Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Love, Chocolate and Beer (Cactus Creek) by Violet Duke


Romance has met its most unlikely match-up…

Luke Bradford is a chocolatier on a mission.  After moving his chocolate shop, and newly single life, to the quirky town of Cactus Creek, Luke wants nothing more than to devote all his energy into making his business a success—by taking the romance market by storm.  But his grand plans get thrown for a loop when he locks horns with the feisty beer-brewing beauty next door who calls his ‘romantic idealism’ a load of fairytale bull.  Soon, driving the woman sparking nuts becomes another wickedly fun priority he simply can’t get enough of.

In his defense, she’s addictively easy to incite … and plain impossible to resist.

Beloved local brewmaster Dani Dobson is beyond riled up.  It’s bad enough the new shop owner in town comes locked and loaded with both a distractingly rugged charm and sexy flashing dimples, but the whole only-in-the-movies variety of romance he’s selling—the kind her world has been crushed by before—is really doing a number on her allergy to unrealistic clichés.  What’s worse, he’s created an annoyingly clever ad campaign that dubs ‘beer joints’ like hers as the “cave where romance goes to hibernate.”  The nerve of that man.

Combustible chemistry or not, damn it, this means war.  The stakes … very likely, her heart.

Firstly, I was impressed at the length of this book and it's prequel. It was nice to read a book over a number of nights instead of breezing through it in a few hours. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the introduction of the characters and how they meet (you can't read Love, Chocolate and Beer without the prequel, you'll do yourself an injustice if you try!) The characters growth throughout the book and their ups and downs make the journey so worthwhile. I also really like how Violet makes them work for their HEA too. There's a beautiful sense of humour in this book too which you just can't help but chuckle at as you read. And have tissues handy please, there are some tear-up moments and not just from sad stuff. There're some seriously sweet and awesome gestures within that will make the water works leak. Be prepared though, there are some sad moments where I seriously couldn't see my tablet screen and had to keep dabbing at my eyes just to read the next line ... which made me weep more. Sob, dab, repeat. 

The details in the processes of making the beer and the chocolate had me completely baffled, but didn't stop the flow of the story. In fact, I'm now rather intrigued as to the whole chocolate making/creating process and would love to see it in action. I might have to pay the local chocolate shop a visit and see if I can peek at what they do there and how they create their yummy morsels. I think I'd have to travel further for a brewpub though and my last encounter with a brewery tour ended sourly when the tour guide took us through a freshly cleansed room which reeked of ammonia and quite literally stole my breathe away. Perhaps one day I'll have to opportunity to see something smaller scale than C.U.B. in Melbourne and enjoy the process!! That aside, the research that must have gone into those parts of the book must have been extensive unless Ms Duke actually has first hand working knowledge of both industries, in which case, I'm jealous! The art to create such delicacies and flavours as described in Love, Chocolate and Beer leave the palate wanting and the mouth watering, wondering just how great all those foods and drinks would taste.

Violet introduces all the characters who will be making appearances in their own Cactus Creek books this year, which is part of why it's as long as it is. It was a lovely journey meeting everyone and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series and all the novellas in between. Job well done to Violet Duke!


Huge Thank You's go to Violet Duke and Between the Sheets Promotions for the ARC of this book and the opportunity to read and review it.

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