Monday, 26 October 2015

Book Review - The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas by Carole Matthews - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #5

Amazon UK
Title:  The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas
Author: Carole Matthews
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 22nd October 2015
Rating: 3 Stars

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 she's not 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?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas.

The Chocolate Lovers' are back in this all new book, after a very long wait. And that I think was part of my problem initially with the story. It picks up I believe not too far after the end of The Chocolate Lovers' Diet, but in real terms, I think its been at least 7 years since I read the first two books of the series, and that is far too long to expect me to remember the details and personalities of four very different characters. 

And unlike another book I read recently which started with a lovely introduction from the author, complete with very handy reminders of the books that were out only a year or two previous, there was nothing in The Chocolate Lover's Christmas to remind you of anything. As a result I was reading this almost as though I was a new reader to the series, but equally with the back of my mind going, "why can't I remember this" and "do I know this piece of information or not" and all those sorts of thoughts. 

As a result it took me almost the whole book to get into it properly. On the plus side the next Chocolate Lovers' book is out early next year, so I should be able enjoy that a lot more with a shorter gap. 

While I'm on the more negative side of this review, I will also say that I found myself getting confused during the book. The chapters are all really short and as each of them is focused around a different one of the girls, your focus is changing between them at very fast intervals. And due to Autumn and Nadia's very close friendship, I found myself struggling to remember which one was which, and who Lewis belonged to. Also I noticed that Chantal, Autumn and Nadia were told in the 3rd person but yet Lucy was told in the first person. I would have preferred all to be in the same person. 

With all that out of the way, I did enjoy the book, and especially Lucy's story. I loved the descriptions of all the various chocolate treats on offer in Chocolate Heaven, the chocolate cafe she runs, and Lucy is a bit of a disaster zone when it comes to the situations she gets herself into. There is a trip to Belgium that is hilarious, as well as a scene involving Lucy swallowing something she shouldn't have, when a romantic gesture goes wrong. 

Nadia and Autumn are clearly best friends and the closest two members of the club. One often babysits for the other and they are both grieving a family member at the start of the book. During this look at their lives, we see them both slowly get back on their feet and elements of their lives do improve. 

Chantal's daughter Lana is gorgeous and it takes a very strong woman, to extend friendship to the mother of Lana's half sister. Both babies have the same father and are very similar in age, and its a look at how an unusual family situation could be dealt with. 

The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas has a lot of drama, relationship ups and downs, a great sense of humour, a couple of brilliant storylines, and was an entertaining book to read. Just remember to have your own stash of chocolate handy as you will get hungry. 

There really is a lot to like in the book and if you remember the originals or are reading it completely fresh you will probably enjoy it a lot more than I did. If like me you are struggling to recall the first two books (that I know I loved), I would suggest re-reading them before this one to refresh your mind of the story. 

Ultimately although I did enjoy the book, I just felt it wasn't as good as previous Christmas releases by Carole Matthews, nor did it draw me in the way her books normally do. 

Thank you to everyone that voted to make The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas my next book. I had been looking forward to it since I had seen it released, so even if you hadn't made me read it the second it arrived (practically), I would have read it over the weekend regardless, as I had been looking forward to it that much. Just a shame I found it a bit of an anti climax to my excitement.  The vote for this week is already up, so please do take part again. 

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