Better Than Chocolate - Sheila Roberts
Released October 2012
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
Sheila Roberts' Better than Chocolate builds up the setting for what could be a very long, satisfying series. Welcome to Icicle Falls, a quaint town where everyone knows each other, and Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company is one of the towns largest employers. When Samantha Sterling learns her step-father ran the company virtually into the ground, she's floored. Worse, the bank is calling in their note and if she can't come up with the payment by the deadline, she'll lose the company that her great-grandmother founded.
Samantha heads to talk to the new bank manager, Blake Preston, but he's less than helpful. With her sisters help, they decide the key to success is to host a chocolate festival in their town before the deadline hits. It's going to be tough, but Samantha doesn't want to lose everything her family has built and put dozens of workers out of jobs in an already tough economy.
Blake hates not being able to help Samantha, but his new job requires him to be tough. If there was another way to help the Sterling family, he would. Pressures on from his boss, and he's at a loss how to show Samantha that he truly does care about her business.
Sheila Roberts does more than create a romantic story in Better Than Chocolate, she creates a town where there are many other characters deserving of their own romance. I fell in love with this town and would love to have been part of the chocolate festival. The romance between Blake and Samantha does at times feel like an afterthought. The key focus on the story is getting the town set up and then figuring out ways to help Samantha save the company. There's focus on Samantha, her grieving mother, and her sisters.
Once it's clear that Samantha and Blake do have feelings, it was well into the book and from that point on, things regarding their romance seemed rushed to me. I'd almost say the majority of this book is more women's fiction than true romance for that reason.
One of Samantha's sisters fights a possible romance with a single dad, and that's the story that really caught my interest. I certainly hope the author gives him a chance in a future book. I adored Luke and his precocious daughter, so I really want to see him again.