Book Review: Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts

 Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts

 Paperback

 Review copy provided by DMCPR Media

 Harlequin Mira, October 2012

 Synopsis- Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations, ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed up her first fabulous recipe. But now it looks as if they’re about to lose Sweet Dreams to the bank—and that would be a disaster, not only for the family but for the town of Icicle Falls, Washington. Can Samantha, the oldest daughter and new head of the company, come up with a way to save it?After Samantha does some brainstorming with her mother and sisters, inspiration strikes. They’ll have a chocolate festival! Time’s running out, but the Sterling women are determined and the town’s behind them, so everything’s bound to go smoothly….

Or not. Events seem to be conspiring against Samantha, and her mother’s attempts to help aren’t helping. To make matters worse, the fate of her company is in the hands of her archenemy, Blake Preston, the bank manager with the football-hero good looks. It’s enough to drive her to chocolate. But Blake’s also enough to convince her that (believe it or not) there’s something even better than chocolate.

 Review- Samantha Sterling is the elder sister of Bailey and Cecily who has inherited her family’s Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company formerly run by her step-father Waldo. Her mother is devastated by his death and it’s the only thing that stops her from speaking the truth of her feelings about Waldo. Basically, his lack of financial management skills has run the company into the ground and it’s up to Samantha to revive it. To make things worse, there’s a new bank manager in town, the handsome Blake Preston who has given Samantha less than two months to repay the company’s debt.

Despite her underlying attraction to Blake she despises him and everything he represents- a bank that intends to ruin a family business which will have serious implications for the small town of Icicle Falls. Samantha is determined to make Sweet Dreams a success and recruits her family into the planning of a huge Valentines Chocolate Festival and they have just six weeks to pull it off.

I liked Samantha’s strength of mind, even facing the reality of bankruptcy she never let it get her down- she just kept pushing forward. Of course the downfall of this was her coming across as headstrong and unreasonable at times, particularly when it came to her working relationship with Blake. Her first meeting with him completely jaded her perception of him even though he tried his best throughout the festival planning to help her family and keep the company afloat. Most of their interactions were characterised by Samantha’s snappy, moody remarks which made it difficult for me to believe that the two of them had a future beyond a mere physical attraction. I liked that Blake’s viewpoint was interspersed throughout the book so it could be seen what he was doing to help Samantha behind the scenes, but I didn’t really get a sense of why he was attracted to Samantha besides physical desire.

I think the relationship development and characterisation of Blake was the downfall for this book and seemed to push it more into a ‘chic lit’ genre than a true romance as I’d like to have seen these areas fleshed out a bit more. There were also little sub-plots Samantha’s sisters Cecily and Bailey which did spark my curiosity and wouldn’t surprise me if found themselves in the starring role in Robert’s future books.

Despite some of the issues I had with romantic believability of the couple, I did enjoy the story. Sweet Dreams is an easy, light-hearted read with subliminal messages about sweet milky treats which I am guilty of succumbing to while perusing this book.

Overall Rating

3/5

“It was good”

Better than Chocolate can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

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