Saturday, March 18, 2023

Carole Matthews - The Chocolate Lovers' Club

The Chocolate Lovers’ Club brings together four very different women with one thing in common: they can't resist chocolate. This is an irresistible novel for anyone who wishes they were a member! Lucy Lombard can't resist it - rich, creamy, sweet, delicious chocolate. For her there's nothing it won't cure - from heartache to a headache - and she's not alone. Sharing her passion are three other addicts: Autumn, Nadia and Chantal. Together they form The Chocolate Lovers' Club. They meet in their sanctuary, Chocolate Heaven, as often as they can, and with a cheating boyfriend who promises he'll change, a flirtatious boss, a gambling husband and a loveless marriage, there's always plenty to discuss!

Comment: I was given this book for Christmas but only now did I manage to fit it into my monthly lists. It's also the first book by the author but I knew beforehand the author writes fun romantic comedies bordering on women's fiction.

In this book we meet the members of the Chocolate Lovers' Club, a group of four different women, who meet often at the Chocolate Heaven, the best place to buy all kinds of chocolate and where people can also sit and eat. Lucy Lombard is the founding member and she leads a very average life, where chocolate can work as therapy for her in all kinds of situations and the truth is she and boyfriend Marcus have had many ups and downs. The other members are quiet Autumn, confident Chantal and tired Nadia, who all have their own issues but, if necessary, they are there for one another and often get themselves in the craziest situations but thankfully friendship and chocolate can help solve almost everything...

I admit I had some expectations about what kind of story I'd find here, considering the covers of the author's books alone. All are cute, sweet, colorful and immediately make me think two words: easy and light. I just assumed the stories would not have a lot of depth, which is something I like in fiction, even if it's a simple romance story, and I must say I was definitely proven right of my assumption.

This is a very forgettable story and I'm sad to think that the inside does not match the beautiful covers... extrapolating, since I have not read other books by the author nor do I plan to, probably that explains, in part at least, why there are so many books by this author... I can only suppose they aren't too hard to develop. This is a pity for the idea isn't too bad, friendship and chocolate aren't an original pairing but many authors have made it work, even when these aren't the main elements.

The story is told mainly by Lucy but we do have scenes shared by the POV of the others. All have much more complicated lives than what one would expect and Autumn and Nadia in particular have difficult situations to overcome, regarding family members. I can only imagine how the story might be more appealing, emotionally, if it had been focused mostly on their side of things, but sadly Lucy is the main narrator and she is quite silly at times and very immature at others. As for Chantel, she has very pointless problems or - maybe I should say it in a different way - she has perceived problems which she isn't dealing with in a mature way as her age should indicate.

Lucy and her boyfriend have had a rocky relationship since he cheated before. Obviously, it's no surprise to discover on chapter 1 or 2 right away that he is doing ti again. Then, I thought this would be a tale about Lucy letting go and moving on, but the writing and the supposed love interest didn't feel very likable and I was thinking to myself, is this where the story is going, because if it is, I really won't be able to think this has enough substance. Well, it ended up being my final impression, really. I also know the aim here isn't to write the best British novel ever, but if it's being published, some structure and content had to be planned for it to be successful, no? Well, the author has many books published so, what do I know!

As the plot moves along, the main characters see themselves in may silly and childish situations which I've found too demeaning and some things were even caused by irresponsible behavior. I was wondering what the point would be but when the story reaches the end, we don't have any definitive resolution to Lucy's romantic life nor about anything else. Apparently there are three more novels about these four friends, and each book isn't focused on one, I have to assume. We would have to read them all to have the beginning, middle and end of each one of their lives/paths. I don't think I'm that interested.

As for the chocolate content, the women surely eat a lot of it and that doesn't have to be a problem but the way the author wrote didn't make it always appealing and how can this be.... I like chocolate so a book about it would be mouthwatering, I thought, but it turns out that writing can be good or bad - of feel like that - no matter how much one likes or dislikes a subject. 
To summarize: I didn't finish this book liking the writing nor the characters in general. The idea and some scenes regarding Nadia and Autumn felt like having potential, but I'm not as curious as that to read more to find out.
Grade: 4/10

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