When I started reading Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat Series, the Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss and The Chocolate Touch, in particular, I wondered why the books affected me so much. I couldn’t read without nibbling on a chocolate bar or wanting to smell coffee (and I’m not much of a coffee drinker, mind you). I think I must have consumed more chocolates while reading her books than in my whole life.
It is because Florand, I believe, is a messenger of the senses. She writes vivid imageries with eloquence and poetry, giving the five senses their rightful due in the world of the written word. It is her job to entice the reader to smell the words, taste the phrases and feel the sentences. Where the reader will have no choice but to sneak in fear and excitement with Cade in Sylvain’s laboratoire in the dead of the night or to laugh that lion of a laugh along with Phillipe or hold their breath with Dominique as he watches Jaime bite into his creations. It is her gift, to be able to get the reader to share these experience with her characters
To see, without sight:
“But she noticed he didn’t put his own sweater on, or even his shirt. Half-naked, seemingly indifferent to the cold, he tossed flavors into a cauldron, whisking milk and chocolate and cacao together, brewing her hot chocolate. His body was utterly beautiful in motion. Long and lean, it was the perfect masculine form of a flat stomach and broad shoulders, dark hair curling on his chest, his jaw-length hair tucked behind his ear on one side, falling to tease his cheek on the other. He mastered every motion so perfectly, so efficient and easy.”- The Chocolate Thief, Chapter 13
“Her aunts had written her specific directions: Follow the river and cross one island filled with tourists and pigeons gathering before God. Thread through them, shake her head at postcard vendors, protect her bag from pickpockets, and come to the little garden tucked like a secret behind the cathedral, hidden by the big tour buses that lined the street from end to end. There, a bridge arched up, spanning the river in one graceful leap. And at the peak of the arch, a young man stood at the rail of the bridge. His long gold hair was tied with a leather strap at the base of his neck. His white poet’s shirt rippled from the movements of his arm. He played the violin, intensely and with passion, old, rich music she almost recognized escorting her across the bridge. “-The Chocolate Kiss, Chapter 5
To hear without sound:
” “So, you’re back,” a voice from behind her said.
Cade felt the hair shiver on her arms and the nape of her neck. The way it always did when the sorcerer surprised her in the dark. “You know I couldn’t stay away.”
He came up behind her, until her body was trapped between his and the desk. The nape of her neck felt very exposed. “I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I’m looking for a new apprentice.
Sorcerer’s apprentice. His voice, rich and dark as the night and his art, made it sound as if she was bartering for body and soul. The scent of his chocolate was everywhere, flooding into his office from the laboratoire.” – The Chocolate Thief, Chapter 29
“Magalie took a step toward her. “Do I know you?” she murmured.
The girl laughed out loud. “You make good chocolate,” she said and brought her bow down on the violin.
It was like being pierced with a thousand points of light. Heaven touched earth. It was the most beautiful sound Magalie had ever heard in her life.
Everyone on the bridge stopped. The waiters in the café at the far end of it froze and turned toward her. People stood from their tables to get a better look.
The other young woman was grinning, brilliant with joy. Her music washed over everyone, some great ode to freedom.” – The Chocolate Kiss, Chapter 37
To taste without flavor
“Her body prickled all over. She wanted to reach into that box, pick up the pastry, and bring it to her mouth. Feel the crumbs of the pistachio against her lips. The smoothness of the strawberries, their tartness. And under it—what did the coating of pistachios hide? Cream or cake, flaky or smooth, or layer upon layer of surprises?” – The Chocolate Kiss, Chapter 10
“She shook her head. “I liked all of them.” Flavor after astonishing flavor, always a surprise, always delicious, combinations of exotic flowers and herbs and vinegars with a darkness that came inside and shook her mouth and through it her whole body. She had loved his chocolates. Tonight she was going to go right back out on another trip around the world, escorted by their dark and delicious creator, curled up in her bed. Imagining him pulling her in against that hard body and feeding them to her . . .”- The Chocolate Touch, Chapter 4
To feel without touching
“She went by aroma, as it proved easier than trying to read the words. Another jar rattled slightly and released a piquant scent. She touched her finger to the familiar small rounds of whole pepper. Another jar puzzled her for a moment with its licorice scent. She traced rough stars . . . star anise. Vanilla was easy. She picked up a bean because she could not resist it, running her finger down the glossy, wrinkled length of it, imprinting herself with the aroma. TAHITI claimed the crate of chef pouches, the brand so bold she could make it out even in the dark.
Trailing vanilla and lemon, she plunged her hand into a great burlap sack stamped with the word IRAN. Roundness slid over her hand, a curiously intense pleasure of texture. Pistachios. She closed a fist around some as she pulled her hand out and ate them, capturing the unroasted flavor inside her the way she had taken the lemon and the vanilla onto her skin.
PÉRIGORD claimed a crate full of almonds. She ate one of those, too, picking up a handful, letting them slide over her palm back into the crate.” – The Chocolate Thief Chapter 10
“She closed her mouth around the chocolate, because, whatever his reasons, hers were . . . that it allowed her lips to brush the hard tips of his thumb and index finger. Their warmth and texture shivered from the sensitive skin of her lips all through her, as his chocolate hit all the taste sensors in her mouth, from a touch of fleur de sel to bitter to sweet, and started melting on her tongue.”-The Chocolate Touch, Chapter 7
To smell without scent
“She poured milk into a pot, thinking of Sylvain Marquis simmering cream. She dropped in the cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean, then grated nutmeg over it. The scents were heavenly. Or diabolic. Anyone would sin for scents like that, for the promise of life and flavor. “- The Chocolate Thief, Chapter 13
“She dumped his big handful of chocolate into the milk and cream, equal to almost two of hers. This might be her darkest chocolate ever. The scents, in abeyance when they arrived, filled the kitchen now, overwhelming his caramel, making the world one breath of chocolate, wisped with cinnamon and nutmeg.”- The Chocolate Kiss, Chapter 18
And as the reader turns the last page of Florand’s book, she realizes that through the journey of the senses, she has traveled where her characters have gone, shared in their troubles and cheered for their triumph as well.
To know more about Laura Florand, the books featured in this post and her other works, visit her website, facebook page and goodreads page. Visit also Chachic’s Book Nook and her Amour et Florand page to read more about what others have written about the Laura Florand.