Four ladies, one chocolate shop: this is the place where secrets are told and calories are consumed.
Chocolate Heaven it seems is the place to hang out. The only requirement is that you have a love for all things chocolate, whether that’s the small delicious bite-size choccies, a dreamy, gooey cake or in liquid form, it seems the main visitors to this delightful little slice of escape in London all have a sweet tooth in common.
Nadia, estranged from her family, lost her husband, Toby, to a gambling addiction just a short time ago and now she is trying to bounce back for their son, Lewis. Physically she may appear to be OK, but mentally she is struggling. Nadia has big bills to pay thanks to the debt Toby racked up but getting a job isn’t easy. During the day she is fine, but when darkness comes she often relives the last time she saw her late husband; when he jumped off the top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas.
Chantal was, not that long ago, a successful career woman, often mixing business with pleasure. That is until Lana came along. Now, this little bundle of joy has taken over her heart and it’s all she can think about. Well, Lana and the other baby Hamilton of the family, Elsie. It seems while both she and her husband had wayward tendencies when away on business, Ted ‘s infidelity led to another child being born at around the same time so he now splits his time between the two. Although he has promised Chantal that he wants to make their marriage work, how will the other woman and Lana’s half-sister fit into their life?
Autumn is struggling to come to terms with her brother’s untimely death. At a time when she should be happily planning her wedding to Addison, all she can focus on is Rich. Grief works in mysterious ways and leads Autumn to feel closer to Nadia than her own fiancé at this time. Perhaps it is because she feels they are dealing with similar feelings; they are tormented by the same thoughts plus, just like Nadia is not talking to her family, Autumn’s parents shipped her off to boarding school as soon as it was deemed acceptable so they aren’t exactly close. To fill the void Autumn has started to look after Lewis for Nadia whenever she needs help but he will shortly be off to school which will leave a gaping hole in her world. The only other worthwhile thing in her life at the moment is her work in drug rehabilitation.
Then there is Lucy, manager of Chocolate Heaven, the meeting place for the Chocolate Lovers’ Club. Ditched at the altar, she is now in a loving relationship once again and while she is often too tired to show Aiden, aka Crush, how much she loves him there is a somewhat spontaneous temptress that occasionally appears. But what has happened to the previous fiancé Marcus? Is he truly over the bride he jilted?
They may all see each other daily for their dose of gossip and chocolate but how well do these girls really know each other? Are they hiding things from even their best friends?
Mostly it seems that they talk about the men in their lives – two-timing Ted, Marcus the wanderer, Crush, the understanding boyfriend who always has dinner on the table and Jacob, the friend that could become so much more. Plus Tarak, the slime-ball brother-in-law, Miles the solo father and Addison, the often-missing fiancé occasionally get a mention.
Marcus, unfortunately, does raise his handsome head once again in a rouse to gain Lucy’s affections, this time planning a working weekend for her in a chocolate lover’s paradise, Bruges.
“… this isn’t just chocolate heaven, this truly is chocolate paradise.”
It does appear that he is trying to make amends for what he did, setting her up in a nice hotel on the canal front, arranging for her to speak at a chocolate conference to help boost her career and gaining tickets for the charity ball taking place the same weekend so that she can network. Is it really that simple though? Can a leopard really change its spots?
“Bruges looks flipping fabulous in its festive garb. The medieval buildings, the narrow streets, the canals are all clothed in a sprinkling of snow…”
Will life work out for all the girls in the chocolate lovers club? Will they get the perfect Christmas they all crave? Or will things all come crashing down around them and leave them hoping for a happier new year?
“At least I have chocolate. That never lets you down.”
My thoughts on The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas
While Lucy, the protagonist in this novel is slightly annoying, with her stupidity and naivety, you can’t help but love this group of mismatches. If they didn’t share a love of chocolate it would be difficult to see how friendships would have formed but, isn’t that always the way. Sometimes the most unconventional friendships turn out to be the strongest, and I believe that’s what Carole Matthews is trying to highlight in her chocolate lovers series.
Without meaning to, I some brought into the characters and willed for it to work out for each of them in the end. I hate clichés but so wanted this to end with one so that my faith in romance could be restored.
Not usually a romance fan, I actually picked this novel up before heading to Bruges on a festive break of my own, and whilst I was disappointed that the city only gained a brief mention, I enjoyed the feel-good story as a deviation from my usual read.
Have you read The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas or any of Carole Matthews Chocolate Lovers’ series? Would you recommend her books to others?