[07/02/2009: a few small edits. I think my mind was already on vacation when I wrote this; that is, more than it usually is.]
AVAILABILITY: no longer available
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.”
I got this novel because I wanted to read Blame it on Cupid which I thought to be a sequel to Blame it on Chocolate because of the similar titles. I was wrong. The heroine of Blame it on Cupid might be the best friend of the heroine in Blame it on Chocolate but she’s a very minor character, and you really don’t need to read Blame it on Chocolate to get all out of Blame it on Cupid. (Says I who’s rather anal about reading series in order.)
Anyway, I ended up liking Blame it on Chocolate a lot. And I was surprised as hell because a major plot element in Blame it on Chocolate is an unplanned pregnancy.
This time around, I didn’t like Blame it on Chocolate as much. It’s a well-written novel. It’s a straight contemporary with no mystery or paranormal element in sight (which is yay!) and I like Jennifer Greene’s warm and often humorous voice. Blame it on Chocolate is a story of two normal people falling in love.
That is, two normal people who are actually fuzzy-duddies and who like to be in control, take responsibility and are utterly sure that they are playing in different leagues. They get thrown a curve ball as a result of – as Lucy calls it – the Night of the Chocolate: an unplanned pregnancy.
The strong points of this novel are clearly the way Lucy and Nick handle this curve ball. Lucy might be insanely attracted to Nick but she knows that he isn’t attracted to her the same way. She knows she’s responsible for the pregnancy because she threw herself at Nick that night. Nick isn’t in love with Lucy nor is he even attracted to her (to his knowing, at least) at the Night of the Chocolate. But if he’s going to be a father, he’s going to take the responsibility. Not by marrying Lucy, but by paying attention to what she needs. And then trying to give it to her.
Lucy’s well-ordered world is severely off-hinged at the moment so someone who tries to help her is a good thing. Not just because of the pregnancy. It’s also that her I-don’t-want-to-be-a-bother father moved in with her and is – of course – a bother. He leaves a huge mess wherever he goes in Lucy’s (up until then) pristine apartment. Then there’s Lucy’s nephew who thinks he might be gay and, trying not to deal with that, is hanging around at her place all of the time suddenly. Lucy’s quest to lead a more wicked life is stalled. There’s no way she’s running around naked in her home now. Besides, being wicked also lead to her getting pregnant the first time she did something wicked. So maybe this whole being-wicked thing is something she needs to reconsider.
While Lucy and Nick deal with the pregnancy and Lucy’s chocolate experiments, Lucy discovers the real man behind Nick’s good looks and falls in love with him. And Nick discovers that Lucy could be much more than a kid sister to him, if she only let him. Over time, their initial decision that marriage would not be the way for them is turning out to have been a mistake. But how to let the other one know that without losing your face?
I don’t know if I was in a more bitchy mood this time around. I looked at my first review of Blame it on Chocolate. Some of the things that I found really irritating this time around, I mentioned then, too. But they didn’t seem to interfere much with my enjoyment of the novel then. This time, they kept me from getting really into the story and characters.
Again, I thought the whole keeping the possibility of a pregnancy secret for some chapters a bit too cutesy and coy, especially because the back blurb spilled the beans on that. But even without that, a woman having morning sickness for quite some times, that’s just one of the oldest bells that can get tolled, IMO. I also again didn’t really buy into the way the chocolate discovery was set up. Lucy has a degree in horticultures. My problem is, I’m not exactly sure how this qualifies her for doing experiments with chocolate, going so far as trying different receipts and determining which are the best ways to process it. Her tendency to blather on when she gets going about her work and chocolate appeared more like info-dump passages than an endearing trait of her personality this time, although it is much more skillfully done than is usual:
“Chocolatiers have always done cross-breeding, Nick. You know that. But all these centuries, they cross-bred to get a superior quality of bean. It never occurred to them to try to change the nature of the cacao tree itself. That’s where Orson had such vision.”
“Uh huh.” His gaze pinned the slope of her rump. If she’d gained pound, he couldn’t see it.But her rump was distinctive. Little and tight and sassy. The kind of enticing rump that made a guy just want to cup it and squeeze.
“I’m not boring you, am I?”
“Okay, then…you know the whole Darwinian thing about […]” (224/225)
So these things kept me from enjoying this story fully. To reiterate, Blame it on Chocolate is a well-written story. It features nice and likable characters who are adults and talk with each other (most of the time, anyway). It’s a nice and enjoyable read and there is nothing wrong with the story. But this time, it didn’t make me take special notice.
Verdict: I’m a bit puzzled about my first grade (4,5/5). Maybe I wanted more character development this time around (3,5/5).