Life sang from the old stones, and he couldn't remember the last time it had done that for him. The last time those thousand-year-old walls had played a thousand years of hope to him and not a thousand years of expectations.
Perhaps, this is an emotional rating, but as I was trying to decide on rating this 4 stars or 5 I had a thought. I wondered does a romance have to be complicated. Once Upon a Rose is incredibly romantic and scenic too! It makes one want to book a flight to the south of France, absorb the culture, admire the architecture, and imagine falling in love. Le sigh.
Two people are brought together - one an indie singer and the other a proud man with a huge legacy attached to his broad shoulders. There's almost a magical fated quality to their union, as if their paths, whether fixed or unsteady, are meant to cross. I swallowed their magic as if it was heavenly chocolate; inhaled the rose-scented pages as if I could never get enough. Mmmm.
Once Upon a Rose feels real. One of the hardest and unnerving parts of starting a relationship is making oneself vulnerable. The hero, Matthieu, is a big growly bear who was once burned by a selfish woman. The closer one gets to his heart the more he growls...or blushes! Layla, the heroine, is an insightful woman. She understands Matt from the get-go. She treasures his roses. Matt inspires her!
This story is so gently and gratifyingly nuanced any romantic heart would love it! This is my first Laura Florand book. It won't be my last. I've already read "A Rose in Winter," which can be found in the anthology No Place Like Home. It's Raoul & Allegra's story, who are also secondary characters in Once Upon a Rose. If you read the novella you'll see Tante Collette's role in her nephews' lives and hear her poignant WWII stories about the Résistance.
Other readers have told me that Florand's Chocolate series is even better. Really?!!! This author's love of France is obvious and her other series is set in Paris. Hmm. I can smell the roses and feel the characters hearts beat, so I guess I'll have to try her chocolate too! Oh, and next up is Tristan in the La Vie en Roses. Watching him fall in love will be such a treat! (You can see one of his quotes in a status update. Do it! He's funny!)