Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Guest Review: The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

The snow is falling, the hot chocolate’s warming, and hearts are melting . . .
Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites.
From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.
With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.
The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart?

Review: Although I have not yet read any other novels from Caroline Roberts, I was drawn to this one just by its very title and the promise of a lovely warming Christmas tale. It also turned out that the chocolate shop in question was set in a seaside village and additionally housed a very cute spaniel - well, that clinched it. I would admit that the story itself did not grab me immediately, but once I got my teeth into it, I finished it off quickly, as I would have done many of the sweet treats described within its covers. 

The story centres around Emma, who owns the Chocolate Shop by the Sea, set in the Northumberland coastal village of Warkton-by-the-Sea. She had moved to the village, with its little harbour and long beach, seven years previously following a tragic and heartbreaking event in her life. A total change in location and career had been just what she needed at that time. We meet a few of the villagers who have welcomed her into the community, including best friend Bev and her husband, Pete, and Holly, who helps out in the shop after school and on Saturdays. Although the shop is doing well enough with the local customers, the decision by the landlord to increase the rent brings Emma financial worries and the possibility of losing her beloved shop and cottage. However, a chance encounter with a stranger on a windy Boxing Day walk along the beach with her dog, Alfie, introduces an element of mystery and the chance of romance. 

This was a charming story, beginning and ending at Christmas time, and following the characters for the year in between. As you might imagine from the title, there was a lot of chocolates being made, sold and eaten. The author has clearly done lots of research into the whole chocolate making process and how to make the various types of filling for truffles etc. They all sound delicious, so I certainly wouldn't recommend this book to anyone embarking on a post-Christmas diet. For anyone fancying giving the procedure a try, a couple of mouth-watering recipes are included at the end of the story. I did find the story a little slow to get going, but I enjoyed it overall. The setting was very well described, and there were some interesting characters, typical of those that you can find in any small village. It was also intriguing following Emma's plans to increase her turnover and improve her chances of saving the business. She certainly worked hard and deserved to succeed. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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