Thursday, February 4, 2021

Dorothy Koomson - The Chocolate Run

Amber Salpone thinks in chocolate - talk to her for three minutes and she'll tell you what kind of chocolate you'd be. In fact, most days, if she was asked to choose between chocolate and relationships, there'd be no contest. At least chocolate has never let her down. Unlike her family. Growing up in the Salpone household has taught Amber to avoid conflict and love at all costs.
So, when she does the unthinkable and has a one-night stand with womaniser Greg Walterson, her uncomplicated, chocolate-flavoured life goes into meltdown. Especially when Greg announces she's the love of his life - and Amber finds it hard enough to commit to plain or Fruit & Nut. . .
Meanwhile, her best friend, Jen, seems to be launching a bid to become Bitch Of The Year and Amber's family are making unreasonable demands. Amber has two choices: deal with her past and the people around her, or go on a chocolate run and keep running. . .
A scrumptiously funny and moving tale of love, lust and confectionary. 

Comment: This is the fourth book by Dorothy Koomson I read but it ended up being the one I disliked the most. I got it at the library so I'm not too annoyed but I did think I might enjoy it more.

Here we have the story of Amber Salpone, a young woman who works in film production and who has a best friend Jen and another best friend Greg and one day she and Greg end up sleeping together, although she knows very well how much of a player he is. However, what she assumed would be a one time event keep happening and she quickly sees herself in a weird relationship. At the same time her best friend Jen is going to live with her boyfriend but Greg seems to think it won't be a good idea although eh never explains why exactly. As her life keeps going towards disaster, she can't help but notice how Jen might not be the best friend she thought she was and that perhaps Greg sees her as more than just a friend with benefits.

Unless some review really turns my head around, I believe this is it with this author. This ended up being the book I liked less by her and now I've kind of zeroed in on what I find unappealing about the author's writing, it will be hard to convince me to keep trying her books. 

Amber is just like the heroines of the other books I already read: independent, smart, dedicated to her work but extremely needy and hiding her low self esteem under a carapace of sarcasm and bad decisions. I just couldn't understand why she made some of the choices she did, how she saw things (all books are from the POV of the heroine, in first person) and still went in to make bad choices and then whines about them and how they make her feel. 

Since this is the author's apparent way of developing her heroines, I think it finally came to mind why there was something about the books in general (which I wasn't really aware of how to pinpoint) that bothered me and it's quite simple now I "saw" the pattern: the heroine's lives are simply dramatized too much and they don't really evolve or change their attitude so I leave the stories thinking they keep the chip on their shoulders and why would it matter to read about them.

Of course it depends on the surroundings but as a rule, it does feel this is the author's tactic. I think Amber is a good enough heroine and she has a lot which could be explored for her to become a heroine we can root for but most of the time I feel exasperated by her options and her attitudes. Why would she think it would be a good idea to be with Greg? He never proves her he is changed, he might be serious. Yes, he is charming and all that but how is being with him making Amber a better person? Shouldn't this be the goal? If not, if the idea was to center the plot on how wrong things can be before they get good, then I think this was a fail because the end was ridiculous to me.

The plot could help if only there was something happening but no, everything was about Amber's personal relationships and even though it can be realistic to know we do let relationships drive most of our concentration and energy in life, it was also annoying because Amber's issues were getting quite repetitive. It was also confusing how the secondary characters would be described one way and their behavior or actions would then confirm them to be the opposite. I suppose in one way this could bee quite the "shock factor" but reading about it just felt like bad execution.

Another thing. The title comes form a huge variety of chocolate references throughout the book and while this is fun and quite the idea the author had, it doesn't really have that much of an importance. Ok, to be honest, I thought it would when the heroine meets a guy  - made to seem the man who would suit her to perfection - and they talk about their chocolate preferences but it just goes nowhere, since Amber is too focused on silly decisions.

I really think this will be a forgettable book. It was not fun to read, I confess I skimmed a few paragraphs here and there and not even the end saved this one for me. No, it's not the worst book I have read but it didn't make me feel like it meant anything either.

Grade: 4/10

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