Better Than Chocolate

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Title: Better Than Chocolate
Author: Sheila Roberts
Series: Life in Icicle Falls
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Published: September 25, 2012
Pages: 400

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The Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed her first recipe. However, now it looks like the business is about to be forfeited to the bank due to a loan that they can’t pay. To lose this business spells disaster for not only the Sterling family but also the economy of Icicle Falls, Washington. It’s now Samantha Sterling’s job to keep he family business and reverse the massive damage her step-father created.

Blake Preston is the bank manager in charge of the loan and is being forced to call in the loan if they can’t pay up in a few months. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t help her try and pull off this chocolate festival, despite the fact that she believes that he is the enemy and his allergy to chocolate. He feels an attraction for her but feels that unless time was reversed and he worked anywhere but the bank, the relationship would never even come to be. But he’s going to try. His main goal is to help Samantha keep her business and make her see that he’s not the enemy.

As the chocolate festival dates gets closer, events out of their control make it seem like the festival won’t even take place and all their hard work will be for nothing. Samantha and her family scramble to make this festival a success, but as the date looms people start to doubt and wonder what will happen to their tiny town if they fail. Not to mention the romances and attractions plaguing the sisters threaten to take their sanity and peace of mind as well as a broken heart in the end.

Will Samantha and her family be able to keep their business or will generations of chocolatiers be for nothing? Will Blake be able to convince Samantha that he’s on her side or will she go to her grave thinking he’s trying to sabotage her life? Will Blake and Samantha become a couple or will their attraction stay unfulfilled? Will their attraction fizzle out or grow stronger the longer they’re together?
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Being a Harlequin novel, I expected a certain level of passion and romance but I found myself constantly waiting for the romance to begin and it didn’t really. The book wasn’t bad, just disappointing. I feel like the author’s talents would be put to better use as a drama author instead of trying to force a romance that didn’t feel natural. However, the idea for this book was fantastic, two enemies fall in love, but I feel like it takes a special author to execute a plot that seems like an author’s nightmare. Having never read anything from this author I don’t know if this is an accurate portrayal of her writing skill, so I’ll leave that up to people have read more from her.

The family portion of this book, as well as the business saving part, was amazing. The author knows how sister’s work and her portrayal of the family dynamic is accurate, though a little extreme in my opinion, but shows how families interact with each other. This author knows how to work a story that involves everyone working together to solve a problem, as well. She painted the picturesque little tourist town where everyone works together and it almost makes me want to find my own Icicle Falls.

There were even touches of faith scattered throughout the book, which I didn’t expect to find and was gladly surprised. However, like most books similar to this, it fizzled out after a few pages and the mentions of church and prayer from the main characters, didn’t stick in the end. In fact, it seemed like the author wanted to bring her faith or a faith into the book and then either forgot to include it after a while or didn’t want to put too much of it in. Though I pleasantly surprised to see parts of faith brought into the book, it disappointed me that it wasn’t really enough to make an impression on the characters or the reader.

The author works well with description though; she describes Icicle Falls amazingly as well as the surrounding areas. I could picture the tiny town and actually wanted to visit during their chocolate festival, too bad it doesn’t exist. The author also made me want to run or at least work at a chocolate factory, because, honestly, what could be better than chocolate? She also includes a few recipes from the book, for chocolate or chocolate related food items that I fully intend to try out at some point in the future. That made the book just a little bit more real and made me a little more disappointed that Sweet Dreams Chocolate didn’t exist.

I don’t know if this book is a good representation of this author’s abilities in the romance department, but I do know that if you’re looking for a story of family and perseverance than this book is definitely for you. I don’t know if I’ll read more from this author due to the lack of romance, but I do want to see if her other books are more romancey or just as disappointing as this one.

Overall, this book was a disappointing romance but a great story of family and perseverance. This book is perfect who like romance but prefer a book that doesn’t revolve around it. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Christian Manifesto. All opinions expressed are my own.*

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