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Dreaming in Chocolate

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A story of love, hot chocolate, and one little girl's wish for her mother that will make your heart swell.

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.

288 pages, Paperback

First published February 6, 2018

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About the author

Susan Bishop Crispell

6 books324 followers
Susan Bishop Crispell earned a BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Born and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, she now lives twenty minutes from the beach in North Carolina with her husband and their Scottish-named cats. She is the author of women's fiction novels The Secret Ingredient of Wishes (2016) and Dreaming in Chocolate (2018), and young adult novels The Holloway Girls (2022), and The Broken Hearts Club (2023). As you might expect, she is always on the lookout for hints of magic in the real world.

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5 stars
158 (20%)
4 stars
289 (37%)
3 stars
232 (29%)
2 stars
75 (9%)
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20 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for Debra .
2,295 reviews35k followers
February 10, 2018
4.5 stars

I really enjoyed this magical book! Will one need to suspend some disbelief while reading this book? You betcha! Does Chocolate have healing properties? I would like to believe yes!

This is a feel-good book! But wait! How so? The daughter has an inoperable brain tumor and has 6 months to live. How can this be a feel-good book? That is where the magic of this book happens. Penelope is a single mother raising her eight-year-old daughter, Ella, on her own. Penelope owns a Chocolate Cafe with her Mother and the town loves their magical chocolate concoctions. You see, their baking table/desk/apothecary has compartments which provides them with recipes to mend a broken heart, to learn the identity of your true love, to show you your dreams, to make a wish upon, etc. The one thing these chocolates can't seem to do is cure her daughter's cancer.

Penelope and Ella have been working on Ella’s' bucket list. Ella wants one thing more than anything else - to have a Dad. Noah Gregory has returned to town to help his brother while he is recovering from an injury. He broke Penelope's heart when they were teenagers and she is not too happy to see him. Noah and Penelope circle around each other. Noah makes it clear that he wants a second chance, but Penelope is apprehensive as he broke her heart and she has been keeping a HUGE secret from him. She is drawn to him but wants to keep him at arm’s length even though her daughter is his biggest fan and wants to have him in their life. Will she tell Noah and Ella the truth? Will they figure it out on their own? Will someone else figure it out?

This book is about love, second chances, chocolate, magic and family. Will Ella get her biggest wish? Will Noah get his second chance will Penelope? Will Chocolate save the day?

Again, the reader will need to suspend some disbelief. No one in this small town seems phased that the Chocolate has magical abilities. I also thought that Ella seemed a little too healthy for a child with 6 months to live. I will admit, I don't have any knowledge on brain tumors, but Ella seemed to have a lot of energy and was active. I wonder what readers with a medical background will think of this aspect of the book. This is also where I choose to suspend some belief.

I gave this book 4.5 stars due to it being charming and a completely enjoyable read. Perfect for curing up in your favorite chair/couch/sofa, etc. It is a charming tale and I appreciated that it did not go overboard on the use of magic, romance or Ella's prognosis. It had the perfect blend of everything. It was a sweet tale about having love, losing love, finding love, being a family and coming home.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com

Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews703 followers
January 1, 2018
I have enjoyed Susan's other books, so I was pretty excited to get into this one.

I really liked Penelope and Noah. She's reluctant and he's charming and together they have a hint of chemistry. I'm sure there would be a lot more if Penelope would let it happen. I think Sabina was my favorite character and of course Ella stole every scene she was in. It was absolutely adorable seeing her trying to play matchmaker.

One of the things I love most about Susan's books is that the magic is right out in the open. The chocolate shop is a fantastic setting and the apothecary table is like another character. Seeing the characters interact with the table was one of the best parts.

Plot wise, it did move a bit slow in parts. It did feel like there was a lot of push and pull, but it also sort of makes sense. I would have liked more at the ending, but it was hopeful and fitting. I'm just greedy.

**Huge thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Melodie.
589 reviews65 followers
January 25, 2018
*** ARC provided by the author for an honest review **

I thoroughly enjoyed this story from beginning to end. A small town in western North Carolina is home to a magical chocolate shop owned by a young woman and her mother.Embraced by the town, there is even a festival that gives the residents the opportunity to make a wish for their future after having some magical hot chocolate.
The drama is that the shop owner Penelope is having a crisis of faith. Despite the entire town wishing for a healing the previous year, her eight year old daughter continues to be very ill. Add to that her child's father has reappeared after dumping her eight years before.
There are some twists and turns provided by an apothecary table with a magical mind of it's own and other eccentric small town residents.It all makes for a sweet lovely read.

