Lucy and her friends, Chantal, Nadia and Autumn are all bound by their love of chocolate, often meeting in the chocolate-themed shop and café, Chocolate Heaven, which Lucy manages. Lucy adores her job but it often leaves her exhausted and she feels she is neglecting her partner, Aiden. And their relationship is strained further when her ex arrives back on the scene.
New mum Chantal is also exhausted as she tries to get to grips with parenting. Her baby is five months old and she feels being parents should bring her and husband Ted closer together but it sometimes feels like they are more like housemates than a married couple.
Nadia is trying to come to terms with the death of her husband while raising their son on her own. Luckily she has her Chocolate Lover friends on hand to help and support her, as well as Jacob, a friend she can sometimes see a romantic future with.
And then there's Autumn, who is grieving after recently losing her only brother. While her friends are there for her, Autumn feels her fiancé is lacking in support and doesn't seem to care that she is struggling. They're supposed to be planning a wedding, yet Autumn feels like they're drifting further and further apart.
I haven't read any of the previous Chocolate Lovers series (The Chocolate Lovers' Club and The Chocolate Lovers' Diet) but I quickly got to grips with the storylines that had happened before. Carole Matthews seamlessly wove the past storylines into the present so that I felt like I was up to date with the characters without having a huge amount of info thrust at me all at once. I loved the setting of Chocolate Heaven and the array of chocolatey goodies on offer made me want to dive into the pages so I could indulge with Lucy and her friends!
There are four main characters in the book, which could have felt overwhelming, but I felt like I got to know each of them and it was easy to keep up. Although there is a lot of sadness within the book due to some of the characters' circumstances, I still thought it was a fun, feel-good book and I liked the bond between the four women. Out of the four of them, I thought that Nadia and Autumn were the closest, especially with Autumn helping out with childcare. I did wonder how it was all going to turn out with Nadia as she has a gorgeous friendship with Jacob but he also has a past with Chantal and I hoped Nadia would get a happy ending after all she's been through.
Although I did enjoy the book, I wish there had been a much bigger injection of Christmas. Apart from at the end, it didn't feel very festive to me, which was something I was looking forward to after reading Carole Matthews' previous Christmas book, Calling Mrs Christmas, which was very festive. Having said this, the chocolate overload did go some way to ease the lack of festivity! Another slight niggle I had with the book was the constant use of Lucy's nickname for her partner, Aiden. She refers to him as Crush and I'm not sure why but it bothered me, especially when she used it while speaking aloud to her friends. Perhaps it's because I haven't read the previous books where he was Lucy's crush.
Overall I thought The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas was a fun read full of friendship and romance.
My Festive Reads is a feature celebrating all things bookish and Christmassy.
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