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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Chocolatier’s Wife by Cindy Lynn Speer

The Chocolatier’s Wife by Cindy Lynn Speer
Publisher: Drollerie Press
Genre: Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (238 pages)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Orange Blossom

Tasmin, William's wife to be, was chosen by a spell, as all wives and husbands are chosen. It's a nice, tidy way to find a reasonable mate for almost everyone. Unfortunately, Tasmin is from the North, a place of magic and strange ritual, and William is from the South, where people pride themselves on being above the kind of insanity practiced by the Northerners, which has nothing to do with the fact that most people in the South have lost their ability to practice magic.

William doesn't seem in a hurry to send for Tasmin, for which none of his family blame him. After all, she's a barbarian. She, on the other hand, would like to know what's keeping him. When he's framed for murdering his patron, Tasmin takes matters into her own hands, harnessing the wind to bring her to William's side. She's gotten to know Wiliam from his letters. He's not a murderer and she's going to help him prove it.

William, incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit is shunned by his family for the embarrassment, and for giving up the family shipping business for foolishness, and for saddling them with a Hag for a wife, which means he can't protect Tasmin from his family's cold dislike of his barbiaran wife-to-be--but that's not the worst of it.

Someone out there doesn't like him and is begining to dislike Tasmin almost as much, and that someone isn't at all averse to making sure William and Tasmin aren't around long enough to celebrate their wedding.

Tasmin, of course, has other plans.

I love a good fantasy but throw in mystery, romance and even chocolate and I’m hooked. That’s exactly what you get in The Chocolatier’s Wife. Ms. Speer created an Exceptional Read. I found when I wasn’t reading the book that I was thinking about it—thinking about the characters—thinking about the mystery plot. What would happen on both fronts? That’s when you know you are reading an outstanding book.

From the onset, the reader learns that Tamsin and William have been promised to each other since childhood. They’ve never met in person—only through their letters. The author had a spark of genius when she decided to let us in on these letters. So at the beginning of each chapter (as the story progresses), we get to read one of these letters from the past. And in this way we get to understand their past as well as clues to the plot as it transpires.

The romance in this story begins quite subtly. In fact, there is nothing very romantic about the arranged marriage between Tamsin and William. That is just the way it is. But as the story develops and these characters get to know one another, the romance begins to bloom in a poignant and beautiful way without becoming overly sentimental. Excellently orchestrated.

I do love the idea of mixing two of my favorite genres: mystery and fantasy. Ms. Speer created a believable fantasy world with political difficulties, magic, sprites, herbalists, elementalists, and the list goes on. Completely enjoyable. Add to that the mystery and you have an excellent read. Intrigue, adultery, murder, evil machinations, and a few surprises too.

Beautifully written, The Chocolatier’s Wife will draw you into its spellbinding pages until you have read each and every one. All and all I have nothing unfavorable to report on this book. I enjoyed each moment and encourage everyone to pick up a copy today.