Author: Teri Wilson
Provided Synopsis: Ever since she was a little girl learning to make decadent truffles in her family’s chocolate shop, Juliet Arabella has been aware of the bitter feud between the Arabellas and the Mezzanottes. With their rival chocolate boutiques on the same street in Napa Valley, these families never mix. Until one night, when Juliet anonymously attends the annual masquerade ball. In a moonlit vineyard, she finds herself falling for a gorgeous stranger, a man who reminds her what passion is like outside of the kitchen. But her bliss is short-lived when she discovers her masked prince is actually Leo Mezzanotte, newly returned from Paris and the heir to her archenemy’s confection dynasty.
With her mind in a whirl, Juliet leaves for Italy to represent the Arabellas in a prestigious chocolate competition. The prize money will help her family’s struggling business, and Juliet figures it’s a perfect opportunity to forget Leo…only to find him already there and gunning for victory. As they compete head-to-head, Leo and Juliet’s fervent attraction boils over. But Juliet’s not sure whether to trust her adversary, or give up on the sweetest love she’s ever tasted…
Review: When Leo Mezzanotte and Juliet Arabella meet for the first time the attraction between them is immediate and passionate. Behind masks, under the moon and amongst the sunflowers there is very little to stand in the way of their kiss, but in the light of the ballroom they must eventually return to the reality of their circumstances as they learn each other’s identity. A feud had been born during the generation of their grandmothers’ and they stand on opposite sides; he is a Mezzanotte and she is an Arabella, and both families run a boutique chocolate shop across the street from one another and are furious competitors. To please their respective families they will have to compete against one another as well. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and at least this story is given a much happier ending compared to the inspiration it was created from.
I think readers will really enjoy this story because of all the elements it brings together. For example, I enjoyed catching the numerous nods to Shakespeare’s work in terms of lines, characters, and settings (the balcony!). Then, since the story revolves around the world of gourmet chocolate it is impossible to read this book and not experience chocolate lust for Juliet and Leo’s creations. It really made me wish this book came with a list of recipes in the back so I might have had the chance to whip some of those desserts up. As a hopeless romantic I adored the star crossed lovers aspect and the main characters whose lives we follow. Typically, I am completely against instant-love, but since this takes from Romeo and Juliet I could accept it, and in retrospect it was never love at the beginning but attraction and recognition of someone they needed to know.
This is a wonderfully quick and humorous summer read, so if you decide to give this story a chance I hope you enjoy!