Set in a small village by the sea, we follow chocolatier Emma through a year of trying to make ends meet and build the courage to love again. By the second chapter it is Boxing Day and she has already been kissed by a stranger whilst out walking her dog. The mysterious man plays on her mind but her focus has to be on increasing income to help her cover the recent rent increase her landlord has imposed. With the help of her chirpy assistant Holly, and other loves ones, she has grand plans for her cosy chocolate shop.
In all honesty, I almost gave up on this book very early on. It is not well written and I struggled to see past this. I persevered however and at times got caught up in the story. There were moments that made me cringe they were so difficult to read, but even if you don’t end up entirely attached to the characters the descriptions of the shop itself do evoke feelings of warmth and comfort (and make you crave chocolate…). There is some attempt to add some intrigue with the constant referencing of Emma’s previous partner Luke, but no explanation of what happened between them. It was no great revelation when it was finally revealed, and the avoidance of explaining earlier became somewhat frustrating when it felt so obvious.
The to-ing and fro-ing with her love interest Max can feel a little abrupt occasionally but you do root for them, especially when things seem about to fall apart for good at the end. Her pain feels real however, and her reluctance to open her heart to new love is genuine.
The host of characters is likeable and if you’re looking for an easy feel-good read over the festive season then this will provide you with all the expected tropes, though I’m sure there are books that would fill you with Christmas joy with more polished writing.