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Better Than Chocolate (Life in Icicle Falls Series #1)

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Overview

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations, ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed up her first fabulous recipe. But now it looks as if they're about to lose Sweet Dreams to the bank?and that would be a disaster, not only for the family but for the town of Icicle Falls, Washington. Can Samantha, the oldest daughter and new head of the company, come up with a way to save it?

After Samantha does some brainstorming with her mother and ...

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Better Than Chocolate

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Overview

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations, ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed up her first fabulous recipe. But now it looks as if they're about to lose Sweet Dreams to the bank—and that would be a disaster, not only for the family but for the town of Icicle Falls, Washington. Can Samantha, the oldest daughter and new head of the company, come up with a way to save it?

After Samantha does some brainstorming with her mother and sisters, inspiration strikes. They'll have a chocolate festival! Time's running out, but the Sterling women are determined and the town's behind them, so everything's bound to go smoothly….

Or not. Events seem to be conspiring against Samantha, and her mother's attempts to help aren't helping. To make matters worse, the fate of her company is in the hands of her archenemy, Blake Preston, the bank manager with the football-hero good looks. It's enough to drive her to chocolate. But Blake's also enough to convince her that (believe it or not) there's something even better than chocolate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Within minutes of cracking open the book, my mood was lifted...The warm, glowing feeling it gave me lasted for days."
-First for Women on The Snow Globe

"Will doubtless warm more than a few hearts."
-Publishers Weekly on Angel Lane

"Most fiction lovers will enjoy this feel-good approach to today's uncertainties."
-Booklist on Small Change

"Realistic characters populate the pages of this captivating story, which is a great escape from the holiday hustle and bustle."
-RT Book Reviews on On Strike for Christmas

"An uplifting, charming, feel-good story from the author of Bikini Season (2008)."
-Booklist on Angel Lane

"Roberts's book of small-town life is as sweet as ginger cookies and as homey as raisin pie (recipes included). Readers will laugh and cry with the women lovingly portrayed in this heartwarming story that explores the joys of friendship and the power of good deeds."
-RT Book Reviews on Angel Lane

"Homing in on issues many readers can identify with, Roberts's women search for practical solutions to a common challenge with humor and froth."
-Publishers Weekly on Small Change

"A congenial cast of subsidiary characters...meet Hope at a community garden plot and share their stories there. Roberts effectively knits these troubled but kindly characters together in a story line that throws the reader a few unexpected twists."
-The Seattle Times on Love in Bloom

"Love in Bloom is a wonderful story with characters so real and defined I feel like I am personally acquainted with them...There is humor and emotion in large quantities in this fantastic book that is next to impossible to put down. Kudos and a large bouquet of flowers to Sheila Roberts for giving us one of the best books of the year." -Fresh Fiction

From the Publisher
"Within minutes of cracking open the book, my mood was lifted...The warm, glowing feeling it gave me lasted for days."
-First for Women on The Snow Globe

"Will doubtless warm more than a few hearts."
-Publishers Weekly on Angel Lane

"Most fiction lovers will enjoy this feel-good approach to today's uncertainties."
-Booklist on Small Change

"Realistic characters populate the pages of this captivating story, which is a great escape from the holiday hustle and bustle."
-RT Book Reviews on On Strike for Christmas

"An uplifting, charming, feel-good story from the author of Bikini Season (2008)."
-Booklist on Angel Lane

"Roberts's book of small-town life is as sweet as ginger cookies and as homey as raisin pie (recipes included). Readers will laugh and cry with the women lovingly portrayed in this heartwarming story that explores the joys of friendship and the power of good deeds."
-RT Book Reviews on Angel Lane

"Homing in on issues many readers can identify with, Roberts's women search for practical solutions to a common challenge with humor and froth."
-Publishers Weekly on Small Change

"A congenial cast of subsidiary characters...meet Hope at a community garden plot and share their stories there. Roberts effectively knits these troubled but kindly characters together in a story line that throws the reader a few unexpected twists."
-The Seattle Times on Love in Bloom

"Love in Bloom is a wonderful story with characters so real and defined I feel like I am personally acquainted with them...There is humor and emotion in large quantities in this fantastic book that is next to impossible to put down. Kudos and a large bouquet of flowers to Sheila Roberts for giving us one of the best books of the year." -Fresh Fiction

