Rating: 5/5 stars
Genres: Romance, Romantic Comedy, Contemporary, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit
Publication date: September 18, 2018
Death, sex, and chocolate. Throughout history, the three went together. (Ch. 11)
This book was exactly what I look for in a good romance. The characters were complex, the story compelling, and the romance was swoon worthy. I felt drawn into the world, invested in the characters’ happiness. Not to mention the steamy moments sprinkled throughout the book.
Cleare managed to draw me into Sarah’s disastrous romantic past, hoping that she’ll be able to get over her baggage and find someone worthy of her time and energy. While giving most of her attention to chocolate, work, and her amazing son, Sarah tries her darnedest to stay away from men. After all, the men in her life tend to hurt her.
As if hurting her isn’t bad enough, Sarah must also worry about the fact that anyone she lets into her life might also hurt her son, Devon. He’s already been hurt more than enough with a father who hasn’t seen him since the divorce, the last thing Sarah wants to do is bring someone into her life for Devon to grow attached to only for him to leave. Trying to guard both her heart and her son’s, Sarah must slowly come to terms with opening herself up once again to love – and to finding someone who won’t hurt them the way they’ve been hurt before.
This read also had a hint of mystery and intrigue thrown in. While there’s no way for me to go into this without spoiling anything, I do want to say that it was there and I enjoyed every second of it.
If you’re looking for an adorable romance and are a chocolate fiend like Sarah and myself, I’d highly recommend giving this story a try. It’s certainly one of the best romance novels that I’ve read in a while, which is saying something since I’ve picked up quite a few romances over the last little bit. At least, compared to how many I usually read, that is.
P.S. I look forward to trying out the recipes available at the end of the story. As a chocolate fiend, these look divine.
Available on Amazon!
Gail Cleare used to write for newspapers, magazines, ad agencies, Fortune 50 companies and AOL. Now she writes fiction, and lives on an 18th century farm in Massachusetts with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams and wide, windy skies. When she’s not writing Gail is usually working in her organic vegetable garden or stalking wild creatures with a 300mm lens.
Cleare’s debut novel, “Destined, a novel of the Tarot” (2011), was a finalist for a Somerset Award, and for the Green Book Festival and New England Book Festival competitions. The audio book was released in February, 2019.
USA Today Bestseller “The Taste of Air” (2016), is a womens’ fiction family drama, and in 2017 it won Readers’ Favorite awards for both the book and the audio book. It made the USA Today Bestseller list in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It also won the 2019 Kindle Book Award – Romance from the Kindle Book Review. The sequel, “The Scent of Earth, is currently in progress.
“Love & Chocolate, a Romance with Recipes,” is a romantic comedy released in 2018. It features the Dumas family and their restaurant, The Three Chocolatiers.
Maybe chocolate wasn’t really better than sex, but under the circumstances, it was a damn good substitute. (Ch. 1)
I really enjoy the fact that everyone seemed to sense Blake’s intentions before Sarah did. He’d been caught staring by everyone in The Three Chocolatiers and they’d noticed how frequently he’d begun stopping by the moment Sarah showed even the slightest bit of interest in him. Even if she did have a nasty habit of running away.
And, of course, Blake’s brother figured out what was going on before Blake was ready to admit it to anyone. He even got Blake to take care of some chores for him as a sort of bribe to keep quite. After all, Blake was trying to slowly seduce Sarah so as to not spook her. He knew she was skittish when it came to romance and he was willing to put in the work to show her that he truly did care for her.
Even more than that, Blake was willing to put in the work to show Sarah what a decent guy is like around Devon. Having a deadbeat dad, I’d assume that, other than Emile, Devon doesn’t have a good male role model in his life. Right from the beginning Blake showed Devon respect and treated him well. He didn’t try to use Devon as a bargaining chip or act annoyed that the kid was around. He genuinely liked Devon and felt honoured at the end, knowing he’d get to be around Devon as he grew up.
Basically, Blake is the complete antithesis to Jim. He isn’t one to cheat, stalk, or blackmail. He isn’t going to break into your home and steal your valuables just to get back to you. (On that last one, I was extremely proud of Sarah for not suspecting Blake for even a second and withholding his name from the cops. That showed trust and loyalty before she was even aware that she was in love with him.)
While I could tell the stalker was going to be Jim from the clues Cleare left throughout the book, I certainly enjoyed her delivery. Enough was left in the air until the very last second – such as Jim being in town – that it very well could have been someone that found her online. Not HotNCold like she thought, obviously, but the potential was still there. Throw in the food critic that pretended to be an HVAC salesman and it’s clear why Sarah didn’t suspect it was Jim until he showed up in her kitchen.
For a while I thought that maybe the stalker was actually the chef at the country club thanks to a beautiful red herring by Cleare through a conversation Sarah had with Emile, but the moment Carlotta told Sarah that her fiance had ensured the club’s staff wouldn’t get in her way I knew it had to be Jim messing with Sarah.
While her family was certainly protective of her, I’m glad that Sarah ended up finding someone as amazing as Blake. Emile might have warned him against hurting Sarah, he didn’t downright argue against Blake trying to get Sarah back into the dating game. Paisley, on the other hand, gently pushed Sarah towards Blake and his caring nature.
The only real mistake that Blake made while trying to woo Sarah was by pretending to be two separate people and pretending that he didn’t know he was flirting with her both in real life and online. He certainly should have come forward about it way before he did. Sure Sarah managed to forgive him, in large part because he managed to save her from Jim and his blackmail and extortion attempt, but he really did risk losing her for good with that one. If you take anything away from this story for your own dating life, it should probably be that you shouldn’t lie about who you are online just to get someone to like you. Oh, and chocolate can be a powerful aphrodisiac.