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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

~Jayne
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What Jayne’s Been Reading and Watching Recently

What Jayne’s Been Reading and Watching Recently

Most books that I finish get their own reviews but here are some that either I didn’t finish or I didn’t think warranted a separate review.

The Terrorist – Caroline Cooney / Fabulous writing. Intense, page turning, I was 50 pages into it before I even realized it when I finally came up for air. In this YA book, young Billy, who died from a terrorist bomb in London, is made memorable, in fact so memorable, that he seemed that way for a long time. As long as his family will miss him terribly, I suspect. They are stunned, disbelieving, in denial and full of rage. This leaps off the page as does his older sister Laura’s rage and determination to find the people who killed her brother. This is a powerful evocation of grief and loss and revenge. I’ve reviewed another Cooney book here that has romantic elements. B

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Mistletoe Kisses with the Billionaire – Shirley Jump / Confined by all the category conventions. I kept reading because there was one big difference and that is that the hero is the one who came back to the little town first and who seems like he’s more likely to stay. He’s the conscientious one to the heroine’s “I gotta get out of this place” persona which is the reverse of what I’m used to seeing but it’s still not enough to overcome every small town convention and a matchmaking grandmother. Sorry but I bailed at the 1/3 mark.

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Brooklyn Love – Yael Levy / 4 women who are followed through the ups and downs of searching for love and marriage in the world of Orthodox Jews in NYC. It expanded this world for me which is what I look for in new-to-me settings and situations. However, the ultimate fate of two out of the four women is – to say the least – a major downer. One finds happiness in her unexpected marriage, one looks to have found her Mr. Right, but the minute a scandal hits his family, one immediately tosses in the towel on the man she was all set to upend convention in order to marry and the last woman appears to be headed for a life of married living hell based on what we’ve seen of her fiance. Wow, way to end the story. D

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The Nabob’s Widow – Elsie Lee / When Elsie Lee’s name is mentioned, voices intone in hushed or squeeing reverence, “The Nabob’s Widow!!” Comments to a post here continued this tradition and I decided to finally readit and find out for myself how good it is. With that decision made, I headed to a couple of online USBs I have bookmarked and, taking a deep breath, began the search. I found a used paperback copy in pretty good shape for a price that didn’t make me wince too badly and clicked my way to a purchase. It arrived and I sat, reverently gazing at this Holy Grail of trad regencies. I hoped it would do for me what it appears to have done for so many others – turn me into one of those bouncing, happy readers who gush whenever the book is mentioned. Alas, the book falls into the category of “would have liked it better years ago.” Reading it now…I think my high expectations might have had a hand in why the 1/3 of this book that I managed to slog through did almost nothing for me.

I wanted to slap Dianthe. She’s like a pint-sized Mary Poppins – too perfect. Plus – call me a prude – but when I read a trad regency from the mid 1970s, I don’t expect to see the word c*nt used. Also, the Christmas celebration – complete with tree (which I thought wasn’t an English custom until after Prince Albert arrives in the early 1840s) is a minor annoyance. But what’s really the sand in my Vaseline is the fact that the hero’s sister’s son is mentioned – several times – as being the hero’s heir. Is his title one that can be held suo jure? Oh, and the cats. I’m a cat person, I grew up with Siamese but it didn’t take me long before I was sick of ‘em. I stopped at this point and conferred with Sunita who said it was doubtful that soldiering on would change my opinion much. With that I decided that I have too many other books to continue to waste my time and raise my blood pressure.

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The Duchess War / Courtney Milan – Since I’d never read any of her books and she’s such a favorite among my fellow reviewers, I figured I’d better get with the program. I started this book and immediately felt as if I’d been dropped into the ocean with no life preserver and the waves were crashing over me. Nevertheless, the set up for the hero and heroine to be pushed together was original and kept me going. Until I hit the scene where the heroine is urging her best friend to marry the cad who was looking into Minnie’s past just because Lydia needed to marry. This after Minnie spouted off statistics to Robert, the hero, about the percentage of unwed women in England and how she needed to marry. How depressing. The hero is an odd duck too spouting off information about political agitation in Leicester to an out of work worker’s organizer. WTF? I don’t mind nuggets of information but don’t just drop them in the story with a clunk. And all the SECRETS and mysteries and the “club” of left handed future heroes…. Sorry but I have too many other books to try and too little time already. DNF

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*****

A few things I watched recently:

Garrow’s Law and City of Vice are both UK productions set during the 18th century that explore historical personages and institutions. I knew almost nothing of 18th century English barrister William Garrow before starting this series but watching justice be meted out – or not – in cases based on actual ones in which he was involved is fascinating. I can certainly say that the juries are out for a whole lot shorter amount of time than the case I sat on. City of Vice tells the story of how the Bow Street Runners were founded by the Fielding Brothers in an effort to stamp out the rampant crime afflicting London. It is also supposed to be based on actual crimes and cases. Most of the crimes dealt with in both series seem to center on sex and violence so these are not series I would recommend if you’re looking for placid village cozies.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Werner Herzog takes us to the Chauvet Cave in France where some of the oldest cave paintings in human history were found. The documentary goes slightly off the rails when he attempts to wax rhapsodical about philosophy and “what ifs” but this wonderful glimpse of the beautiful images there is well worth sitting through that.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi – another documentary here. Do you like sushi? Watch this to see a master at his craft as he perfects the product he and his staff offer at his restaurant in Tokyo.

Top Secret Rosies: Female “Computers” of WWII – Here is the story of some unsung heroines of WWII who used their brains and mathematical skills to help win the war.

Ken Burns – Prohibition – Burns’ documentaries are hit or miss with me. I enjoyed this one though I could have done with fewer images of barrels of booze and beer being bashed. The recollections of those who lived through it are the best part.