593 reviews7 followers
September 5, 2017
A touching story about love, magic and chocolate. Penelope is attempting to fulfill Ella's (her dying daughter) bucket list. Ella's natural father, Noah, is unaware that she exists as he left town before she was born. Ella's list includes having a dad and family. This story is about magic and believing, sweetened with marvelous chocolate.
Profile Image for Natasa.
1,194 reviews
June 7, 2019
This book wasn’t for me, many of the storylines, such as the romance and the magical chocolate fell flat for me.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
3,038 reviews647 followers
March 26, 2018
Narrated by Brittany Pressley, I became nervous as I first began to listen. Apparently, the cover blinded me to the synopsis.  I missed the fact that Penelope Dalton's daughter, Ella has an inoperable tumor and six months to live. I almost set the audio down. I wasn't sure my heart could take it. But I grabbed some truffles and continued to listen for a spell figuring I'd get out if it got to emotionally messy.  I am so glad that I kept listening because Crispell delivered a heart-warming tale filled with hope, love, and chocolate.

Penelope is a single Mom who runs the Hot Chocolate Café alongside her mother. They live and work in a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Years ago she ate chocolate and dreamt of her future. When she told her boyfriend about their shared future, he panicked and left town taking her heart with him. Consequently, she never told him she was caring his child. When Noah Gregory returns to town to help his brother he realizes he has never stopped loving Penelope and tries to win her back.

Penelope has stopped any treatments for Ella and instead is filling her days with memories. Ella has created a bucket list, and the two are checking off items from the list. Chocolate cake for breakfast, purple hair, and ice skating. But Ella and the enchanted cafe have other ideas. Ella has added make Noah my Dad to her bucket list.

The story that unfolds was filled with healing, hope, chocolate and a small-town I would love to visit again. I loved the cafe particularly its apothecary table. It's drawers provide recipes for what ails you. The chocolates and drinks produced in the cafe do all sorts of things from making you dream about the future to calming your nerves or perhaps finding true love. We get some humor when a couple of boys break into the cafe looking for a recipe.

The romance was a slow-burn despite their previous ties as they learned to trust again. Ella was adorable, and I enjoyed secondary characters like Penelope's mom and Noah's family. While I had truffles on hand, I only teared up few times as the story is filled with heartwarming moments.

My only complaint about the story or should I say characters was Penelope and her decision not to tell Noah about Ella and the length of time it took her to tell him. I understood her reasoning but cannot fathom as a parent doing this to someone.

Brittany Pressley was a new to me narrator, but I enjoyed listening to her. The pacing, tone and character voices pulled me into the story. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a book narrated by her. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
Profile Image for Sharon Huether.
1,477 reviews10 followers
January 8, 2018
A magical tale of a mother ( Penelope) and her daughter. ( Ella).
Penelope has a bucket list for Ella since her days are numbered.
She feels the magic is in the Chocolate and the wonderful recipes found in the old desk.
I received this book from the author for my honest review.
Profile Image for Jae Mod.
1,716 reviews231 followers
December 22, 2017
*** ARC provided by the author for an honest review ***

Love and hot chocolate are at the center of Susan Bishop Crispell's Dreaming in Chocolate, along with circumstances no mother should have to face.

Penelope Dalton is a single mother working alongside her own mother in a chocolate café. The café is a place of magic and wonder, filled with chocolates, caramels, toffee, and hot chocolate. Most of what is sold is believed to have healing powers. But Penelope no longer believes in the magic, not since her eight year old daughter Ella, was given just months to live.

Nine years ago, this so-called magic magic lead Penelope to the love of her life, Noah. However, he left Penelope, never knowing that she was pregnant with his child. Now, nine years later, Noah is back in town to help his family. But the love he had for Penelope is still there and he regrets ever leaving her behind.

Penelope is faced with a hard choice. Does she tell Ella and Noah about each other, or is better that they never know?

This book made me contemplate how I would feel if the situation was mine. I questioned along the way if I would have made the same decisions as Penelope. I just wanted to read to the end. I wanted to find out if Noah and Penelope would ever get back together. And I wanted to find out if Ella might receive the magic that she so needed. A terrific read filled with love and of course, chocolate! Five stars.
Profile Image for Linda Zagon.
1,343 reviews105 followers
December 14, 2017
What an intriguing concept Susan Bishop Crispell, Author, of “Dreaming in Chocolate” has whipped up. Who doesn’t love chocolate, or wishes for that matter? The genres for this story are Fiction, Women’s fiction with an essence, and tad of magic mixed in. The chocolate have a certain magical quality. There is an old apothecary table that has opinions and offers suggestions and recipes. What else can you add to the mix?

