by Laura Florand
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Ruthless. That was what they said about Damien Rosier. Handsome. Wealthy. Powerful. Merciless. No one messed with his family, because to do so they would have to get through him. No one thought he had a heart. Not even the woman he gave his to.
Cynical. That was what they said about Jasmin Bianchi. A top perfumer of her generation, Jess had achieved commercial success by growing a protective shell over a tender heart. The one time she cracked it open to let Damien in, he crushed it—after a night of unbelievable passion.
Lovers. That one magical night couldn’t survive the harsh light of dawn. When Jess woke up to discover the man in bed beside her had stolen her company, she fled.
Enemies. Now she’s come to the south of France with a threat to his family heritage. If he wants to reclaim both it and the woman who walked away from him, he’s going to have to fight as dirty as only Damien can.
But Jess knows how to fight dirty, too. And these days, she has nothing left to lose.
Certainly not her heart.
“And then his gut clenched around the reality. God knew what perfume she’d make to represent him. Something mean. Machiavellian. Some masculine variant of Spoiled Brat, maybe. Maybe she’d call it Assassin.”
Sigh. I don’t know what it is with these books that makes me smile so big while hiding my face in shame. Predictable. Instalov-well, kind of. Certainly cheesy… I’m not supposed to like this, dammit!
And yet… It works just fine. What am I saying? It works damn great.
As far as French male leads are concerned, I’ll take these ones. Not the romantic world fantasy but a great deal of flaws, a brush of adorable, family members who can’t mind their own business and the ability to say fuck you when they’re upset, even if they blush and apologize immediately after because oh, shit, that’s not how they’ve been raised, but come on, why did you
for the mother of god stop talking please. You want to know a stereotype which is often true when it comes to French?
We loooooooooooooove talking. Almost as much as we love arguing. And of course we’re always right. Duh.
But moving on. In those French male leads I can believe. I may love them, even, because there’s no such thing as a prince and franchement? I don’t want one, and neither does Jasmin, in the end. Add an heroine I can root for (strong despite her insecurities – believably flawed, let’s say) and you get a happy Anna. This being said, I can see readers being annoyed by her lack of self-esteem concerning relationships : it didn’t bother me too much because Damien doesn’t take advantage of them and has more than his fair share of insecurities too, but it did grit on my nerves at some point.
If I barely know Grasse, the city where the story takes place (and by barely I mean that I might have come visit 20 years ago, with my parents, but probably focused on ice-cream or something), I can safely say that the way life is described is rather believable and I sympathized with Jasmin who arrives from New York and is quite unsettled by people’s reactions. Look, I’m a former Parisian who lives in the South. In the country. Did I fall in love with the calm and the beautiful landscapes? Of course. Do I enjoy living there? Yes. Do I start bouncing around people sometimes because please can we get started for fuck sake? Hmm-hmm. Do I want to shake people each time someone tells me “that’s the way things have always been”? Hell yes. I can’t even imagine how disturbing it must be to arrive from New York.
The Rosier’s family can be upsetting at first but… Strip off the growls, and you’ll find such endearing characters! I love them all.
Having said all that, I loved that the plot was centered around the perfume business because first of all that’s not something I often see and moreover the issues dealt with were sadly realistic : it is difficult for these little cities to survive now that every company must be worldwide, and local handicraft like perfumery in Grasse suffers a lot from the lack of competitiveness. In that regard, Damien’s struggles appeared authentic to me and allowed me a better understanding of his – sometimes ruthless – behavior.
► GOOD. Indeed it contains the right amount of cheesiness to stay on the adorable side of my scale and the interactions made me smile more often than not. I do have a soft spot for brotherly banter and old scheming grandparents (Pépé and Tante Colette are fantastic).
“And then, just like that, there were four male bodies wrestling. “If any of you end up needing the hospital, I expect you to drive yourself,” Tata Véro said, flipping a page. “I’m retired.” She winced a little at a particular thudding sound, peeked at her son in the mass, and then looked immediately back at the photo album.”
► What about my romance peeves?
✘ No girl hate but women who are open to friendship
✘ No asshole as a male-lead but a believable flawed hero who can be a jerk but also damn sweet
✘ No instalove in the book, but our couple did suffer from this weird disease when they first met (they fought after. I forgive them)
So, all in all, what this book offered me were several hours of smiles and escape. Maybe it will be the same for you, but frankly? I can’t say at this point. I guess you’ll have to try it to know^^.