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778313458
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Series: Life in Icicle Falls Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheila Roberts
Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have appeared in Readers Digest Condensed Books and have been published in several languages. Her book Angel Lane, was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009 and her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network. You can visit Sheila on Twitter and Facebook or at her website (http://www.sheilasplace.com).
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Read an Excerpt

Samantha Sterling sat next to her mother in the first pew of Icicle Falls Community Church and fought back the urge to jump up, run to the front of the sanctuary, grab her stepfather, Waldo, by the neck and throttle him. She didn't, for two reasons. One, a girl didn't do things like that in church. Still, she could have overcome her reservations if not for the second reason—God had already taken Waldo out. Waldo was as dead as roadkill on Highway 2. In addition to a daughter from his first marriage, he'd left behind his grieving wife, Muriel, his three stepdaughters, Samantha, Cecily and Bailey, and the family business, which was nearly as dead as Waldo.

Sweet Dreams Chocolates had been healthy when Samantha's father was alive. The company had been started by her great-grandmother Rose and had slowly but steadily grown under his leadership—one big, happy family to mirror the happy family who were living off its profits. All three sisters had spent their summers working at Sweet Dreams. All three had it drummed into them from an early age that this business was the source of both the family's income and honor (not to mention chocolate). But it was Samantha who had fallen in love with it. Of the three girls, she was the one who'd stayed and she was the heir apparent.

But then her father had died and everything came to a halt. Samantha lost the man she and her sisters idolized, and her mother lost her way. Muriel left it to Samantha and the bookkeeper, Lizzy, to keep the company running on autopilot while first she mourned and then later searched for a new husband.

Enter Waldo Wittman, a tall, gray-haired widower recently retired, encouraged to do so by his company, which was downsizing. (Now, looking back, Samantha suspected there were other reasons Waldo had been turned loose.) He'd wanted to get away from the rat race, or so he'd said. With its mountain views, its proximity to eastern Washington wine country, its small-town friendliness and its attractive widow, Waldo decided Icicle Falls would fit the bill. And Muriel decided the same about Waldo. So, after a year and a half of widowhood, she got a new man.

And now there he was, at the front of the church, stretched out in his favorite—expensive!—gray suit. Sweet, beloved Waldo…the money-eater. Oh, Waldo, how could everything have gone so wrong so fast?

It was early January, the beginning of a new year. And what a nightmare year it was promising to be, all because Mom had made her new husband president of their family-owned business. She'd left Samantha as VP in charge of marketing; much good that had done.

Now Samantha was VP in charge of disaster and she could hardly sit still thinking of the mess waiting for her back at the office.

"You're fidgeting," whispered her sister Cecily, who was sitting next to her.

Fidgeting at a funeral probably wasn't polite but it was an improvement over standing up, pulling out her hair and shrieking like a madwoman.

Why, oh, why hadn't Mom and Dad done what needed to be done to make sure that if something happened to Dad the business passed into competent hands? Then Mom could have skipped happily off into newly-wed bliss, no harm no foul.

None of them had expected her to remain alone forever. She was only in her fifties when Dad died and she didn't function well alone.

When Waldo arrived on the scene she came back to life, and Samantha had been happy for her. He was fun and charming, and she and her sisters gave him a hearty thumbs-up. Why not? He'd brought back Mom's smile. At first everyone got along well. Like Samantha, he'd been a shutterbug and they'd enjoyed talking photography. Her favorite joke when she'd stop by the house to talk business with Mom (or try, anyway) was to ask, "Where's Waldo?"

But once Mom dropped him on the company like a bomb, Samantha didn't have to ask. She knew where Waldo was. He was at the office, in over his head and making her crazy.

She ground her teeth as she mentally tallied how much money he'd squandered: new business cards with his name on them, new stationery, new equipment they hadn't needed, a fancy phone system they couldn't afford that a slick-tongued sales rep had talked him into buying. How could a businessman be so bad at business? Of course he'd convinced both himself and Mom that every purchase was necessary, and Samantha hadn't had the veto power to stop him.

That had been just the beginning. Six months ago their profits sank and they started having trouble paying their suppliers. Waldo cut back on production, which then affected their ability to fill orders, and Lizzy, their bookkeeper, began looking as if she'd been invited to dinner with the grim reaper. "We're behind on our IRS quarterlies," she'd informed Samantha. "And that's not all." She showed Samantha expenditures on the company credit card that made no sense. A gun. Ammunition. Cases and cases of bottled water, enough to keep the whole town hydrated. Waldo was a financial locust, devouring the company.

