At twenty-seven, Penelope Dalton is quickly ticking off items on a bucket list. Only the list isn’t hers. After her eight year-old daughter Ella is given just six months to live thanks to an inoperable brain tumor, Penelope is determined to fill Ella’s remaining days with as many new experiences as she can.
With an endless supply of magical gifts and recipes from the hot chocolate café Penelope runs alongside her mother in a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, she is able to give her daughter almost everything she wants. The one sticking point is Ella’s latest addition to her list: get a dad. And not just any dad. Ella has her sights set on Noah Gregory, her biological father and the only person Penelope knows to have proved her true love hot chocolate wrong.
Now Noah’s back in town for a few months—and as charming as ever—and the part of her that dreamed he was her fate in the first place wonders if she made the right decision to keep the truth of their daughter from him. The other, more practical part, is determined to keep him from breaking Ella’s heart too.
But as Ella’s health declines, Penelope must give in to her fate or face a future of regrets.
I don’t even know where to start with this review as it was a solid five star read right up until the very end. . . . .
Literally, everything but the ending of this book falls into the “Likes” category for me. The characters, the plot, the development, the love story, the pacing, the drama all appealed to me from the opening scene right on through to the last few chapters. Here’s the skinny . . . .
Penelope Dalton is raising an amazing kid with a bright spirit on her own. Penelope Dalton is also raising a kid with an expiration date thanks to an inoperable brain tumor. With nothing left to do medically, Penelope has decided to enjoy the time she has left with her daughter and help her tick off every item on her Bucket List! Though much of Penelope’s life revolves around her daughter, the parts that don’t revolve around she and her own mother’s chocolate shop. For several generations, the chocolate shop has been a place of wonder, hope, and quite literally, magic. Yes, the chocolate is amazing, but it also contains magic with the ability to help people see their one true love, find bliss, and change their future.
For a year, Penelope has lived with the belief the magic doesn’t work as advertised. After the town collectively wished for her daughter’s health and survival and it didn’t work, Penelope has grown bitter and somewhat angry. With no hope left for her daughter’s recovery, Penelope has cancelled her family’s involvement in the town’s beloved Festival of Fate which has prompted some serious backlash from citizens and friends alike. As if her life weren’t already complicated enough, Penelope’s ex, and father to her daughter, is back in town and wreaking havoc on her already turbulent emotions.
Fate and magic have everything to do with Penelope’s life and with the mix of her daughter’s condition, the town being angry with her, and her ex being back, both seem to be laughing at her. What fate and magic didn’t count on is the resilience and belief of Penelope’s daughter! That child has faith for a crowd and with a bit of conspiring, puppy dog eyes, and reliance on the old “I don’t have much longer!” Penelope’s daughter works a little magic of her own.
The Bottom Line: Right up to the last few chapters I was all over adoring this story, and then the end came. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? The pacing of this book, the characters, the story all deserved so much more than the craptastic ending they got. I have rarely been so disappointed in a book, but this one . . . . . let’s just say the disappointment is strong with this one. As I sit here writing this review, thinking about the ending, I get angry all over again. You have been warned, dear reader ☹
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