Title: Charmed by Chocolate
Author: Steena Holmes
Series: Love at the Chocolate Shop #6
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
When Leah ran off to Southern California, she hoped to leave freezing cold winters and unrequited love behind. She was never meant for a small town life and the timing with her longtime best friend–and secret soul mate–was always hopelessly off.
But after a mishap on the hit reality show Charming, Leah declares her love for Wade nationwide and is publicly dubbed “Lonely Leah.” She returns to Marietta to hide at her family’s home–from the media who wants to turn her into a human interest story, from the townspeople upset with her blunder, and most of all, from Wade, who wants to talk.
It took Leah leaving town to wake Wade Burns up to the reality that he’s head over heels in love with his best friend. But now that she’s back home, she’s giving him the cold shoulder. With chocolate and a grand gesture, can Wade charm his way back into Leah’s heart?
Source: Review copy from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
I think I would have found this a pretty cute addition to this enjoyable series, if only the two major plot points weren’t so ridiculously tenuous.
After confessing her love for her lifelong best friend (over the phone, no less, you old romantic) and getting no response, Leah is heartbroken and easily talked into doing her friend a favour by going on a Bachelor-type reality show. Whereupon she has her drink spiked and makes a drunken confession about her broken heart and how much she hates her small town of Marietta. This becomes a gossip-mag sensation and Leah flees home in embarrassment.
My problem with all of this is… why? The show hasn’t even been aired when the press start hounding her, and it’s not like she won the whole show then turned to the guy and went, oh, sorry, can’t, I’m in love with someone else. I can’t see what’s so interesting about a drunk woman crying over a broken heart and grumbling about her home town. On a show that no one has even seen yet! Talk about a slow news day.
So that was my first issue. The second, and even more important one, was that love confession to Wade. Leah keeps referring to it, yet Wade seems utterly unaware of it, since he’s been in love with her forever and even told her once – to which she didn’t reply… Nice double standards you have there, Leah.
Basically the whole book is based on that one conversation, which Wade apparently didn’t hear. And because Leah is the queen of hiding and refuses to talk to Wade about it, he doesn’t know what’s going on, and because of the way she’s shut him down in the past, he’s understandably reluctant to throw his heart on the line again, so he’s waiting for her to say it first and… so on and so on and so on and ARGH! WILL SOMEONE LOCK THEM IN A ROOM SOMEWHERE AND FORCE THEM TO TALK BEFORE I LOSE MY MIND!
On top of all of that, I really wasn’t fond of Leah’s grandmother and the way everyone acts like Leah murders babies in the street simply because she said something mildly negative about the town. Now, I like Marietta and all, but there have been plenty of characters over the years who didn’t like the place, and none of them were vilified for it. Get over yourselves. And stop manipulating people while you’re at it.
I kept hoping Wade and Leah would run for the hills together and hole up in a cabin for a week or so to finally talk away from all the meddling and manipulating and just sort themselves out. They should have done that in chapter one, but then this book would have been quite a bit shorter. Which probably would have been a good thing, because there really wasn’t enough plot to drag it out this much.
The worst thing is, I think I could have really liked Wade and Leah, if only their entire story didn’t rely on one moment of messed up communication. So sadly, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to, but I still have hopes for reading all about Leah’s brother sometime in the future.
Charmed by Chocolate is Out Now.
Visit Steena Holmes for more details.