Chloe Lyon’s chocolate business is really taking off. People can’t get enough of her Chocolate wishes; the hollow hearts with a paper wish inside being everyone’s favourite after dinner sweet. And its about time, for Chloe’s had a rough ride since love of her life, rock star Raffy, walked out on her eighteen years ago. Around the same time her useless mother disappeared too leaving a young Chloe to bring up her younger brother. But things are about to turn upside down when the new vicar arrives in the village…
There are two reasons why Trisha Ashley’s Chocolate Wishes appealed to me. First off was the chocolate! A story based around the gorgeous stuff really got me interested. Secondly, after reading another review and discovering that there’s quite a bit of a focus on paganism and the occult, I really was interested. Being fascinated by such things, this struck me as a pretty intriguing and different premise.
And on both of these counts I wasn’t disappointed. I’m guessing that with the care each were written, these are two subjects close to Ashley’s heart. Chloe has largely been brought up by her Grandfather, a practising witch and coven leader, and as a result she also has a more spiritual take on life. Rather than the tarot cards her aunt Zilloh reads however, it’s angels that influence her. I really enjoyed this element of the book, it’s not something I’ve come across in this genre and it was done with great sincerity and respect. I know a little about such things and so easily understood the references, however I do wonder if anyone who has never had any experience of paganism might find it a little confusing. The detail of Chloe’s chocolate making was also fascinating and with rich descriptions, I was almost licking my lips at times just at the thought of such scrumptiousness.
However, I also felt disappointed with this book. There is a mystery surrounding Chloe’s mother, which doesn’t really seem to be taken seriously. And when Chloe discovers a secret that puts everything she thought she knew about her mother and herself into question, again it’s brushed over in a really blasé way. This is a huge thing, and I find it difficult to believe that someone would react so little to something of this magnitude. While the story about the chocolate and the village was charming and entertaining, it seemed odd to make such a serious issue nothing more than a sub plot. I struggled to really connect with Chloe because of this. Despite being written in the first person, I felt I barely really knew her or what she was thinking. Apart from the fact that she is a bit of a doormat and likes angels, I still feel like I know nothing about this character.
There are a number of other characters in the book. Chloe’s Grandfather, Gregory Warlock is larger than life and made quite an impact. He was easy to imagine as the serious intellectual, passionate about his subject. While I found his clipped tones slightly irritating, he was believable in this role. I also liked Chloe’s friends, Poppy and Felix, and really warmed to their story. Some of the other minor characters also brought to life the Lancashire village they inhabit and I had a lot of smiling moments at some charming and humorous exchanges between them. I knew exactly where things were going to go in the romance stakes for Chloe from very early on. This didn’t spoil the book in any way, as that’s not unusual for this genre, and the journey there was mostly pleasant with an intriguing twist.
This is the first book I’ve read by Trisha Ashley, and I mostly enjoyed reading it. There is no doubt that she writes very well and with a gentle charm, that at times makes you feel as gooey and sweet as Chloe’s chocolate. I adored the spiritual side of this book, and really felt that this was done with great passion. I’m not sure if this is a theme Ashley uses often in her books and I would be interested to find out. I did find Chloe difficult to really connect with, and her reactions to her mother’s behaviour unrealistic. For me introducing a thread like this means it should have been given the seriousness and attention it deserves, and perhaps the book would have been better had it been completely omitted. If you like a light, charming romance set in a quintessential English village, then I think you would enjoy this book. Just don’t go in expecting anything more.