Audible version, narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis
I jumped into book 3 of this series without reading any of the previous books, frankly because it was Christmas themed and I thought it would be nice to read (listen to) something seasonal and festive. And it was, to a certain extent. You do get allusions to things that happened in the past, but it’s no trouble to follow the story even if you don’t read the first two books.
So the Chocolate Lovers’ Club consists of 4 ladies: Lucy, Chantal, Nadia and Autumn. They share a common love of (or rather obsession with) chocolate and come together regularly at Lucy’s workplace – a chocolate café called Chocolate Heaven. The women all have things they’re struggling with: Chantal is trying to make her marriage work after infidelity on both sides and coping with being a new mother, Nadia was left in massive debt by her deceased husband and has trouble finding work, Autumn is mourning the death of her brother and is met with little understanding by her fiancé, and Lucy is unsure of the future of her job – having finally found her calling, and trying to make her relationship work while her ex-fiancé keeps trying to throw a spanner in the works.
I would say the story has some major Bridget Jones vibes, with Lucy being Bridget (down to the ditzy/clumsy/making bad decisions level), Aidan being Darcy and Marcus is obviously Daniel Cleaver. Though in this scenario Bridget’s friends have equally important storylines of their own. And this story is a little tamer (more chocolate, less booze and shagging).
What I liked about the book was the friendship between the women and how they were always there for each other. I think that was well described and I could feel the love and warmth. I also liked the descriptions of all the various chocolate treats and creations, as well as the Christmas theme. We didn’t get a white Christmas where I live – yet again, but at least I could immerse myself in a story where the snow was falling in a seasonally appropriate way. And it is chick-lit, so I don’t have super high standards for the story/writing, I was just expecting a bit of fun fluff.
It was that, but some of the decisions made were just infuriatingly stupid and sometimes downright weird, which got in the way of properly enjoying the story. And the texting the wrong number thing… Who does that anymore? I can understand it happening once if you’re really not paying attention, but to the extent it does with Lucy? No, that’s just incredible. Apart from Lucy’s texting mishaps and how she handles the Marcus situation, my biggest peeve was definitely how Nadia’s creepy brother-in-law, Tarak was handled. I won’t go into too much detail, but this guy was crossing the line (or in the words of Joey Tribbiani: “you’re so far past the line, you can’t even see the line, the line is a dot to you!”) and giving off some seriously rapey vibes and I just felt like it was handled lightly and like they kind of ended up brushing it off.
Though despite the flaws, it was fun, and I am considering picking up book number 4, mostly because I want to know what happens with Autumn. But I’ll probably wait a while. I wouldn’t say it ends on a cliffhanger, but Matthews is definitely setting up parts of the storyline for book number 4 at the end, and she does do it well enough that even though I wasn’t super into this book I am still curious.