Kudos to Susan Bishop Crispell for adding a colorful cast of lovable characters in a quaint community, each with their hopes and dreams. Single mom, Penelope Dalton and her mother run this shop where there is hot chocolate and assorted chocolates to dream for or of. Every year they are represented at the town fair. My favorite character is Ella, Penelope’s 8 year old daughter. Ella has been given 6 months to live, and so far there is no magical ingredient in the chocolate that can save her. Ella is strong willed, determined, courageous, brave, and writes her own bucket list. The most important thing on her bucket list, besides a cat, is finding her mother happiness, when she in no longer here. Could that mean finding her mother the man of her dreams?

This is a delightful, charming , heartwarming story of family, friends, community, love, hope and faith. I would highly recommend this for readers of fiction with a touch of magical realism. I received an ARC of this story for my honest review.
Profile Image for Under the Covers Book Blog.
2,818 reviews1,359 followers
April 14, 2018

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I've not read much women's fiction, I don't tend to gravitate towards it; however, after being captured by the beautiful cover, the mention of chocolate and the hint of magical realism I decided to branch out and give it a try. Unfortunately it didn't work out as well as I was hoping.

My expectations going in, is that it may be a bit of a tear jerker, after all there was a terminally ill child involved, but that wasn't the case. It was actually quite...uplifting and it was hard not to charmed by the Ella, the child in question. My issue was, was that she was the only character I liked in this book. In general I though the characters were shallow and the magical realism aspect was very clumsy.

The magic came in the form of the chocolate that Penelope, Ella's mother, made, which, is a lovely (if not very original) idea. But the way it worked was heavy handed when compared with other books I have read such as Chocolat by Joanne Harris and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. Then there was the characters of Penelope and Noah.

Noah is the unknowing father of Ella who left town before knowing that Penelope was pregnant. And Penelope never decided to enlighten him. Which, for me is unforgivable, as the reason she didn't tell him seemed to stem from a teenage fit of hurt feelings. The book told us that Penelope and Noah had this helpless attraction towards one another, however, I failed to see it and the author failed to show it.

This book wasn't for me, many of the story lines, such as the romance and the magical chocolate fell flat for me. If you want magical realism with some real emotional punch behind it please check out Sarah Addison Allen, her books never fail to amaze me. 

*ARC provided by publisher
Reviewed by Suzanne❤ ♡ Don't want to miss any of our posts? Subscribe to our blog by email! ♡ ❤
Profile Image for Arlena.
3,170 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2018
Title: Dreaming in Chocolate
Author: Susan Bishop Crispell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five

"Dreaming in Chocolate" by Susan Bishop Crispell

My Thoughts.....

It was quite interesting the way this author puts together this fictional story of "Dreaming in Chocolate' that has a mix of magical realism that deals with the healing powers of its chocolates. We find the story somewhat sad in that...well let me say Penelope Dalton is a single mother who works with her mother at the chocolate cafe. Truly Penelope mom's recipes are simply magical.

At this wonderful cafe you will finds a little bit of it all from 'chocolates, caramels, toffee and hot chocolates' which are supposed to have some kind of healing powers. However, with Penelope who has a daughter Ella and has been given six months to live [having a incurable disease] she doesn't believes about this magic any more. Now this story will pull you as we see the daughter Ella who is such a brave little one writes her own bucket list and the thing that stuck me was not only wanted a cat but wanted happiness for her mother so she wouldn't be lonely when she was gone. That part really had me in tears! As one can see by reading this story is about believing, magic and oh yes the sweet chocolates.

We find from the story that love of Penelope's life Noah left her nine years ago before she could tell him of her pregnancy. Now he is back and wow how things get complicated. I will stop her and just say the reader will get a good story of what will Penelope do now...tell Ella about Noah about each other? Now that Noah was back in town will Penelope begin to hope again?

The story is one good read that deals with quite a bit from being a 'heartwarming, delightful story of family, chocolates, magic, friends. love, hope and faith.' If nothing else by the time you finish with this read you will probably have a strong desire for chocolate in almost any form that you can get them! Would I recommend? YES!

