The Chocolate Thief is the story of Cade Corey. She’s the heiress of a Hershey's-like chocolate corporation, and she’s very passionate about it. However, as successful as her brand is, no one could ever accuse it of being sophisticated, and Cade dreams with changing that. In order to do so, she travels to Paris to hire Sylvain Marquis, the most famous chocolatier in France and probably even the world. Her plan is to offer him a ton of money to make his name and creations part of the Corey brand. Needless to say, he feels insulted. But she won’t take no for an answer as she will prove over and over again.
If I were to name all the elements that make the book, we would end up with a very compelling list: the heroine is ambitious, hardworking and makes things happen; the hero is French, makes chocolate and has an interesting vulnerability that promises depth; they both come from loving, supportive families, so there’s no angst or daddy/mommy issues; the big misunderstanding takes on the form of a direct confrontation, avoiding clichés and, well, misunderstandings; and the setting and premise are original and very close to the universal idea or romance. The problem is that as good as all the parts sound, the sum of them doesn’t amount to much. When all the pieces come together, the result is a bland, long and boring story.
I found the romance lacking. Cade is driven and self-assured; Sylvain is confident and cocky. They are attracted to each other and ultimately fall in love, but I couldn’t see why. She’s obsessed with what he represents, but that obsession doesn’t get a real transition into love. It was as if she loved the idea of him instead of the actual person, and falling for him was her way of getting his talent by proxy. His attraction was just as hard to believe, considering how she spends most of the story annoying him and unwilling to accept his constant rejection even when he’s rude and insulting. He suffers from that almost supernatural sexual attraction that some heroes seem to get, but his feelings were never that deep.
For a setting that promises so much passion and sensuality, the chemistry between the leads was nowhere to be found. The sensuous imagery is exclusive to the chocolates, but it never reflects on the actual romance, which left me cold. Cade wants Sylvain, but her reaction to his rejection is childish at best. He is equal parts annoyed and aroused by her behavior, so they end up in bed. And to top it all off, the ending negates all the hard work and ambition that Cade had throughout the book.
And honestly, the book is too long. Granted, long means nothing when you’re enjoying a story, but it means a lot when the romance is flat and the story only has a superficial conflict used for comedy and little else.
Ms. Florand is talented and has great ideas, but unfortunately her books fail to engage me. Also, I don’t even like chocolate that much.
Review by Brie
The Parisian sorcerer of artisan chocolate, handsome Frenchman Sylvain Marquis, and the American empress of chocolate bars, Cade Corey, play a decadent game of seduction and subterfuge that causes them both to melt with desire.The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
Kensington. July 1, 2012.