BOOK CLUB: The Chocolate Maker’s Wife

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Author: Karen Brooks
ISBN: 9781489261458
RRP: $32.99
Publication Date: 18 February 2019
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife is a weighty historical fiction novel that brings women back into the history books.

Brooks writes meticulously researched historical fiction that brings her chosen time period into stark relief. The Chocolate Maker’s Wife takes us back to 17th Century London in a time of great turmoil.

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife is a story of cruelty, revenge and redemption as well as love and hope. It is sure to captivate and shed light on a period of history many know little about. It is certainly a time I have little knowledge of.

Brooks is known to deftly weave historical figures and events with her own imagination to create a captivating tale. I have only read one of her previous novels, The Locksmith’s Daughter, and I loved it; despite the fact that history has never been my strong point.

Synopsis from the Publisher’s Website:

Damnation has never been so sweet…

When Rosamund Tomkins enters the world she is so different, with her darkling eyes and strange laughter, that the midwives are afraid, believing her a changeling. But Rosamund’s life is set to be anything but enchanted…

Born into poverty, brutalised and ignored by her family, it is only when she is married off to a nobleman that her life undergoes a wondrous transformation, as he recognises that Rosamund infuses magic she does not know she possesses into everything she touches.

Clever, quick and irrepressible, Rosamund soon becomes the darling of the haute ton, and presides over her luxurious chocolate house where the rich go to be seen and indulge in their favourite pastime, drinking the sweet and heady drink to which they’ve become oddly addicted.

But Rosamund stands on the brink of losing all she has worked so hard to achieve and will be forced to make a choice: walk away from all she knows and has grown to love with her soul intact, or make a deal with the devil?

I can’t wait to delve into this one, the decadence, debauchery and deliciousness of the early years of chocolate. In the meantime I look forward to hearing what our readers thought.

Karen Brooks can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her Website.

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife is available now through HQ Fiction and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to HQ Fiction 15 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading and reviewing The Chocolate Maker’s Wife so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Chocolate Maker’s Wife

  1. Set in the 1660s in restoration London Rosamund Tomkins has led a sad and difficult life with her mother, stepfather and step brothers at Maiden Voyage Inn but an accident leads to her life changing dramatically. Within a blink of an eye Rosamund is married to a much olden man, Sir Everard Bithman, who it seems wants nothing from her but for her to run his chocolate house, so she becomes the ‘chocolate makers wife’.
    Rosamund is happy to be living in comfort and safety away from her cruel step father and brothers and with the help of the housekeeper Bianca she learns to read and improve her life. Rosamund is a resourceful and keen student and as a character it is hard not to bond with her. Everyone who comes into contact Rosamund loves her.
    Under the guidance of Filip the master chocolate maker Rosamund blossoms and learns all there is to making chocolate and to adding her own special touch to the process. All is not what it seems though. There is a debt to be paid and revenge to be sought and Rosamund is the means to gain that revenge.
    A story with intrigue, unlikely friendships, family ties, love, wonderful historical facts and lots and lots of chocolate.
    The book is a testament to strong women in an age where men held all the power and where ‘Chocolate is a heavenly sin’.
    I loved this book and highly recommend it 5/5.
    Don’t forget to read the authors note at the end of the book it provides really interesting facts about the research for the book.

  2. What a fantastic book! I leant a lot about women in 1660, married to a man who has her run his chocolate house Rosamund flourishes and learns and grows!
    But there’s more to this story than sweet treats. The history is fantastic and it will keep you wanting to know more. Fabulous book I recommend it to everyone grab a hot chocolate hit the couch and be transported back to 1660.