Where's Waldo? Busy dumping their lives in the toilet. Flush, flush, flush! She could have happily stuffed his head in a toilet and—

"And I believe that if Waldo could speak to us now he'd say, 'Thank God for a life well-lived,'" Pastor Jim said.

Her mother let out a sob and Samantha felt a pang of guilt. She should be crying, too. She'd liked Waldo. He'd been a man with a big heart and a big appetite for life.

"We know he'll be missed," Pastor Jim was saying, and Cecily laid a comforting hand on Mom's arm. That, of course, gave Mom permission to start crying in earnest.

"Poor Mom," whispered Bailey, who was sitting on the other side of Samantha. "First Dad and now Waldo." Losing two husbands—talk about a double whammy.

Mom had not only loved both her husbands, she'd loved being married. She had no head for business (which probably explained why Grandpa had been perfectly happy to let Dad run Sweet Dreams), but she had a gift for relationships. She'd even had a couple of relationship books published with a small publisher and before Waldo died she'd been about to start on a new book, Secrets of a Happy Remarriage.

Samantha hoped that now Mom would turn her attention to learning how to have a happy life—with no marriage. At least, no marriage until they could get the business off the critical-care list and Samantha was put officially in charge.

The sooner, the better. Her first order of business would be to rehire Lizzy, who Waldo had fired in a misbegotten attempt to economize. She only hoped Lizzy would come back and help her sort through this mess.

She heaved a sigh. Here her mother was grieving and all she could think about was saving the family business. What was wrong with her? Did she have a calculator for a heart?

"Now I'd like to give the rest of you a chance to say something about Waldo," Pastor Jim said.

He made me nuts probably wouldn't cut it. Saman-tha stayed seated.

Lots of other people were happy to oblige, though.

"He was the most generous man I ever met," said Maria Gomez, his regular waitress at Zelda's. "He gave me two hundred dollars to get my car fixed. Just like that. Said not to worry about paying him back."

Samantha pressed her lips firmly together and envisioned hundred-dollar bills with wings flying away, circling ever upward and off toward Sleeping Lady Mountain.

You do have a calculator for a heart. People were talking about how nice Waldo had been, and all she could think about was money. She was a terrible person, a terrible, terrible person. She hadn't always been like that, had she? A tear slipped from a corner of her eye.

Ed York, owner of D'Vine Wines, stood. "I can still remember sitting with Waldo out on his deck, looking at the mountains, sharing a bottle of wine, and him saying, 'You know, Ed, it doesn't get any better than this.' That Waldo, he sure knew how to enjoy life."

While everyone around him was pulling out their hair.

"He was a dear soul," old Mrs. Nilsen said. "Last month he stopped in the freezing cold to change my tire when I had a flat on Highway 2."

On and on went the praise. Good, old, wonderful Waldo. Everyone here would miss him—except his rotten, ungrateful, Scrooge-in-drag, calculator-for-a-heart stepdaughter. She was pathetic. Another tear sneaked out of her eye and trickled down her cheek.

Pastor Jim finally called a halt to the festivities and the party made its way under cloudy skies to Festival Hall, where everyone could mingle, sing Waldo's praises further and devour cold cuts and potato salad. Inside, the three sisters smiled and commiserated.

Waldo's brother and his daughter, Wanda, had flown in from the East Coast. Taking in the woman's red eyes as she approached, Samantha managed to find empathy in the swirl of guilt and resentment and frustration she was experiencing

"I'm sorry we're having to see each other again in such sad circumstances," Wanda said. "So are we," Cecily told her.

"I'm sorry for your loss," Samantha added. And she was. She knew how horrible it was to lose a father and she wouldn't wish that on her worst enemy.

Wanda dabbed at her eyes with a soggy tissue. "I can't believe he's gone. He was the best father. And he was always so positive, so upbeat."

So clueless. "I wish we could turn back the clock," Samantha said.

Wanda sniffed and nodded. "You were all so good to him."

Samantha couldn't think of anything to say to that. She hardly wanted to confess that during the past few months she'd been anything but good.

Cecily stepped into the gap. "He was a nice man."

True. He was just a bad businessman.

"He sure loved Muriel," Wanda said. "He was so lonely after Mother died. Muriel gave him a new lease on life."

"And I don't know what her life would've been like without him," Samantha said.

