Sunday, 20 December 2015

Little Northern Christmas: Book Review - The Chocolate Lover's Christmas by Carole Matthews

"Christmas is just around the corner, but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping …

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn't spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated! Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. will he be her last chance for a happy ending? Chantal and her husband, Ted , are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but Chantal isn’t sure that’s enough to base a marriage on. Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?"

The Chocolate Lover's Christmas is a follow on from Carole's hugely successful books, The Chocolate Lovers Club and The Chocolate Lover's Diet. Now, although I've read a few of Carole Matthew's books (and really enjoyed them) I hadn't read these two, so I was a newcomer to the Chocolate Lover's Club... and boy am I glad I've finally found them! 

The Chocolate Lover's Christmas perfectly combines some fantastic story elements - chocolate, friendship & Christmas. It's pages of festive perfection snuggled in-between a beautiful cover. 

You don't need to have read the first two books in the series to be able to follow and understand whats happening in The Chocolate Lover's Christmas. Carole makes sure that the character's situations are explained as they are introduced, either to inform new readers (like me) or remind returning readers. 

The story follows the members of The Chocolate Lover's Club - Lucy, Nadia, Chantal & Autumn as they go through different challenges and events. I am a big fan of stories that are focussed on more than one character viewpoint, so this ticked the boxes for me. The story is told from the first person view for Lucy, but in the third person for the other characters. For the first few chapters this confused me slightly, but after a while I got used to this format and actually, really liked it. It was a different way to tell a multiple-character story, and I think it worked well. I will also mention here that I did occasionally get a little mixed up between Nadia, Chantal & Autumn as four characters, all with very busy lives, is quite a lot to keep up with and occasionally I'd begin a chapter thinking they were someone else, but after a few sentences I was quickly reminded of who's who and immersed myself in their stories. 

My favourite character was definitely Lucy. I don't know if it's because we're told her story from her point of view, or because I feel we get to know her slightly better than the others, but she was brilliant. Slightly ditzy, bubbly and immensely positive she was a character that you just immediately warmed to and rooted for. I loved hearing about her working in Chocolate Heaven (which I'll get to in a minute) and really felt for her when some of her 'big ideas' didn't quite go to plan. (I won't spoil it, but there was one scene with chocolate body paint that had me laughing out loud.) When her slimy ex-boyfriend makes a reappearance, I hoped she'd not fall for his ways and remain happy with her new boyfriend (nicknamed 'crush').  There were times I felt like shouting to her to not fall for his tricks - she's too trusting, and a little naive, for her own good. 

Now, I don't feel I can write this review without talking about Chocolate Heaven, the cafe that is at the centre of the story. It's where the women mainly get together, and plays a big part in all of their lives. The cafe itself sounds absolutely amazing, and I'm gutted that it doesn't actually exist anywhere near me (although, maybe that's a good thing for my waistline!) as it is filled with delicious sounding chocolatey treats. Think your usual cafe and then add LOTS of chocolate to the sweet treats and drinks on offer. Amazing. You can see why the women love it so much, and why Lucy is in her element working there, and it had my stomach rumbling on more than one occasion. These women sure can eat chocolate, I think in every chapter they were tucking into a different treat, but it is the driving force of the story and I loved it. 

Towards the end, they celebrate Christmas and they spend it in the most perfect way - in a remote, beautiful village in an amazing cottage, all together with plenty of drink & food (and chocolate, of course). It was a lovely way to bring the Christmassy element to the story, and had me reaching for a tin of Quality Street to feel like I was there with them. 

The Chocolate Lover's Christmas is a lovely, lovely read. It's got plenty of great characters, a fantastic sounding cafe, and lots and lots of chocolate. I mean, do you need anything else?! If you're wanting to cosy up with a good book in the run-up to Christmas, this is the one for you. It's guaranteed to pull you in and keep you thinking about it, as well as making your stomach rumble for some delicious sounding chocolate. This is one of those stories that leaves you with a happy, content feeling when you put it down and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 


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