine, a weak to non-existent conflict, copious amorous scenes to make up for the lack of conflict, and angsty internal monologues also to make up for the lack of conflict. On the other hand, the writing is solid and it’s set in Paris. It’s set in Paris! The author obviously can parlez-vous because the French phrases peppered throughout are kind of cool. Florand captures the spirit and charm of the city. Paris is an expensive city, much like hand-made luxury chocolate, and Florand’s novel serves an armchair traveler like Miss Bates quite well, maybe more than her romance did. This pretty much sums it up, but for details, read on