Book Review – The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Harlequin Australia, HQ (Fiction, Non Fiction, YA) & MIRA for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Although I required their approval, the decision to read this book is my choice and any reviews given are obligation free.

Well, this one was a little off the usual genre track that I read, but I do like to mix things up from time to time. And I also like to read my fellow current Australian authors as a show of support. Not that they read my books, but hey! 😀

This was an interesting book, though there was a bit “eye rolling” for me. I want people to know that my review may come across as a little snarky, and I do apologise if this offends… but I am trying to be open and honest. And I really do feel bad if I do offend. But – I didn’t like it. There, I’ve said it.

But that view is based on ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’ BEFORE I read the author’s note at the back of the book. That did change my mind a little, as I discovered this was a story from the heart, based on a curiosity turned to passionate research and world building. I really found reading the authors note at the end shone a whole new light on ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’ for me. I mean, until that point I was going to give it two stars. Not only because it was not really my sort of genre (which is actually my fault), but as I felt it a little annoying to fit as much into it as possible. It was like: ‘Hey, let’s pick a period of time and shove as much history into our book as we can to make it sell more.” That was the feeling I had… until I read the author’s note. And then I needed to bite my tongue for being such a cow as, judging on said note, that is not the case at all.

But, yes, there wasn’t the level of love and romance I expected… From the genre ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’ was listed at on Netgalley I was expecting something a lot more light-hearted and “fluffy”. Which was why I asked for it, I wanted fluffy! 😀

Instead I got a historical novel that touched on life, death, love and hate… balanced as perfectly as one of the chocolate blends mentioned. Yes, I have tried a few of the ideas with my own cacao powder, hot water and nut milk. And… yum.

So I might not have been able to replicate 17th century London, cast a plague on my neighbourhood to relive the moments or burn my town down… but my critics who judge me on never trying things from the books I review can breathe a sigh of relief as I did, at least, try some of the chocolate, herb and spice blends suggested throughout ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’. 😉

And, sorry to the copy editors, but this is a bug bear of mine… it is Baynard’s castle… not Barnyard’s. My all-time favourite genre is historical crime fiction and so know a little of London post the great fire and that little editing slip-up stuck with me throughout the book. Where was your style sheet for that one?

So, okay, ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’ wasn’t exactly my cup of… chocolate, but it wasn’t a terrible book. A lot of love, passion and research have gone into it to spin a vivid, colourful and – I would like to believe – mostly accurate depiction of 17th century London during all these events. I still feel it was crammed a little too full of historical events than actual storyline about the characters… but that is just my opinion. I really would have liked to have seen the plot not have to rely so heavily on all the events to make it a story… if that makes sense?

For the technical side of things, I found the formatting rather lacking too. I feel they have only formatted ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’ as a print to paper book and didn’t format to suit Kindle, as the paragraphs were all over the place, mid-sentence at times, and very jumbled. I am hoping these issues have been fixed by the final draft – I was reading an ARC after all – but please bear this in mind when choosing which format to purchase it in.

Would I recommend this book to others?

This is a tough call for me. I mean, ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’ wasn’t exactly for me, but there is a lot of love, detail and creativity put into it. And, being by a fellow Australian author, I feel I would recommend it on those merits alone. But I would have to say that it is a historical novel with a touch of romance and a HEA, more than the historical (fluffy) romance I thought it was going to be.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I think we all know the answer to this one – no I wouldn’t. If anything, I would borrow and read it as a library book… maybe. But I really, REALLY want to emphasise that it is not a bad book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting… but hey! I finished reading all of it (including the author’s note) and that shows it had some major positives going for it. But ‘The Chocolate Maker’s Wife’ was not the book for me. Good book – poor choice by this reader.

In summary: A vivid, event packed historical novel written from the heart with a lot of passion and research.

Until next time,
Janis.

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