Chase Me, the second book in Laura Florand’s Paris Nights series, is an unlikely tale of a French chef and the American secret ops/ anti-terrorism agent she catches burgling her kitchens. He is not a burglar, though; he is simply doing his job and hunting for evidence of an impending ricin attack. She threatens him with bodily harm and expert use of knives, which makes him completely besotted with her and determined to have her for himself.
No doubt the name of the book is derived from the single-minded pursuit of the heroine, Vi — a tough-as-nails, confident career woman – by the hero in question, Chase Smith (not his real name, of course). If you like a (lovably) cocky guy chasing the girl of his dreams like a man on a mission, Chase Me should be right up your alley.
Violette Lenoir is a lovely, sharp-tongued woman and suspicious of men in general. Chase on the other hand tends to act like an adorable goofball around her. This leads to some funny moments where Chase’s repeated attempts to woo her are rebuffed:
I’m monogamous now.”
“Since when?” Vi said very, very dryly.
Chase gaped at her. “Since last night! You never listen to a word I say, do you?” He scowled. “If I dismissed everything you said, I’d be taking flack about sexism again.”
The story comes in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, and its aftermath, and looks at the continuing struggle to keep the city (and the world) safe. Florand renders Paris as real and wonderful as ever, and the import of how terrorism affects it hits as hard as ever. The climax to the novel could have been less predictable, but for a short one like this, there really wasn’t room for adding more layers.
Chase Me is a fast read, and at first, this made me wonder whether it was a novella (it is not). There are some places the middle of the book drags a bit, and there are some parts I wish Florand had dwelled on in more detail. There is much less mouthwatering description of culinary dishes here than in Florand’s Chocolat series, which was something of a disappointment really, because Florand is so very good at food porn. Also, not not enough focus is given to Vi’s culinary career; she has worked hard to be a Michelin-starred chef, but there aren’t enough scenes in the book show her in her actual workplace or among her rivals –the “show, not tell” adage does not ring very true for Vi here.
Very few authors can write romances, especially contemporary romances, as well as Florand, and Chase Me hits all the right notes with the witty dialogue and the tender sweet-nothings exchanged between our hero and heroine. One particular moment that stands out is when Chase says to Vi:
“Everything about you has zing, Vi. You make me feel as if I’m going snap-crackle-pop all the time.”
“Except sometimes,” she said. “Sometimes you’re like old pajamas.
Wait, what? “Uh—”
“Like I can be comfortable with you. No matter how tired, or how battered, or how wounded I feel.”
Chase Me is a delightful book, despite the minor foibles I mentioned earlier. It is charming entertainment, and although less intense or dramatic than Florand’s usual fare, is a book that lingers in your memory long after the final page is turned.