CHOCOLATE CAKE FOR BREAKFAST
Author: Danielle Hawkins
Allen & Unwin RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Danielle Hawkins’ debut novel Dinner at Rose’s was one of my favourite books of 2012 so I jumped at the chance to review Chocolate Cake for Breakfast. I was in the mood for something light-hearted, easy and entertaining and, thanks to Blue Eyes’ recognising my need for some quiet time, I finished the book in one sitting. I guess that tells you I found what I was looking for. Set in the small rural town in New Zealand, Chocolate Cake for Breakfast focuses on falling in love … and what to do when the relationship takes an unexpected turn.
For rural vet, Helen McNeil and pin-up rugby player Mark Tipene, romance is of the whirlwind variety. They meet at a party, go on a couple of dates … and can’t stop texting each other between vet call-outs and rugby tours. Yes, this is how it is for these two, despite their first date including the deposit of a jar of cat poo on the cafe table, their second involving the removal of a dead calf from its mother, and the third just getting started when relatives bearing sexy lingerie drop by. Somehow, love prospers.
Of course, a love story always needs a hiccup (or two) to keep the story going, and Chocolate Cake for Breakfast involves a big one (and that’s on top of problems of distance, career aspirations, family expectations and insecurities). I won’t spoil it here, but it’s big enough to make the couple re-evaluate how well they know each other, their compatibility, and their future together. It’s a classic rom-com where “average”, klutzy girl meets celebrity “got-it-all-together” guy … but it works well. I liked both the characters and found myself hoping throughout that the romance would have a happy ever after ending. The secondary cast was equally likeable. I loved the interaction between Helen and her father’s second family, particularly in the way she related to her stepmother, who was more of a friend than a mother-figure. This contrasted well with Mark’s more distant family and it made Mark’s attraction to Helen more believable – she had something he really wanted in his life, even though it took a while for her to see that. I was glad the big hiccup had little to do with past gorgeous girlfriends (it featured a bit, but didn’t take amount to much) because that would have seemed too obvious; Hawkins is capable of taking the story deeper and she did.
Overall, I enjoyed this and laughed out loud more than once … as well as cringing (a lot) at the detailed descriptions of Helen’s veterinary life. Why I can sometimes read a crime novel with less cringing is beyond me. It’s a charming read that is ideal for those times you just want something a bit lighter, without going for complete fluff. However, if I had to pick between this book and Dinner at Rose’s, I would choose the latter, because for me it had greater emotional depth; Chocolate Cake for Breakfast falls more easily into the chick-lit genre and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I did finish the book feeling like I wanted more from it.
If you want something light that will bring out the warm fuzzy feelings, you won’t go wrong with Chocolate Cake for Breakfast. It’s available from good bookstores and Allen & Unwin. This copy was courtesy of Allen & Unwin.
Bookish treat: Chocolate cake, of course. For breakfast, naturally.