Author: Laura Florand
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
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.
I’m such a slow reader. I’m so jealous of my friends who can read a book in one sitting and gush about it in a couple of hours, while I’m still 20 % in. It’s not even that English is not my first language, because I read slowly in Russian too. So you can imagine my horror when I realized (while reading Once Upon a Rose) that my reading pace dropped even more. What’s happened? I blame it all on Laura Florand. Her writing is gorgeous, and I kept rereading sentences and whole paragraphs.
Laura Florand’s writing is sensual and, I don’t know, kinesthetic… When she wrote about a scent, I felt it; when she described a texture, it was like I run my fingers through it. It’s amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where my senses were so involved. I feel so inadequate trying to put it into words; I’ll just give you example of this beauty:
“The scent of roses reached her from his hand, mixed with the apples of her shampoo, and she closed her eyes against a wave of hunger. It didn’t help. Closing her eyes meant that all she could do was feel—his hand shifting in her hair, his breath brushing over her lips, the cool shade of the street after the sun of the fields, and the press of a knocker against her back. The silence of the stone seemed to hold her safe in it. A gentle echo sounded of someone walking down another cobblestone street below. She wanted him to talk again, into her darkness.”
I think Laura Florand’s writing is perfect for audiobooks. I want to listen one of her books in audio. Audio format gives readers opportunity to appreciate beautiful words more.
I don’t easily give a spot on my “awesome hero” shelf, but Matt definitely goes there. I fell in love with this big and growling man, who is such a sweetie inside. Aaaaand he is blushing! I have a soft spot for blushing heroes.
“That smile she sometimes had for him made him feel so confusedly and vulnerably happy, as if he was a teddy-bear she was about to pick up and squeeze. He had never in his life felt very squeezable before.”
Also it was such a treat to meet Matt’s big family. His grandfather, Tante Colette, aunts and uncles, and of course his cousins (I hope each of them will get his own book in future). To have so many relatives, many of them in the same area and this big heritage. Nowadays people know grandparents, great grandparents, but how many of us can trace their family back to the Renaissance?
I loved Matt’s relationship with his cousins. There were four of them present, each of them with his own distinct personality and story to tell. It’s obvious they all love each other and have each other backs despite competitive nature of their relationship. Their teasing of Matt was so endearing.
The romance… What can I tell? I swooned. It was sensual, beautifully-written and it pleased romantic it me.
I have to mention the setting. Laura Florand pictured Provence so vividly; it was like I was transported there, like I walked with Layla on these old narrow beautiful streets, like I was looking on rose fields. Laura Florand definitely made me want to visit these places.
Why didn’t I give this book 5 Stars? The same reason – Laura Florand’s writing style. Have you ever been in perfume shop? You want to buy a perfume, you walk in, and there are all these scents around you. And while one perfect scent is a pleasure for your senses, when you are bombarded by all of them at once, you get overloaded. So you need to get out for fresh air, or you’ll have a headache. I’m not sure I make any sense here, but this is how I felt while reading Once Upon Rose. There were actually a couple of times when I had to put the book aside for a while because I was overwhelmed.
All in all Once Upon a Rose was a heartfelt beautiful story, which left me with warm feelings. I was told that this is one of lightest books by Laura Florand and her other novels are more emotional and heavy, which of course don’t stop me at all, I’m looking forward to my next book by this author.