  3. A captivating tale with a strong female heroine and a fantastic mix of memorable characters. The reader is swept away to another period with history wonderfully woven into the story and descriptions so vivid you can imagine the delicious taste of chocolate or transported back in time.
    An enjoyable and compelling read that is sure to satisfy historical fiction lovers

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Australia for the opportunity to review The Chocolate Maker’s Wife

  4. I found the size of this book confronting as I unwrapped my parcel. I am grateful for the review deadline that pushed me. It took a little time to get started but I persuaded myself that in younger days I managed tomes such as The Adventurers by Harold Robbins and Exodus by Leon Uris. As the story moved along, I became invested in knowing Rosamund’s complete life story. The short chapters assisted greatly with my reading. Like Karen Brooks, chocolate is important to me and I was immersed in discovering its early history. The lyrical passage that describes Rosamund’s initiation into chocolate is a delight. The reactions of those in attendance at that moment are superbly told and with this, I need to make mention of Jacopo. History is a love of mine and I own an extensive royalty collection. I did stop and start in my reading as I fact checked. Initially, I doubted the Cromwell beheading inclusion but I was humbled to discover that Charles II ordered him dug up and beheaded! Cousin Samuel Pepys part in this book is a clever device that blends real history with this fictional tale. Much of what is known of this period comes from his diaries. I did wonder what lay ahead after Part One. The angst in Rosamund’s life was likely at an end – little did I know! The awful reality of the plague and the Great London Fire are pivotal in the unfolding of the book. Rosamund’s laughter features throughout the story as she captures hearts across the chapters. Despite the horrible experiences throughout her childhood and young womanhood, she survives and cares for those around her. As truly dreadful secrets are revealed during the novel, Rosamund deals and moves forward. Her nature is truly remarkable. My heart was with her and Matthew as they sail to the New World surrounded by those in their care and who care deeply for them.
    I do recommend this massive read that covers matters that include The Protectorate, The Restoration, the London disasters of the mid 1660s, family secrets, the slave trade, espionage and love and relationships along with CHOCOLATE! It is probably best that it was only when I reached the end that I discovered the extensive Author’s Note which details her historical research and the full List of Characters. These add dimension to the content but I am pleased that my reading sent me into research mode for myself. 4 Stars.

  5. For anyone who loved Chocolat the book or just good old chocolate itself… this book is a tasty slice of historical fiction.

    Rosamund starts out life as an underdog, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman. She is then offered the opportunity of a lifetime by Sir Everard Blithman.

    But at what cost? You’ll have to read this tale of revenge and betrayal to find out more!

    I loved it, thanks Beauty & Lace. 😀

  6. A fascinating story intertwineing fact and fiction with a lot of historical information about London in the 1600,s.
    There is love, loss and all things good and bad, all of which make for an interesting and well written story.

  7. The story follows 17 year old Rosamund Ballister in a Cinderella type story when she is married to Sir Everard Blithman and taken away from her abusive step-father and step-brothers. However Sir Everard has plans for Rosamund and those plans are mainly as a source of revenge. Sir Everard is kind and courteous. He encourages Rosamund to take an interest in his new chocolate house. Drinking chocolate was new to England and was professed to cure ailments. Rosamond had a flair for chocolate making and her beauty and easy manner drew many customers.
    As time went on cracks began to show and doubts set in as to Sir Everard’s benevolence.

    Set in 1660’s London The Chocolate Maker’s Wife is a fascinating portrayal of that era. Brooks’ descriptions of the chocolate making and the different additives used to enhance it were enthralling. With this period in time going through some shocking upheavals such as political and religious unrest, suppression of the press, the great plague and the fires of London it makes for a compelling tale.

    The Chocolate Maker’s Wife is a story filled with treason, deceit and lies all centred around a delicious chocolaty heart.

  8. WOW!
    I do adore historical fiction and this book just confirms why. Set in the 1660’s in England, the Chocolate Makers’s Wife is a book that has it all.

    We follow the life of Rosamund as she discovers the love of Chocolate. How it impacts her life was rather unexpected. I loved her strength as a character and my heart broke for her on more than one occasion.

    Overall I really enjoyed this book and would thoroughly recommend it.