"I think Muriel would like to hear that, Wanda," murmured Waldo's brother, Walter, as he led their longdistance stepsister away.

"I need a drink," Samantha said.

"Great idea," Bailey agreed, and they all drifted over to the punch bowl.

Samantha really wasn't much of a drinker, but a good stiff belt sure seemed to help a lot of movie characters through stressful moments and right about now she was willing to give it a try. "I wish this was spiked," she muttered.

Bailey looked across the room at their mother. "I feel so bad for Mom."

Muriel Sterling-Wittman sat on a folding chair framed by the weak winter light coming through the window behind her, a beautiful tragic figure starting the new year alone. Her basic black dress discreetly draped her Betty Boop curves and her hair was still the same shiny chestnut it had been when Samantha was a girl, courtesy of the geniuses at Sleeping Lady Salon. The green eyes Waldo once raved about were bloodshot from crying but still looked lovely thanks to lashes thick with waterproof mascara. Half the men in the room were hovering around with tissues in case she found herself in need.

"Well, at least we won't have to worry about her being lonely," Bailey said. She was the spitting image of their mother and the most like her, as well—sweet, positive and naive.

Cecily gave a cynical snort. "Much good any of those men will do her. They're all married."

"Not Ed," Bailey pointed out.

"He's got the hots for Pat over at the bookstore," Sa-mantha said, and mentally added, Thank God.

"Arnie's not married," Bailey said. "Neither is Mayor Stone. Or Waldo's brother. Wouldn't it be sweet if—"

Samantha cut her off. "Let's not even put that thought out in the universe." All they needed was another man coming along and convincing Mom that the third time would be the charm.

"Look at them. Waldo's barely gone and they're already circling around her like some old-guy version of The Bachelor." Cecily shook her head. "Men."

"You know, for a matchmaker you sure have a sucky attitude," Bailey observed.

"Where do you think I got it?" Cecily retorted.

"How do you manage to stay in business?" Bailey asked in disgust.

"By staying superficial." Cecily gave them a wicked grin.

Cecily was the only blonde in the family and she was the prettiest of them all with perfect features and the longest legs. Samantha had been cute with her red hair and freckles, but it was Cecily the boys drooled over. Still, in spite of her good looks, Cupid had never been kind to her. So far she'd gone through two fiances. Samantha didn't understand how Cecily could make money matching up beautiful people in L.A. but couldn't seem to get it right when it came to her own love life.

Like you're doing so well?

Touche, she told her snarky self.

"You're enough to make a woman give up on love," Bailey muttered as she nodded and smiled politely at old Mr. Nilsen, who was ogling her from the other side of the hall.

"That would be the smart thing to do," Cecily said.

"Well, I don't think Mom's ready to give up on love. Maybe you could match her up with someone," Bailey suggested.

"No!" Several people turned to stare and Samantha downed a slug of punch in an effort to put out the fire in her cheeks. What was wrong with her? Could a woman suddenly get Tourette's at thirty?

The wicked in Cecily's grin kicked up a notch. "I know what you mean. No one will ever be able to replace Waldo."

"I liked Waldo, I really did," Samantha said. "But no more men. I've got enough to deal with already."

"Gosh, Sammy." Bailey frowned at her.

Samantha frowned back. "Hey, baby sister, you two get to go back to sunny California and match up lonely millionaires and cater events for starlets. I'm the one stuck with the fallout here."

Cecily sobered. "I'm sorry. You're right. We're leaving you with a mess. You've got the business to sort out, plus Mom's affairs."

"Except if anyone can do it, you can, Sammy," Bailey said, linking arms with her.

Samantha sighed. As the oldest it was her job to be the rock everyone leaned on—although right now she didn't feel like a rock. She felt like a pebble on a beach about to be swept away by a tsunami.

And her own mother had been the one to unwittingly drop her there. She and Muriel loved each other dearly, but they often disagreed. And before Waldo died they'd disagreed a lot, especially when Samantha tried to get her mother to talk sense into him.

"He's not feeling well," Mom kept saying, but when pressed for details she'd remained vague.

Maybe the poor guy's heart had been acting up all along. Maybe he'd been so worried about his bad health he hadn't been able to concentrate and that was why he'd made such poor decisions. Except that didn't explain his odd purchases. Or the answers he'd given her when she asked about them.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 22, 2014

    What a lovely start to a light series with a serious basis.  Sam

    What a lovely start to a light series with a serious basis.  Samantha and her family are trying to survive the devastating business sense of her late step-father.  Everyone loved him, especially her mother, but their long time chocolate business is on the brink of a takeover by a second rate chocolate company, and the bank refuses to extend their loan past February 28.  