Profile Image for Amina Hujdur.
416 reviews22 followers
July 29, 2021
Roman je lijepo osmišljen, ali previše bajkovit za moj ukus. Priča o bolesnoj djevojčici i majci koja se bori da joj posljednji mjeseci života prođu u najljepšoj atmosferi, kvari banalan i neuvjerljiv lik Noe, toliko hiperboliziran da mi je to išlo na nerve.
Toliko oduševljenje koje pokazuje osmogodišnja djevojčica muškarcu od 27 godina mi djeluje neprirodno.
Čitajući roman imala sam utisak kao da gledam holivudsku ljubavnu dramu sa primjesama magije. Dijalozi su razvijeni kao da su dio scenarija i poglavlja se završavaju kao u filmskim scenama.
Roman zaslužuje solidnu ocjenu, jer se brzo čita i nije naporan bez obzira na tematiku i, naravno, ima hepiend, pa ko voli sladunjave pričice neka i ovaj roman stavi na listu.
1,276 reviews5 followers
October 24, 2017
This book surprised me. It was a simple story about a single mom with a dying child who has made a bucket list. Simple right? not so much. Also involved is a magical table that gives the mom and her mom recipes that are magical. Want to know what someone thinks, try the caramel - make a wish - the chocolate does it every time. When the dad comes back into the picture, it gets complicated, as Penelope does not want to risk her heart again. Plus the child, Elle, is delightful. She brought quite a few smiles to me as I read. A very heartwarming story that I hated to see end. I will look for more of this author's books.
I got this book from NetGalley for an honest review
223 reviews
October 19, 2017
I won this book on Goodreads.. Once I started reading this book chapter after chapter I became more involved. But suddenly the book ended leaving me wanting more and with many unanswered questions.. Perhaps a book 2????
Penelope owned a Chocolate Shoppe with her mother that was said to have magical candy recipes but when Penelope's dearest wish didn't come true she began to doubt their powers until Noah came back to town..Could she dare to hope again??
190 reviews
October 3, 2017
This is the first book I have read by this author, but I loved this book. It is a charming story about chocolate, magic & love. This is the perfect book to read during the holidays. It will make you want to have a cup of hot cocoa & curl up in front of the fire while you read it too! Not to mention, how can you resist the title of this book?!?
Profile Image for Gaele.
4,079 reviews80 followers
February 8, 2018
Set in a small North Carolina town, the story focuses on a chocolate café, The Chocolate Cottage, the magic it conjures with the help of an ancient apothecary cabinet and the bucket list of an eight year old girl. Penelope and her mother Sabina have mixed and dispensed the magical chocolate as well as other ‘normal’ confections for years: providing clarity, courage, hope and showing true love to their customers, and culminating in a Winter Solstice festival where their “Kismet” hot cocoa is available, a boost to fate and self-determination. But last year’s festival didn’t change Penelope’s fate – Ella is still ill and indications are that she’ll be gone soon. Uncertain about the ‘magic’, angry at the fates and scared about just how she’ll survive without Ella; having been the focus of her life and happiness since she was born. Penelope is sure the magic has either tricked her or let her down, again, just as it had when she was a teenager in love with a man who left.

Adding to her worries, her mother Sabina is using the magical chocolates to retreat into a time when she was happy: before Penelope’s father died, and the cabinet keeps giving her recipes and ingredients for magical confections that she doesn’t want. Perhaps if the ‘one who got away’ hadn’t returned to town to help out his brother, and his niece wasn’t Ella’s newest (and most special) friend, she’d be able to survive the alternating hits of laughter and terror that come when she thinks of Ella. While Noah ran off years ago in search of “more”, he’s never forgotten Penelope, and he’s wanting to explore what may be there – once he can prove to her that he’s changed. But he may never get the chance.

Add in the moments from Ella’s bucket list and the mixed emotions of joy in Ella’s excitement when another check is added to the realization that only a few more items exist, the story has a poignancy that grabs you by the throat, not entirely ever letting go. When Ella’s sights (and list) turn to Noah with the help of a new “pendant’ that the apothecary table granted her, and her determination to throw her mother and Noah together at every opportunity, Penelope’s skepticism about the magic and the table’s ability to provide what is needed at the right time is waning, the upcoming festival, her sharing a heretofore untold truth about the state of Ella’s health with the town, and the meddling of two eight year olds and some specially crafted cocoa bring the story to a close in ways unexpected and wholly welcome.

As with her first story I read, The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, Crispell puts the magic and the changes brought by the hope of its recipients at the forefront: using the questions and doubts as a counterpoint: allowing the wonder and the ‘what if’ to capture the reader’s imagination. Easy to lose yourself in with the sense of family, community and emotions, it’s a book to hide away with while the winter rages outside.

