A Wish Upon Jasmine, by Laura Florand

>> Saturday, August 22, 2015

TITLE: A Wish Upon Jasmine
AUTHOR: Laura Florand

COPYRIGHT: 2015
PAGES: 323
PUBLISHER: Self-published

SETTING: Contemporary France
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: Part of the La Vie En Roses series

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 something of his. If he wants to reclaim both his family heritage 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.

Come explore the south of France, a world of heat and fragrance and tales as old as time, through the stories of the five powerful Rosier cousins and the women who win their hearts. A Wish Upon Jasmine, book two in Florand's addictive new series, La Vie en Roses.

Jasmin Bianchi is an extremely successful perfumer, the creator of Spoiled Brat, a scent that has been high in the list of most ordered perfumes for years. It's also a scent that has typecast her, to the point that all the briefs she gets (get me, speaking the lingo!) are for similar superficial, cynical fragrances. When she receives a gift of a small perfume shop in Southern France out of the blue, she sees it as the opportunity to escape the stereotype and decide what she wants to do.

The only problem is, the powerful Rosier family, hugely influential in the world of perfume, consider the shop a crucial part of their ancestry. It might legally belong to their old aunt Colette, but she doesn't have the right to just give it away, even to the descendants of her long-lost adopted son. The obvious person to send out to sort this out is Damien, the merciless money man who has made Rosier SA into a huge, strong business and whose work allows the family's artistic members to do what they do without worry.

But Damien and Jess have a history, a one-night stand some 6 months earlier which ended badly when Jess realised who Damien was and that he'd just taken over the new business venture on which she'd pinned all her hopes for change.

Sigh. It's looking more and more like Florand is just not for me. The annoying thing is that I could have loved this book. Damien was a type of hero I really love: the guy who's been placed by his family in the role of the hard-hearted enforcer, and who's now perceived as being just that in personality as well. Meanwhile, the guy is desperate for some softness and warmth and romance. I felt Damien was very well done in that sense.

And Florand can write a good, angsty scene. There's a stretch round the mid point with Damien and Jess remembering what happened when they first met, the feeling of warmth and trust when they made love, and then Jess's feeling of betrayal when she realised who Damien was, and Damien's desperation when he felt something precious that had been offered to him had been withdrawn. And then when he realises all that had been going on in Jess's life when they first met! Oh, I had such a lump in my throat while I was reading that!

I'd been struggling with the book a bit before I got to that section. There's a lot of clutter here, backstory here that must have been introduced in the previous book in the series. There's all the stuff around the hunt for the long-lost son's descendants and how that got started during the 2nd World War, when Aunt Colette and her brother and the child's birth mother were part of the Resistence. There's pointless matchmaking and a constant stream of happy couples from previous books. There's sequel-baiting with references to characters who have nothing to do with this particular story.

I was getting bored with all of that, and I wasn't too engaged with the romance. I'm getting sort of humourless these days, not willing to buy into the fantasy aspect of how romance heroes behave and seeing it all too literally. Damien's behaviour kept making me go "inappropriate!!!" in my mind, and that was annoying. Plus, the writing. Oh, man, Florand's writing drives me crazy. I find the way she does dialogue almost unbearable. There are looooong bits of internal monologues in between every single bit of reported speech. A bit of that is fine, but this is just way too much. My mind kept wandering away.

And then I got to that lovely, angsty stretch and thought "Oooh, this is getting good!". Well, the second half was a tiny little bit better than the first. There's some interesting stuff about family expectations and beign typecast, and two characters finding out what they want from life and each other and going for it. But it was just much too long and unfocused. Once Damien and Jess had had their confrontation, there really wasn't much conflict there. Florand tried to stretch it out, but their behaviour ended up not really making sense to me. They kept going round and round and it all felt pointless.

And, while Damien mostly made sense to me as a character, Jess did not. Her past is sketchy and doesn't really explain why she is who she is: how she developed such a lack of belief in herself when she's been so incredibly successful in her career, why she's still such a sexual innocent (we get absolutely nothing on her romantic past). It needed more development.

According to amazon, this book is about 320 pages, but I'm pretty sure it's quite a bit longer than that. And it should have been shorter. About a third of it could have gone and it would have improved the book.

MY GRADE: A C+.

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