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed The Chocolate Makers Wife, what a fantastic meld of history and fiction, we grow to love the characters through the book and feel their emotions, ranging from despair and horror to joy and excitement. I well written book that, although a long story, keeps the reader intrigued and not able to put it down. Would definitely like to read this authors other books

  10. Thank you for the opportunity to read The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks.

    It was certainly a large book I was intimidated to read, especially an historical novel.

    I connected with Rosamund straight away and was so happy to hear how her life changed in many moments. She was such a strong woman for 1600’s England. I hope there were people like her and continue to be so. She was inquisitive, free thinking and happy to make changes.

    I loved reading about the history of chocolate and the houses where it was consumed, so different to how it is done so now. The wording was wonderful and so descriptive it was easy to imagine the places Rosamund went and the emotions she went through. Her life was filled with amazing people, good and bad, and there were such atrocities in short times. Through all this Rosamund remained the same, strong, special friend and stayed true to herself. I love that about her. For such a large book I still want to know more and would love it if there is a sequel.

    It was interesting that Karen detailed her research which was incredibly thorough and helped to give even more perspective. A big thumbs up from me.

  11. This is a massive read, at 552 pages plus extras it is a huge undertaking. I have to say that it took me a while to become completely engrossed in this novel, not because I wasn’t enjoying the story, because I was, but because I got rather annoyed with being told over and over how our heroine’s beauty and laugh and smile were so wonderful that everyone around her was completely changed when she shone any of these things upon them. It got to the stage I actually started rolling my eyes. As the story progressed, we heard a bit less about these incredible qualities and I was able to enjoy the story much more, by the 150 mark I was loath to put the book down to go to bed and despite the size of it, I did indeed take it to bed to read. It was a fascinating look at a time in London’s history that I had little knowledge about and I was eager to keep reading both for the history and for the storyline itself. There were some secrets we uncover near the end that I had for the most part already figured out, but there were times I was completely on edge about what was going to befall our characters next. I really loved our heroine by the end of the story and was hoping everything would work out for her. I loved the way she treated everyone as equal and gave everyone a chance. I loved the characters who were her constant companions, I even came to enjoy her cousin Sam, despite my initial dislike of him. I really enjoyed this giant read and will definitely be looking at Karen Brooks’ previous novels.

  12. The Chocolate Makers Wife by Karen Brooks. The book transports the reader back to life in the early 1600’s, where the struggles are real and even more so for women.

    The story of Rosamund and her struggle from birth to the end it would seem to be her lot in life. Sold off by a mother to an older man Rosamund is not sure what will become of her life.

    Sir Everard is the owner of a Chocolate House in London, who’s only interest in Rosamund is for her to run his chocolate house. The story unfolds around making the perfect chocolate blend and it seems that Rosamund is also thinking she will have the perfect future with her past life of struggles and torment well behind her.

    An old debt long forgotten has risen and needs to be repaid and revenge to be had…. But at what cost. A fascinating tale of history, family, love and betrayal and of course the wonderful sin known as Chocolate.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Australia, a great read thank you, a book to curl up with a good cup of hot chocolate and take your time as it is a long book …but worth the read.

  13. The Chocolate Maker’s Wife was a really surprising gem. For me it started off slowly, but once I was into Rosamund’s character I found putting the book down difficult. The story follows Rosamund as she is picked seemingly out of the gutter and married off to a far older nobleman. Once washed and clothed in the appropriate attire, her husband soon realises the smart, beautiful woman he has had the fortune to come across. Rosamund faces many challenges in the business and family life she is thrust into and the story cleverly intertwines her fate with the rich history of England at the time resulting in this book being more history than fiction. I grew to love the setting and its rich history, the often times quirky characters and the building romance that could only be hoped for resulted in a happy ending. I did however find the many dramatic events towards the end draining and would have preferred a (slightly) shorter finish, but would still recommend to any historical fiction & romance fans.
    Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to review.

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