She stole his roses.
Fleeing the spotlight, burnt out rock star Layla—“Belle”—Dubois seeks refuge in the south of France. That old, half-forgotten heritage in a valley of roses seems like a good place to soothe a wounded heart. She certainly doesn’t expect the most dangerous threat to her heart to pounce on her as soon as she sets foot on the land.
He wants them back.
Matt didn’t mean to growl at her quite that loudly. But—his roses! She can’t have his roses. Even if she does have all those curls and green eyes and, and, and…what was he growling about again?
Or maybe he just wants her.
When an enemy invades his valley and threatens his home, heart, and livelihood, Matthieu Rosier really knows only one way to defend himself.
It might involve kissing.
And that might be just the start.
Once Upon A Rose is the first book in the La Vie En Roses Series. Here we have two leads who seem to be worlds apart. A famous singer who has traveled far and wide, looking to rediscover her music and a rose harvester, who is deeply rooted to his valley and in his family.
Layla Dubois feels burnt out and would like to find her music again. She feels the pressure to have one more hit, but knows that music should come from the heart, not from the dictations of her producers. So the letter stating she has inherited a house in France was a very welcome reason to travel again and look for her music. Bumping (literally) into Matthieu Rosier, she sees the softness inside his grumpiness. She understands his love for his valley but she hopes she could “borrow” it. “As long as she was going to let him have it back eventually, surely he could survive sharing part of his valet until she remembered how to sing?”
But Matt is deeply rooted to his valley. “J’y suis, j’y reste . I am here and here I’ll stay.” He is, in a way jealous of his cousin’s freedom to roam, but he accepts with his whole heart his responsibility and would not even risk the thought of losing a piece of it. But “When you tighten that fist of yours, it takes something pretty drastic to force it open.” And Layla was that drastic force of change.
Matt is different from the other Florand males. He is not so bossy , and neither does he have the habit of raising his eyebrows. Believe it or not, his charm is in his grumpiness (and persistent uncontrollable blushing). Never have the words “grunting” and “growling” elicit so much smiles from me. And beneath all that grumpiness is a man with a soft heart who, as the next patriarch of the valley, tries his best to assert his authority and keep his valley whole.
As the story progresses, Layla discovers her lost ancestry and realizes that what she needs are roots, to ground her. She finds that in Matt, “Like she should plant her feet against the ground and stand, let her roots sink in. Grow. It was time to grow.” And as Lay finds her roots, Matt learns to to extend his branches. Of course, they fall in love. “His arms stopped folding across his chest. They started folding her in to close it instead.”
But the book isn’t just about Matt and Layla. It is also about the love of family. Laura’s novels often include atleast one core family who “were happy to hit you in the face but always had your back. Even if they were a damn pain in the ass.” There is a strong family structure in the novel, complete with a bossy grandfather, a challenging aunt and of course, the other Rosier cousins. She shows off the other cousin’s personalities as a treat, to watch out for other things to come in the series .
Once Upon A Rose is Laura Florand at one of her best. She fills it with her trademark of beautiful descriptions of valleys and valleys of roses, of old houses and of wonderful, lovable characters. She also adds a bit of history, seasoning the senior characters’ past with the French Resistance and the value of sacrifice. It is about having roots before branches, and being open to change when those branches have the need to reach out. It’s a wonderful first book for the La Vie En Roses series and I cannot wait to read more.
Laura Florand is the international bestselling author of the Amour et Chocolat series (The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, etc). Her books have appeared in ten languages, been nominated for Reviewers Choice Best Book of the Year, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Four of her past five books have been recommended reads by Dear Author and two have been Sizzling Book Club Picks by Smart B*, Trashy Books.
Laura was born in a small town in Georgia, but the travel bug bit her early. After a Fulbright year in Tahiti, a semester in Spain, and backpacking in New Zealand and Greece, she ended up living in Paris, where she met and married her own handsome Frenchman. You can find out quite a bit more about those crazy adventures in her memoir, Blame It on Paris. She is now a lecturer in Romance Studies at Duke University. Contrary to popular opinion, that means she studies and teaches French language and culture, rather than romance. Fortunately, French culture includes French chocolate, research to which she is very dedicated. You can catch some glimpses of that research in the books, on her blog, and on her Facebook site, where you are welcome to join her and other readers!