    What's the solution to this dilemma?  All three sisters and their grieving mom band together to save Sweet Dreams Chocolates.  This company was started by their grandmother and employs  many people in their town.  Unfortunately, everything seems to be working against them, including a rock slide on the road into town.  Blake, the bank's new hunky manager doesn't seem to be helping either, but then again, Samantha doesn't seem to be able to communicate reasonably with him.




    The hope of the town becomes a Chocolate Festival right before Valentine's Day, capped off with a Mr. Dreamy contest.  Family and friends work together as only they can, to try and save the company and their town.  In the process, they all learn a lot about commitment, friendships, and the enduring charms of "family".  Great start to this wonderful series of Life in Icicle Falls, Washington. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jen Book provided by the publicist for review Review

    Reviewed by Jen
    Book provided by the publicist for review
    Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

    I have to say that of late, I’ve been devouring books featuring small towns, like Robyn Carr’s Virgin River or Emily March’s Eternity Springs or Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove.  So, as someone who enjoyed several of Sheila Robert’s Christmas novels, I was curious about Icicle Falls… and it helps that this fictional town is in my home state of Washington.  But perhaps because I’ve read so many excellent books featuring small towns, I felt that this one fell just a little short.

    Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s a good read.  But I think it suffered from being the first book in the series.  There were so many people introduced that at times it was hard to keep up.  And with that, there is all that “world building” that so often takes place in that first book, while necessary also gets cumbersome.

    In this book, Samantha is trying to keep her family’s chocolate factory in their hands, but their loan is due and the bank wants their cash.  Enter Blake, the new bank manager and also a past local football hero.  They’re attracted to each other, but Samantha sees him as the enemy.  Throw into the mix that the town decides to rally together to throw a chocolate festival to help the factory but also boost local tourism which took a hit with a warm winter.

    I’m really torn about this book.  In many ways I liked Samantha, but at the same time I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and smack her upside the head.  And for the “hero” of the book, I felt that Blake didn’t get enough time in the spotlight… and therefore their romance wasn’t all that believable to me.  I think if fewer characters had been introduced and Sam and Blake had more time together, I would have enjoyed this book more.

    But I did like this little Washington town and am curious to see what happens to some of the other residents.  I just hope that now that the foundation is laid that future books can spend more time on the romance and less world building.  Oh and as added bonus, there are several divine sounding chocolate recipes provided at the end of the book… too bad I don’t cook.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2012

    Sweet Story, Have Chocolate on hand when you read this book!

    This is a story about "Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company" which has been in the Sterling family for generations. But now it looks like the family is about to lose "Sweet Dreams" to the bank. Samantha the oldest daughter, is the new head of the company, and is trying to save it.

    I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, they were cute and fun. But! I was a little disappointed with the story, myself. As I said it is about this company ready to eat the dust, (or should I say, the chocolate) and like the old saying goes: "If they didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all!"

    The main character, Samantha, was so into herself, that all she could do was feel sorry for herself, and blame everyone else for the company's failures. I got so sick of her self-pity parties, that about half way through the book I said, "ENOUGH!" with the self-pity. I just couldn't relate to that, I almost quit reading the book at that point. That continuing and repeating of the self-pitying began to feel like it was just filler, and some of it was really not needed. (Well in my opinion anyway.)

    Toward the end of the book it began to pick up speed, and got quite enjoyable. I also found out that reading about all that 'chocolate' made me crave a chocolate fix, and lo! and behold! I had no chocolate in the house. To make a long story short, I had to make a chocolate run to the store. Yummy.

    I love Sheila Roberts books and this book was an O.K. read, but I have read two books by this author "Love In Bloom" 5***** and "Small Change" 4**** and I found them much "Better Than Chocolate."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of great characters and

    I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of great characters and a nice small town atmosphere. Loved the way Sheila writes. Makes You want to eat Chocolate!Looking forward to her other book.

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  • Posted May 10, 2014

    Great Read

    First book of the Icicle Falls Series. Enjoyed it so much I couldn't wait to get to the next book. If you like to read about people who could easily be your friends, this book and the rest of the series is for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2013

    Clan Cermony - Deputy

    "Today I am annoucing who I beleive will be deputy of our beloved Clan. Someone who will one day be Frostclan's leader! By the power of Starclan, your deputy will be Slingtail!"

