Jennifer Greene – “Blame It On Chocolate”

23 Jan

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: HQN Books, 2006

The back blurb:
“Lucy Fitzhenry didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to do something stupid …
But when an experimental strain of chocolate that she’d developed needed testing, someone had to do it. Who knew that overindulging in her creation would turn an introverted plant lover into a wild nymphomaniac? Or that a celebration with Nick, her boss, would lead to a shocking kiss and a whole lot more.
She blamed it on the chocolate. Her new discovery was supposed to have made her career. Not turn her practical, logical, normal life upside down and get her pregnant with her boss’s baby! Though she and Nick butted heads at work, if their one night together was any indication, they were a
great match in bed. With a little luck (and chocolate!) maybe they could turn their one-night stand into the chance of a lifetime.”

After reading this back blurb, I opened the book with some trepidation. It sounds like a story I normally stay away from – far, far away. I got it because I wanted to read Greene’s Blame it on Cupid and because of the similar titles I thought it was a series. Being anal about such things … I naturally ended up with the first too.

Boy, I’m glad I’m like that.

Sure, Blame it on Chocolate was off to a slow start. I didn’t buy wholly into the way the “chocolate revolution” happened and the family-run business was a tad too cute. It also took some time until it was “revealed” that Lucy and Nick had a one-night stand together and that Lucy now was pregnant. This would have worked better if it wasn’t already revealed in the back blurb (not the author’s fault, of course). This way, it was annoying.

But reading on, I liked this story more and more. And that was mostly because of the characters. Both Nick and Lucy are nice and normal people who try to do the right thing and come to grips with the unwanted pregnancy. They each know that under “normal” circumstances they wouldn’t be together. So the question is: what to do? They have a couple of options, ranging from abortion to marriage, and they think about all of them.

The answer of the generation of Nick’s grandfather – marriage – is set against a more modern look at the problem:

Nick: “Marriage […] is your generation’s definition of honor.”
His grandfather: “It’s everybody’s definition.”
Nick: “No. It’s not. My definition of doing the honorable thing is doing what’s best for the woman involved.”

(p. 277)

And that’s what made this novel really work for me. The answers of two generations to the same problem are set against each other and looked at. Nick is trying to do the honorable (right) thing. But this doesn’t necessarily mean the same than a couple of decades ago (and it’ll probably change again). A bit later in this conversation with his grandfather he says: “These days trying to do the right thing is hairier than trying to learn a foreign language.” (p. 278)

Both Nick and Lucy are trying to do the right thing and it’s a nice change of pace to read about two people deal like adults with a serious problem. No keeping-the-baby-a-secret from Lucy, no slut accusations from Nick. Of course, their initial agreement that “there’s no basis for a marriage or anything crazy like that” (p. 88) is going to to kick them in the ass. And it’s fun to watch them work that out, too.

I closed the book feeling fine and warm. The world was good for some time.

Would I recommend this novel?Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 / 5


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