Friday, February 15, 2008

A Gift of Chocolate by Lyric James

TITLE: A Gift of Chocolate
AUTHOR: Lyric James
PUBLISHER: Cobblestone Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 23k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.99

When six-year-old Kennadi Miller decides to get her mother a Valentine’s Day gift, she introduces the recently divorced Sabrina to the cop who escorts her back to the art center she walked away from without permission. Officer Allen Hughes gets one look at the beautiful Sabrina and he’s hooked. All he has to do now is convince Sabrina that not every man is like her drug addict ex-husband. Before it’s too late.

Released just in time for Valentine’s Day, A Gift of Chocolate looked to be a sweet, normal easygoing contemporary romance, something I could read to counter some of the angstier, edgier, or paranormal stuff I often get sucked into buying. For the most part, that’s exactly what it is. The most part. See, it doesn’t start with Kennadi, or Sabrina, or Allen. It has a prologue about a candy shop owner named Krista, 2k of a 23k book. It sets a scene and a mood with Krista, establishing the neighborhood and her circumstances, and then finishes with Krista saving a homeless man from being bullied by some local kids. The homeless man insists on giving her this vial of an elixir, an ingredient to put into her chocolate that promises the heart’s desire. Then, lo and behold, Krista uses it. What’s the problem with this? Nothing, if the story was about Krista. But it’s not. Krista makes a brief appearance in the first chapter and then disappears after Kennadi buys some of the special chocolate. I have to go through the whole process of introductions and setting again with Allen and Sabrina, and frankly, I was a little miffed. The prologue did absolutely nothing but a) distract me from the focus of the book, b) tell me that this wasn’t as “normal” as I thought it was, and c) show that the hero and heroine don’t even really fall in love on their own, but with the aid of a love potion. It was tempting to give up right then. But I didn’t. I stuck with it. In the end, I’m kind of glad I did.

Once I got past the paranormal prologue – or actually, deliberately chose to forget it was there at all – I found myself warming a lot to Allen and Sabrina. They are simple, nice people. Real, for me. Some of Kennadi’s dialogue sounded too mature for her age, but she’s not in a lot of scenes after the beginning, so that never got the chance to grate too much. Instead, I had the opportunity to discover good people can have love, too. Sometimes, that’s all this reader needs.

The story was sweet and romantic, not overly hot though the sex scene was graphic enough, I suppose. It started to fall apart a little in the sex scene, actually, when all of a sudden, the author started to headhop when she hadn’t before. Why do authors do that? It happens a lot. They’re fine for all of the book, but for some inexplicable reason, sex scenes will jump POVs from paragraph to paragraph. It’s very jarring for me, and ends up tainting my reading experience. But really, that marked a decline in the quality of the story. Allen remained solid, but Sabrina made a TSTL choice that lost her a lot of points. To top it all off, the attempts to add conflict in the final third didn’t work. Part of it is because of Sabrina’s idiotic decision, but part of it is that the writing itself isn’t as fleshed out as the rest of the story. It felt very much like, “Oh, I just want to get through this so I can get to my HEA.” Which I did, too, but not like that.

In the end, I still enjoyed it. It fulfilled a need for me this week. It’s sweet and real. As long as I forget about that annoying prologue.


7/10 – Smooth until the sex scene at which point the author starts headhopping, and things go down from there.


8/10 – A character that proves that sometimes a nice guy is exactly what you need


7/10 – Her behavior turns disappointing in the latter half of the story as the author tries to introduce more conflict.

Entertainment value

7/10 – Cliched turns in the last third drag down what could have been a nice, sweet story.

World building

8/10 – I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I didn’t think I was right there with them.



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