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Nina Harrington

REVIEW:  When Chocolate is Not Enough … by Nina Harrington

REVIEW: When Chocolate is Not Enough … by Nina Harrington

Dear Ms. Harrington,

Chocolate seems to be the new “thing” in romance books. And here we have luscious, organic, single estate, premo, “to die for” chocolate. Chocolate that makes chocolatiers swoon with delight and weep with envy – if they don’t have access to it. We also have a hero convinced of the wonder of his chocolate and a heroine he needs to convince of same.

“A shared passion for…chocolate!

One taste of Daisy Flynn’s delicious confectionery and Max Treveleyn is hooked! This quirky chocolatier is just the person to showcase the cocoa from his plantation.

Daisy jumps on the idea–she’s always dreamed of having her own chocolate shop, and with Max’s offer, that dream can become a reality. But Daisy finds sexy single dad Max very distracting!

Keeping focused on work isn’t easy. But Daisy has learned the hard way that she’s safer indulging in chocolate than in relationships. She mustn’t be tempted by something even sweeter….”

Max is like an enthusiastic 1 year old Golden Retriever about his chocolate. Which he needs to be after the slightly snotty way he talks to the heroine before he knows who she is and how she and her desserts could help him. He names and then talks to Delores – the fancy-dancy chocolate mixing machine he bought – though reading the instruction manual first might help. Typical man! But he’s also a long distance father worried that his little girl is already slipping away from him way before her teenage due date. He and former wife Catherine Ormandy (how posh is that name!) have a good relationship – what a relief – and both want the best for their little girl.

when-chocolate-is-not-enoughDaisy has been burned before by love – and chocolate? – before but she strains to keep her business head on and focused on her goal. Not only is she a trained chocolate chef but also a Parisian trained chocolatier. I’m learning how important training like this is and the difference it makes to the finished product. But I’m sure further taste testing wouldn’t hurt me. I laughed out loud at the naughty chocolate she and her friend sell though the descriptions of the different flavors they have for sale tempted me through the pages. Mocha chocolate boobs, yum! I appreciate Daisy’s dedication to her craft and her determination to see her name on frou-frou boxes holding her carefully and delectably made desserts.

Despite fleshed-out backgrounds for them, the action stays fairly focused on Daisy and Max though they have others in their lives. Max’s daughter is used to the idea of her mother remarrying so there aren’t tantrums about her Daddy’s new love. Plus there is a breathing space of months built in between the “get a room” display of kissing at the convention they attend to display and introduce Max’s chocolate and Daisy’s skill and the actual wedding.

One thing I’m looking for in my books lately is a concrete reason for any separation and trying to avoid falling in love. Daisy and Max both came from broken relationships and her dream is her own line of artisan chocolate stores while his passion has always been the cocoa plantation that he loves and swore to keep going due as his duty to the employees. There’s no way to get them over their skittishness about a relationship even if they were on the same side of the world. Or is there?

Both have survived past romantic relationships that hurt them. Max’s marriage dissolved over his commitment to his work and Daisy got used and conned by a man she thought loved her. But – when the attraction they both feel won’t go away no matter how smart they try to be about it – they are both smart enough to realize that they’ve had the bad and that this current feeling isn’t that. It’s different. It’s really love. I was happy to see them decide to go for it and not pad the book out with displays of “Oh, I won’t ever fall in love again, damn it!” Then Max gives one of the best “I believe in you/love you” pep talks recorded on a modern mobile. I really like Max.

So now that they admit they’re in love – what to do? Grow into what they really want instead of dreams that others had and that Max and Daisy have taken over. Daisy realizes that in ways, the dream she thought she had might not be what she truly wants in her life and perhaps some of it was for “I’ll show you who can make the best chocolate” revenge. Max came to the conclusion that having his plantation be profitable would require rethinking his strategy and taking advantage of new options – which would also work to Daisy’s benefit as well. Smart heroes and heroines – I love ‘em.

Brought together by chocolate. Staying together for lurve. B

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REVIEW: Always the Bridesmaid by Nina Harrington

REVIEW: Always the Bridesmaid by Nina Harrington

Dear Ms. Harrington,

This is the second charming book I’ve read of yours I’ve read. The CEO hero isn’t a cad or bounder, the baker heroine is dedicated to what she does – and I’d love to try her strudel, the action is short, sweet and to the point and I had a good time reading it, thank you very much.

Always the Bridesmaid Nina HarringtonAmy Edler is a busy woman, running her own bakery and doing most of the work herself. But when her best friend’s wedding planner does a runner a week before the big day, she finds herself picking up the pieces and in charge of not only making the wedding cake but also making sure everything comes off without a hitch.

Okay so she’s not totally in charge as Jared Shaw, the entrepreneur brother of the bride, is pitching in too. As these two tick off the important details they find themselves together – a lot. And with love and wedding mania in the air, they start to look at each other – also a lot. Will romance strike and lead to another trip by a Shaw sibling down the aisle?

Amy is a strong woman who – though with PTSD from her life changing injury – has remade her career into her childhood dream. She’s working hard, living the dream, proud of what she does and also has a fun, spritely sense of humor. I love how she zings Jared at times and can also make a joke at her own expense as well as laugh with anyone. She thinks about others, cares about her friends and can roll a mean piece of bread dough. Never mess with a woman who kneads her own dough cause she can probably deck ya. She does seem to have trouble saying “no” though I admire her willingness to pitch in where needed.

Jared is driven by his past and how hard he had to work to show those who thought he’d amount to nothing more than his con man father. He also had to be the man of the house at 14 which is a tough road to hoe. He remembers the bad times and won’t let them happen again. His sister’s wedding will go off on schedule even if Amy has to be pregnant with 2 pillows to get them to the front of the line of frantic brides to get the info from the Runaway Bride planner’s office. I like how Jared keeps his past in mind but still doesn’t let it rule his life or get bogged down in angst over it.

Jared never looked to find the love of his life but when he realizes the wonderful woman in front of him – and you have made her a wonderful woman – he steps right up and decisively goes after her. But nicely. Nicely is nice. Lucy the Bride makes a lot of demands on her peeps but at least she doesn’t turn Bridezilla.

There’s lots o’ stuff crammed into the week before the wedding – it makes me almost tired just to read it -and I have to say that by the end, when thing after thing was being piled on top of things already there, I did wonder – what else could go wrong? The last event is something I’ve not seen used to finally bring a hero and his heroine to their romantic senses about how much they love each other and to stop being foolish. Who’d have thought I’d read a HEA through plumbing?

I love how Jared asks Amy to let him in her life by helping realize her dream. Aaaaahhhh. How many men can say they really know what their sweetheart’s dream is and be ready to make that happen? The final bit of last chapter + the epilogue wind things up with our two lovebirds planning to stay in one country on one side of the Atlantic with Amy’s dream in progress and the chance for Jared to pull his hair out making kids happy. Another big aaaahhh but without getting sappy.

This is a funny, happy book which doesn’t solve world hunger but does entertain delightfully. I breezed through it, enjoyed the two leads and am glad that through eharlequin, I can catch up on not only what you’re writing now but your backlist as well. B


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