The Chocolate Box by Isabella May

Good morning, bookworm, do come in from the rain. Goodness, you’re drenched! Let me take your coat and fix you a hot drink while you get settled by the fire. There are some little chocolates to nibble on too, if you like. I had to buy them after reading The Chocolate Box by Isabella May – have you heard of it? Let me tell you all about it.

Here’s the blurb: Ellie Sanchez wants revenge. Spurned during her school days at prestigious Monty’s academy when she was plain Eleanor Finch, and played second fiddle to her idol, Barnaby Westwood, and his show-off sister, Clementine, Ellie will stop at nothing to turn the tables now she’s all grown up. The siblings and their snubbing have been the catalyst for everything that’s gone wrong in her life, from parental neglect to her divorce.

When the Westwood travel merchandise company advertises for a new HR manager, Ellie decides her unique combo of karma and Law of Attraction has finally come good. And she’ll be bagging herself a cherry-on-the-cake, second, and richer, husband in the process – once Barnaby sees how much she’s changed, anyway.Fast forward two years and he STILL doesn’t recognise her! Fast forward two years and the company is in a financial mess. Last Chance Saloon-style, Ellie coerces the siblings and their older sister, Brooke (the perpetual spanner in her works) to a rustic gîte in Normandy for a spot of team-building… over a very ‘special’ box of artisan chocolates.

Cue ALL the fireworks in the cocoa bean version of Jumanji…

Here’s a little about the author:

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic, as well as a Pranic Healer.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of rom com, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

You can follow her Foodie Romance Journey series at the following hang-outs.

And here’s my review: I need to say that whilst I enjoyed this book, I disliked Ellie from the start. I know, I know, she feels hard done by and it’s unpleasant being the outsider at school, however I just couldn’t get on board with her materialistic side and vengeful nature. Plus, the blurb describes her as having experienced parental neglect, and whilst her mother certainly wasn’t going to win any prizes for parent of the year given her put downs and complaints, putting her child in nursery at 7 months old would mean many modern mothers would be deemed guilty of neglect too.

Enter Brooke, who saved the book for me, and seems to be cut from a different cloth to her family, who could have stepped right out of an episode of Dynasty with their bitchiness and narcissism. I also liked the random chapters in an interview format of the gite owners being quizzed about the destruction which followed a team building weekend with Ellie and the Westwoods. The theme of materialism is continued with this couple and the interviewer too, which helped bind the chapters neatly for me.

I found the book to be well-paced and it quickened at the end once the magic became apparent in Ellie’s plan for revenge. I also found myself wishing I had a box of artisan chocolates to hand whilst reading it, as the descriptions of them were deliciously tantalising for a chocoholic bookworm like me. I’m glad I had a digital copy of the book as I think seeing the beautiful cover every time I picked it up would have been too much to bear!

Overall, I enjoyed this book and must remind readers that these are all opinions only, and I’m sure many people will love Ellie as a character. 3 / 5 stars from me.

If you fancy a nibble at this story, click on the book image above to go to the relevant page on Amazon. I don’t get anything for providing the link, I’m just being a helpful bookworm.

Well, I suppose I must go. I promised the cookery books I’d restock the larder as they’ve decided to try out some new recipes. I wonder if I can persuade them to make some chocolates…

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