Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards

She's in love...
He's out of reach...
Is there any hope?

The backcover blurb for Chocolate Roses sets the story up deliciously. He's out of reach...what better conflict for a romance can there be? And this guy is so completely out of reach by LDS standards. If you've read Jane Eyre you'll appreciate this LDS parody, but even if, like me, you haven't, then no problem. It's still a very entertaining read. I had totally intended to read the original first, but took one look at it and said...uh, no.

And it's delicious not just because it's set partially in a chocolate shop, but because you get awesome blurbs at the beginning of each chapter from the original story.

I love these:

I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong!... (from chapter one)

This was the point --this was where the nerve was touched and teased--this is where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him. (from chapter eleven)

And my favorite from chapter six: Suppose he should be absent spring, summer, and autumn: how joyless sunshine and fine days will seem! [In Arizona sunshine is already fairly joyless. I mean if you buy some chocolate, it's melted by the time you get home. That's just wrong. But looking at the quote as intended *BIG SIGH* it's lovely. I could have written that about my husband, if I could write like that.

Then there's the deliciousness of Joan's own story: My heart must have made it back into my chest, for seeing his hand caused a distinct pain where it had resided before...

The story is first person with a very conversational tone. It's as if the MC, Janie, is speaking right to us and telling the story. I loved that. All of us will be able to relate to having a crush on someone we don't even know and imagining a future with them though they don't even acknowledge we exist. All Janie's coworkers are in on the secret.

Anyway, here's a few quick questions (and my own comments) for author Joan, all chocolate-covered just for this interview!

What's your favorite chocolate indulgence/obsession? Sees dark chocolate covered almonds. Yum!

The chocolatiers of your story offer many designs in chocolate, what would you like to see shaped in chocolate? I put into the story the shapes I thought would be fun—Alice in Wonderland, a great dane, clowns, swans, AZ, Saguaro cactus, roses. Maybe I would now add hearts. [My personal fav is chocolate shaped into Hershey Nuggets! Works of art, those.]

Where did you come up with the wacky cast of characters that work with Janie at the shop?
They all showed up for work and so I had to add them. Each brought with them their own zany story.

Chocolate Roses is a very fun, conversational read and I read it on vacation in one day, but I'm always interested in how long it took an author to write. It took over a year. The beginning and the end came easily, but I fretted over the middle part because to be true to the original Jane Eyre, Janie would have to run away. I couldn’t have her leave for more than a week because she had to run her chocolate shop. [Chocolate is that important!] Janie had to pull away from Roger emotionally only. The more she did though, the more she was pulled into Roger’s life. In spite of the differences, I hope the reader can see the symbolisms in Chocolate Roses that reflect back to Jane Eyre.

Give me one line from the book---no context. This is the theme of Chocolate Roses: “I can’t live with her, but how can I throw her away only because she is hopelessly sick?” Or if you are looking for humor: Flo weighs 120 pounds and Aunt Lucy accuses me of putting Miracle Grow in her water dish. The truth is I’ve given up on water dishes and just fill the bathtub. [I'm not really a dog person, but Flo was definitely an entertaining character in the book and she made me glad I don't have one.]

As they say...forget love, I'd rather fall in chocolate...or better yet fall in love with a handsome man who will give you chocolate (chocolate roses, no less.)

Chocolate Roses is a yummy read all around! [You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?]

BTW, this is Joan's second novel to be released in about a year's time, so tell us about your first book, Haunt's Haven. It is a ghost story and a romance. A young woman, Callie, inherits a hacienda inn that has been boarded up for 50 years. When she goes to Cassidy Springs, Arizona to take possession of it, she discovers there is a ghost. The mystery involves why he is guarding the old place. I had so much fun writing it.

Chocolate Roses can be purchased from Amazon, and of course your local LDS bookstore.


Lalabowers said...

All these reviews are making me hungry! I really like white and milk chocolate but I really don't mind dark chocolate.

Tamara said...

I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I'm going to mosey on over to my secret chocolate stash in the meantime! Thanks for the review/interview.

Heidi L. Murphy said...

I really enjoyed Chocolate Roses. And now, once again, I am hungry enough to delve into my vast supply of Easter chocolates. It's all your and Joan's fault...;o)
Heidi Murphy


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