The Chocolate Promise is the second novel by Australian author, Josephine Moon. Christmas Livingstone is a busy woman! She owns The Chocolate Apothecary, the place to go in the little Tasmanian town of Evandale for chocolate, flowers and massage. She is also the Evandale Fairy Godmother, granting wishes to needy souls. She firmly believes that chocolate has medicinal properties, so when her best friend, Emily manages to win for Christmas a week-long scholarship with the world renowned chocolatier, Master le Coutre, in France, she knows it is an opportunity too good to miss.
But it also represents a chance to find the French father she has never met, and Christmas is ambivalent about that. But a break from Lincoln van Luc, a gorgeous botanist who sets her heart pounding is welcome: after all, her ten rules for happiness include “no romantic relationships”, and Christmas finds herself in great danger of falling in love.
Moon gives the reader some delightful characters (Elsa is bound to be a favourite), a sweet romance, a jaunt through Tasmania, Paris and Provence, an amusing example of a Chinese whisper and lots of chocolate. Christmas does begin to irritate towards the end with her drama queen antics, as does Lincoln with his about-face moves, but they ultimately have their hearts in the right place. It is fortunate that the events of this novel all take place mid-year, as trying to separate Christmas (the character) from Christmas (the celebration) would have been confusing. The rhyming descriptions of minor characters is a cute touch.
Moon gives her characters some words of wisdom: “Being alive is a risk. You risk dying every single day. But you can’t let is stop you living. And nothing…nothing…you can do will stop death from coming eventually. So the only choice you have is to live” And some astute observations: “I always feel different when I’m overseas. There’s something very liberating about it. Like all the old definitions of yourself don’t apply because there’s no one around to insist on their own version of who you are”. This is a light-hearted, entertaining read with plenty of (mostly) mouth-watering descriptions of chocolate.