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  • Posted May 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Hott Synopsis: Temper, Sam, just keep your temper. There will be

    Hott Synopsis:
    Temper, Sam, just keep your temper. There will be no strangling the deceased step-father during his funeral. It would mortify your mother.
    Come on, Sam…. You can get through a few hours of making nice before you have to go back and clean up this catastrophe he created. You will not allow all of the generations that created your once-thriving chocolate business down. You will find a way to keep the bank from taking the dream that your family has slaved over.
    It’s all up to you, Sam… Now, stop talking to yourself and fix things!

    Hott Review:
    What I liked: The book  . Yup, I read this book in one day on the field to/from a field trip. It was so very hard to put it down and participate!
    I think I enjoyed this because it felt so real. Yes, there was a romance hidden in there but more than that, this book was about a family struggling to come out on top – and the friends that support them.
    What I didn’t like: The fact that they get to eat yummy chocolate constantly but no one exercises! It’s so not right!!!

    More…
    Author: Sheila Roberts
    Source: Harlequin
    Grade: A+
    Steam: It’s mostly YA appropriate. There is some foul language and a bit of lusting but that’s about it.
    Series: Life in Icicle Falls #2

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  • Posted April 23, 2013

    Whow! From Beginning to end chocolate and more chocolate. It ma

    Whow! From Beginning to end chocolate and more chocolate. It makes you want to go visit Icicle Falls, Washington. You just want some of the much talked about chocolates.
    Death, financial struggles, a Bank Manager who cannot help, and plans to save a company all in one book. The whole town profits from the Festival that is planned.
    The description of the festival is a delight. Family helping family through hard times I understand.
    Yet the festival does not bring in enough to pay off the bank note. An ending I won't give away but one you will enjoy.
    Romance, chocolate, and a chocolate festival to dream about until next book. Good job Sheila.

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    Sheila Roberts is delightful

    Going to Icicle Falls, is a great place be. This story tells us about love found and love lost, and the emotions that go with it.It was well worth time, to read.

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  • Posted December 14, 2012

    Not very satisfying

    Although the general idea of the book is appealing, it seemed to me to be superficial and scarcely believable, even for a romance which is not a genre you look to for realism. The characters don't seem credible, and the amount of chocolate they consume suggests an eating disorder or obesity.

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  • Posted November 6, 2012

    Samantha Sterling's stepfather ran the family business into the

    Samantha Sterling's stepfather ran the family business into the ground before his untimely passing. Now it's up to her to save Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company from foreclosure. It doesn't help matters that the new bank manager is good -looking enough to almost make a girl forget chocolate.
    Better Than Chocolate is basically your typical romance novel. What set it apart, for me anyway, were the chocolate and winter themes. The character of Samantha at times came off as a bit sulky and difficult, but her mother was a sympathetic character, and the depiction of her as a grieving widow was honest and true-to-life. This time of year, I always love the winter and/or Christmas themed romances and anything with chocolate has to be good!
    3.5 stars





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  • Posted October 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Fun idea, okay book

    I had high hopes for Better Than Chocolate: chocolate and romance, what more could anyone ask for? In the end, though, it was just okay. Samantha's resentment of Blake, the new bank manager (and her former high school crush)who holds her chocolate company's fate--and its soon-to-be-defaulted-upon loan--in his hands, seems to be a bit over the top. The situation her business finds itself in isn't really her fault--her recently deceased stepfather nearly ran it into the ground--but it's not Blake's fault either. He is unfailingly nice to her, and she definitely doesn't return the favor. As a result, their conflict has a forced feel to it, which kept me from enjoying the story as much as I would have liked to. After all her antagonism, their conflict (like a few others in the book) was resolved rather quickly, which again, detracted from my ability to lose myself in the story.

    There were plenty of things I liked about the book, though. Samantha and her sisters' plan for saving the company--and helping out Icicle Falls' economy at the same time--was a good one. They all worked together and pulled it off quickly, and it was fun to read about. The secondary characters, too, were enjoyable, especially sisters Cecily and Bailey and their mom Muriel. I enjoyed the town of Icicle Falls, and am planning to visit again in Roberts' next book, Merry Ex-Mas. Though this story just wasn't quite "it" for me, I did find many things to enjoy in her writing.

