Australian bestselling novelist Karen Brooks rewrites women back into history with this breathtaking novel set in 17th century London—a lush, fascinating story of the beautiful woman who is drawn into a world of riches, power, intrigue…and chocolate.
Damnation has never been so sweet...
Rosamund Tomkins, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, spends most of her young life in drudgery at a country inn. To her, the Restoration under Charles II, is but a distant threat as she works under the watchful eye of her brutal, abusive stepfather . . . until the day she is nearly run over by the coach of Sir Everard Blithman.
Sir Everard, a canny merchant, offers Rosamund an “opportunity like no other,” allowing her to escape into a very different life, becoming the linchpin that will drive the success of his fledgling business: a luxurious London chocolate house where wealthy and well-connected men come to see and be seen, to gossip and plot, while indulging in the sweet and heady drink.
Rosamund adapts and thrives in her new surroundings, quickly becoming the most talked-about woman in society, desired and respected in equal measure.
But Sir Everard’s plans for Rosamund and the chocolate house involve family secrets that span the Atlantic Ocean, and which have already brought death and dishonor to the Blithman name. Rosamund knows nothing of the mortal peril that comes with her new title, nor of the forces spinning a web of conspiracy buried in the past, until she meets a man whose return tightens their grip upon her, threatening to destroy everything she loves and damn her to a dire fate.
As she fights for her life and those she loves through the ravages of the Plague and London’s Great Fire, Rosamund’s breathtaking tale is one marked by cruelty and revenge; passion and redemption—and the sinfully sweet temptation of chocolate.
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About the Author
Australian-born Karen Brooks is the author of nine novels, an academic, a newspaper columnist and social comentator, and has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. Before turning to academia, she was an army officer, and dabbled in acting. She lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rosamund is of age and desperate to leave her abusive home, but the ‘how’ causes consternation. All but sold to nobleman Sir Edward Blithman, Rosamund doesn’t know if she will be treated better or worse than in her family home. Charming and beautiful, with a way that brightens the room, she’s also capable and competent, and able to mix the new delicacy, chocolate, with flair. Strangely enough, with the chaos in England during this time, it was a chance for women to be ‘freer’ with conditions, many would open businesses, own properties and conduct their lives with a solid sense of self-determination. The men were consumed with other matters, and the women were allowed to function near-freely – a condition that would soon be halted and not be reproduced until after the Suffragette movement. That was possibly the most intriguing bit of history I hadn’t known before, and the character of Rosamund does embrace these freedoms and opportunities with open arms. When we first met Rosamund, she is a mere ten year old girl, but with the freedoms and appreciation shown her in her marriage, and her ability to blend herbs and flavors into the chocolate bring customers to the door in droves. As a male-dominated establishment, her beauty can be a double-edged sword, her concoctions thought to be ‘magical’ and the ever-present danger of religious fervor never far away. Of course, as she grows and experiences life, los and great events (including the London fire) she’s gaining skills and talents that can be to her benefit, if she chooses wisely. We get the full range of possible behaviors from the characters- from horrible to not saying boo to a goose, but the peculiar mix of Rosamund with her more archaic speech contrasting with her often very modern belief system did make for some interesting thoughts and conundrums – for both her and the reader. What stands out is the interweaving of historical events and people with the fictional ‘what happened’ that extends beyond the ‘written’ records used for sourcing, and beings the delights of chocolate – first as the “new” delicacy, then with the additions and manipulations that Rosamund brought to the table. Surviving strife, fire, abuse and plague, and finding the elusive ‘love’ what Rosamund discovers is that simple pleasures are most needed and appreciated in times of difficulty – and what is simpler than a pot of chocolate with all of its complexity hidden beneath and within the first sip. While not as gripping to me as The Locksmith’s Daughter, this was a story that is loaded with visual and sense imagery, history and plenty of intrigue as Rosamund’s life unfolds before our eyes in a time when England was redefining itself as a country and a republic, and the people were subjected to a series of struggles and challenges, all made better with chocolate. I received a paperback copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
A novel of Chocolate and the cost of revenge Thank you William Morrow Books and TLC Book Tours for free copy to review! After reading two of her novels, I conclude that this author feels quite at home in ancient England. Set around 1666 England, the author uses a wealth of momentous events to shape the plot. The Dutch were fighting the English for control of trade routes at sea, the plague was still raging and The Great Fire decimated London. The author does her research so well, as the further back one goes in history, the more challenging it can be to seem authentic, but I feel the novel succeeds in transporting you to old London in all its grittiness.
The Chocolate Maker’s Wife is a delightful foray into Restoration Period London and the new trade of chocolate. Rosamund Ballister is a teenage girl toiling away in her abusive step-father’s tavern when she is rescued “Cinderella-style” by a rich merchant who marries her, and introduces her to his newest enterprise in London, a chocolate house. Rosamund, newly transformed into a proper lady believes her dreams have come true but not all dreams are what they seem. Finding strength within, Rosamund propels herself through a story of heartbreak, revenge, survival and unlikely love. Karen Brooks’ well-researched work of historical fiction checks all the right boxes. The narrative is fast-paced and full of twists and turns which keep the reader guessing. Drawing from historical events the book melds period accuracy with human emotion leading to relatable characters and a heroine you can cheer on. Beneficial to the narrative is the detailed insight into the chocolate trade which describes the history, industry and preparation of chocolate as a drink. I absolutely fell in love with this book and can heartily recommend. Full disclosure- An ARC of this book was provided via NetGalley in return for this review.
England 1662 the time when King Charles brought his Portuguese wife Catherine. Roseamund works at her step father's inn, skirting abuse. As an illegitimate child, she had been taken in by a wealthy grandmother - until she died - and at eight was returned to her mother, now working instead of being waited on. She adjusts fairly easily and everyone loves her. She has a natural ability for business and making customers happy. But her Step Father and his sons abuse her regularly. When she is running away from them, she accidentally runs in front of the horse and carriage of Sir Everard. He sees a resemblance to his dead daughter, her mother sees an opportunity to get her daughter married and away. Sir Everard marries Roseamund and takes her to London to learn his new business. In several ways he tries to deceive her and sets a dangerous plan in motion. It's told with deep and heartfelt insight, and is an engaging story. It's a story of triumph for Roseamund in that as much as she was abused and used, she chose to have a good outlook and move forward. Not a quick read. I did not like the rough, filthy language and felt that it was not necessary at all to the story. Even though there is a Christian influence throughout the book, I cannot classify this as a clean story. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” #TheChocolateMakersWife #NetGalley #KarenBrooks
This was a great read! Karen Brooks has written a sweeping tale of historical fiction that will keep you up reading late into the night. It's the 17th century, Rosamund's life has harsh beginnings. Born to an unwed mother she is raised by a beloved grandmother and taught to be a lady. Her life turns sour when her mother takes her back to a life of abuse and servitude at an inn owned by her stepfather. Through a series of events she becomes the wife of an affluent chocolate maker. She soon finds out she has become a different type of servant. Her husbands nefarious plans never come to fruition however and the next chapter of Rosamund's life unfolds. What I enjoyed most about this book was the inner strength of Rosamund. She meets each challenge head on, finds redemption and love. This is the perfect read for book clubs. Each characters relationship with Rosamund will lead to many questions and discussions as well the many trials the characters endure. Very well written and an interesting lesson about the history of the chocolate making process. I don't think I'll ever look at a mug of hot chocolate the same.... Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read this novel.