Monday, 22 March 2010

Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley

****
Chloe lives fairly quietly with her teenage brother, eccentric grandfather and aunt in a pretty Lancashire village. She makes gorgeous chocolate wishes in the shape of angels, acts a PA to her grandfather, goes to the pub with her two best friends and according to the book she does very little else! She’s been unlucky in love – jilted by her fiancé just before the wedding and in the dim distant past she was badly let down by Raffy, the love of her life, when she had to leave university to look after her baby brother. Chloe is getting on with things when Raffy unexpectedly reappears as the new vicar!
It’s been of a Trisha Ashley fest this year! Here’s her latest and, sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations…I think she’s brilliant and I was sooo looking forward to reading this, but it just didn’t quite make it. However, despite my slight disappointment, there’s a lot of good, Chloe is an interesting heroine and although it seems a weak reason for her to be so hung on Raffy after all this time, it eventually becomes apparent that she has some justification for doing so. Felix and Poppy make stereotypically good friends and create a romantic subplot with a bit of help through love potions and magical chocolate. Jake the stroppy teenage brother who she has raised is interesting enough and prevents Chloe becoming a total sad no-life! I felt Raffy was actually a bit underwritten and could have been more interesting, he’s been a rock star, is obviously gorgeous (what else?) but then settles for a quiet rural life? I would have liked much more back story to make him fully developed. David, the jilting fiancé was suitably nasty and disagreeable and deserving of the rubbish dumped on him. The descriptions of making chocolate were great and gave me cravings to get down to Thornton’s asap!
The less likeable aspect was the whole pagan/ magic stuff didn’t really work for me – I know Ashley has used magical themes in her previous work, and I liked the links to A Winter’s Tale, which I loved! But the magical aspect just felt a bit contrived (it smacked of Christina Jones stuff and I was a bit disappointed by her last one too). Okay, I accept it created a contrast/tension with Raffy’s Christianity, but is it such a big deal, haven’t “alternative belief systems” become more widespread?
Anyway, it is snappily written, has good "realistic" characterisation overall, due to having more mature, less moneyed and glamourous charcters than a lot of chick-lit (which I think is a good thing!) , but was just lacking something for me.