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  • Posted September 25, 2012

    This was a fun romp from beginning to end!! Yes, and I craved c

    This was a fun romp from beginning to end!! Yes, and I craved chocolate thru the whole read. Mother-daughter relationships are always interesting and this was a fine example. The characters were easy to sort out and made the story flow flawlessly. Visit Leavenworth Wa and you can really get a feeling about the little town of Icicle Falls. The joys and heartache of running a family owned business are appreciated in this story. I think this book is a great way to reward yourself with a sweet indulgence. I absolutely loved it!! Topping on the cake is that we will be hearing more from Icicle Falls! Can't wait!!

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  • Posted September 25, 2012

    Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts 4 STARS Now I want lots

    Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts
    4 STARS Now I want lots of chocolate! Becareful I think I gained weight just reading this yummy book. It's a book that has you hoping that Samantha can save her family's Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company. I want to come back to Icicle Falls, Washington for more stories about the town. Samantha Sterling is now head of the family business her step-father has run the company into the ground. She just found out that in less of two months she has to payback the full bank loan. She is not sure how she can do that. She hopes the new bank manager will extend the loan for another six months. Blake Preston is back in his hometown of Icicle Falls as the new bank manager to take over and dig the bank out of the hole the last bank manager got them into. The bank has a strict policy on calling in bank loans. Blake feels like the town bad guy when he has to deny Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company. He really likes Samantha and sorry that he can't help. Samantha is the only one in the family working in the company. After her father died her mom remarried and put her step-father in charge. He made some bad choices and left bills pile up. Samantha asks her mom if he had life insurance and if she could loan the company money for a short time. Turns out that he did not pay that and her moms house is behind in payments too. Samantha,her two sisters and mom brain strom the idea of having a chocolate festavel and have it the weekend before Valentines Day. That is less than six weeks away. She gets the business chamber to agree and they try to have it small this year. Things look on track for the festavale and then more problems crop of. Blake is trying to help behind the scenes working on some of the problems. But his boss is making him look bad. He brought the competion up to look over at the chocolate factory that he plans to buy from the bank. Samantha's two sisters are coming home to help with the Valentine weekend. Her mother is in deep depression from having buried her second husband. It was not any easier the second time being a widow. I like the town, it sounds charming that I would love to visit. Thier are a lot of dreamy guys in the pagent to find Mr. Dreamy. Also lots of single women in town that need to find romance so I can see lots of books set in Icicle falls. They even have a ghost and if you see her you will get married soon. I was given this ebook to read in exchange for honest review from Netgalley. 09/25/2012 PUB Harlequin Imprint HarlequinMIRA

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  • Posted September 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts ISBN: 9780778313458 E

    Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts
    ISBN: 9780778313458
    Each chapter starts out with wise words from the published relationship books of Muriel Sterling
    Samantha Sterling new dead father ran the chocolate business into the ground. Now that he's gone she has to figure out a way to make it a thriving business so the family can live off of the proceeds.
    Her sisters will return to their west coast matchmaking services after the funeral and she'll have to sort out what's left of the business.
    Blake Preston, the former football hero of Icicle Falls High is now the new bank manager and she had to go meet him and try to get an extension on their loan.
    He feels bad but the bank business can't meet its deadlines if the loans don't pay every month.
    The family story goes back to the original owners and how it is what it is today through hard work.
    Love how the women all use Skype to figure out how to save the company once they learn Waldo let his life insurance payments cease.
    They brainstorm and think a chocolate festival with all the businesses in town on board will help their financial problems. Cecily will end her matchmaking business and come back to WA from LA.
    Muriel grieves and has dreams of chocolate, I want what pills she's on, whew!
    Mr. Dreamy contest would be worth the admission of the ticket. There are some problems with permits and Cecily is more interested in the hunk that runs the Man Cave hangout then the festival.
    Other townsfolk join in to help as it will aid their businesses as well.
    Support group for the grieving one is found to be a good idea.
    Bad business goings on at the bank, behind Blake's back and he has nothing to do with it. If Samantha finds out he might as well leave town.
    Anything that could go wrong is going wrong, enough to make her want to throw the towel in. She can't compete with nature disasters.
    This is a town that cares about those who live in it and their festivals show the love. Even though there are only 3 sisters and their mother a lot of others came out in this book and it's easy to keep them straight, as to who is who. really enjoyed this book!
    Comes with recipes and the first chapter of the next in this series, woohoo, didn't see that coming!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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