9 March 2016

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast by Danielle Hawkins

Hey everyone,

When I saw the cover of this book in Waterstones I knew I was going to buy it. That title and those tights won my heart over pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure going in if this was a contemporary romance or a chick-lit but I decided it didn’t matter as I wanted to read a story about a small-town vet and a rugby player! Also this shamefully the first romance book I’ve read set in New Zealand (and I have relatives over there!).

The book:
Helen McNeil is a vet in the small rural town of Broadview. While taking evasive action from a dull girl at a party one night she falls over - and fails to recognise - national sporting hero, Mark Tipene. For some mysterious reason Helen never really grasps, Mark finds this charming and appears the next day at the front counter of the vet clinic to ask her out.

A whirlwind romance follows and everything is going swimmingly until one little hiccup changes everything...

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast is the funny and heart-warming story of the pros and cons of dating a man whose shirtless picture adorns a wall in every second lunchroom in the country, of calving cows and crazy cat ladies, and of doing your best when life takes an unexpected turn.

My thoughts:

While reading Chocolate Cake for Breakfast I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail Danielle Hawkins included about being a large-animal vet. Now I know nothing about veterinary science so Danielle Hawkins could have been making everything up, but I really liked that Helen’s job was an important part of the story. Hawkins didn’t shy away from including some of the grittier realities of being a vet in a largely rural country. In fact one of Helen and Mark’s dates was to pull a rotting calf out of its mother womb... Not the most pleasant moment in the book but Danielle Hawkins still managed to inject an element of humour.

“Pressing a man who doesn’t even have a pair of gumboots into service as a rotten-calf midwife, I thought, has to be some kind of record dating low.”

Although I did love learning about Helen’s job and reading about a strong female character I felt at times it took priority over the romance. Although the romance was the focal point of the plot I didn’t feel the emotion between Mark and Helen. That isn’t to say I didn’t like them as a couple because I did, but I would have loved to see more passion, more angst, more something. Chocolate Cake for Breakfast never went deeper than a light-hearted contemporary romance and because of that I struggled to become fully engaged with the story.

“He picked me up and hugged me, and I clung to him with my face buried in the curve of his shoulder. His skin was very warm. Don’t cry, I told myself savagely. Don’t you dare.

I enjoy all the characters and felt like the conflict between Helen and Mark was believable, if a little easily resolved. I would just have liked to have seen more interactions between them as a couple. I would have preferred to be shown Helen and Mark falling in love rather than being told that was what was happening. This brings me back to my original statement of whether Chocolate Cake for Breakfast can be classed as a contemporary romance or a chick-lit. In my mind it almost straddles these two sub-genres. As it does focus on the romance between Helen and Mark but the tone of the novel more aligns with a chick-lit in my opinion.

“He had only once said he loved me, and I don’t think you’re allowed to count it if it’s while you’re having sex.

That being said I still enjoyed reading Chocolate Cake for Breakfast and have awarded it three stars. If your looking for a light-hearted and humorous contemporary romance then you will probably enjoy this novel. Also if you like reading books featuring strong female leads they Helen will not disappoint!

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!