Chocolate wishes – Trisha Ashley

Chloe Lyon makes chocolate wishes, little chocolate shapes with an angelic message inside. Chloe’s life has always been influenced by magic. Her grandfather (known as Grumps) is a warlock who writes lurid Dennis Wheatley-type novels; her grandmother was a gypsy & Zillah, Granny’s cousin, lives with the family, which also includes Chloe’s half-brother, Jake. Their mother flitted just after Jake was born. She may be dead or just enjoying life with another of her unsuitable boyfriends. Chloe left university & broke up with her first love, Raffy Sinclair, around this time & she brought Jake up, rightly thinking he needed more stability than her grandfather & Zillah would provide. Chloe’s now in her mid 30s, her business is going well, she has two close friends, Poppy & Felix, but there’s been no man in her life since she broke off her engagement with dreadful yuppie David years before. Grumps decides to move the family to Sticklepond, a village near Winter’s End, a stately home that featured in an earlier novel by Ashley, A Winter’s Tale. The house he buys was once a doll’s hospital, so there’s plenty of room for Chloe to have her own separate home with room for her confectionery business & the potential for a lovely garden. Jake’s about to start university & Chloe looks settled for a happy if low-key life. Then, Raffy Sinclair turns up – as the new vicar. Chloe & Raffy broke up because his band, Mortal Ruin, had been offered a chance at fame & he wanted her to go with him. Misunderstandings & a treacherous friend meant that they both believed that the other hadn’t cared enough to try to reconcile. So, Chloe has spent years crying at Raffy’s songs on the radio & Raffy (not knowing about her mother & Jake) believes she didn’t love him enough to change her mind. Mortal Ruin came to a natural end & Raffy found a vocation for the Church. Now they’re living in the same village with a lot of catching up to do. I really enjoy Trisha Ashley’s books. Her heroines are usually a little older than most chick lit girls & they often have foodie careers which I enjoy reading about. She writes well about village life & the romance is gentle but sweet. There wasn’t as much romance in Chocolate Wishes as usual & Raffy was quite a low-key hero. More Edmund Bertram than Frederick Wentworth (not that I’m putting Ashley in the same class as Austen but if you read Austen, you’ll understand what I mean about the different types of hero). But, I enjoyed Chloe’s family & her friends, Felix & Poppy, both with mad mothers & emotional problems of their own to work through. There are a lot of subplots in the book & I do feel this distracted attention from the romance but it was a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. The book does come with a warning though. You will probably feel compelled to eat chocolate while reading it. The descriptions of Chloe’s chocolate-making are scrumptious (recipes are included) & I not only ate chocolate but made chocolate cupcakes as well, so, be warned.

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