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Review first appeared at I am, Indeed
Profile Image for Booksandchinooks (Laurie).
682 reviews72 followers
February 15, 2018
I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press #partner for an honest review. This is a beautifully written book with very likeable characters. I am not a reader of books with components of magic so I had to overcome my skepticism and just enjoy the book. Penelope and her mother run a shop that sells chocolates and hot chocolate. There are various magical benefits to some of the chocolate that they sell. This is well known around the community and the townspeople come looking for chocolate to fit their various needs. Unfortunately none of the magic is working for the thing that Penelope most wants it to. Penelope’s eight year old daughter, Ella, has a terminal medical condition and has only been given six months to live. Ella has written a bucket list of the things she wants to do in the time she has left. At the top of the list is that she wants a father. Penelope was a teenager when she became pregnant and never told Noah he was going to be a father. He wanted to leave their small town and move on with his life and Penelope didn’t want to hold him back. Now Noah has returned and Ella is ecstatic to have the father she has dreamed of. Will Penelope, Noah, and Ella be able to become the family that she hopes for before it is too late? I enjoyed this book and the writing was very ‘magical’. I will be looking for more from this author.
Profile Image for Ann.
5,202 reviews60 followers
March 8, 2018
This story returns to wishing and magic bakery items. Penelope's daughter, Ella has a brain tumor and doctors aren't very optimistic. Penelope is doing a bucket list for the two of them with the help of her mother but Ella has one request of her own. A dad who will love both of them. Ella's dad is back in town and she has picked him to fill the bill. The story ending is open, hopefully another book will bring a bright and happy ending. I enjoy Ms. Crispell's both because she adds just a hint of magic that make an enjoyable read. It would be a perfect book if she included some good chocolate recipes from the bakery.
Profile Image for Margaret Yelton.
1,839 reviews32 followers
June 14, 2019
Dreaming in Chocolate was such an amazing and sweet story. Well written, with a storyline that pulls at your heartstrings. What do you do, when your child is dying? You do your best to make all her dreams come true. I read this book in a couple hours, and would recommend it to anyone
Profile Image for Bibi.
46 reviews
December 9, 2020
Od prve stranice sam se transportovala u Malarki i ostala tamo do zadnje. Čarobno, kao da sam i sama deo knjige. 🥰
Profile Image for Orly Konig.
Author 2 books190 followers
February 22, 2018
A delightful book that will have you reaching for chocolate and wishing the magic was real! Susan Bishop Crispell has whipped up a confection that will melt your heart and leave you rooting for all of the characters.

And I really want that apothecary table! :-)
Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,575 reviews125 followers
February 28, 2018
Woman (Penelope) owns a magical chocolate shop, yet can't cure her own daughter's (Ella) inoperable brain tumor.

I very much enjoyed this story about Penelope, a mom who has tried everything to save her sick daughter, Ella, from an inoperable brain tumor. And hello, who can resist plain chocolate, let alone magical chocolate?!? Penelope owns the Chocolate Cottage which sells...

"Espresso truffles that gave a jolt of energy. Jasmine tea caramels that calmed frenzied nerves. Spicy hot chocolate that sparked dreams of true love."

... but why can't the magic apothecary table provide a cure for her daughter's tumor?

Meanwhile, Ella's biological father, Noah, is back in town and even though she has no idea who he really is, she is inexplicably drawn to him. Penelope is, too, but fights her feelings for him. Is the magical chocolate at work again? Will they really have a future together this time as the magical chocolate predicted all those years ago? Find out in this sweet and hopeful love story.

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for a free ARC of this book! All opinions are my own.

Location: Malarkey, North Carolina

3.5 stars

"With one taste of their chocolates, people dreamed of their futures and reveled in temporary bouts of happiness and luck to get them through the rough times."
Profile Image for Suze.
1,878 reviews1,310 followers
May 2, 2018
Penelope and her mother own a chocolate café. They sell all kinds of delicious treats and hot chocolate. There's something special about their shop, they have a magical apothecary table that gives them any recipe they could ever need. The inhabitants of Malarkey buy the chocolate for various reasons, but a lot of them want to find true love. Penelope used to love her business, but she's having doubts. The table hasn't granted her biggest wish and this breaks her heart. Can she still put her trust in magic while it doesn't bring her the happiness she craves?

Penelope has an eight-year-old daughter. Ella is cheerful and wise, but she's also the reason Penelope worries about the future. Together with Ella, Penelope is working on a bucket list. On this list there's one wish that proves to be difficult, finding Ella a dad. Noah, the love of Penelope's life, left her before she could tell him about her pregnancy. Nobody knows who Ella's father is and Penelope isn't ready for people to find out. When Noah's back in town, she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions. He would love to rekindle their friendship, but Penelope isn't ready for the man who deeply hurt her to be back in her life. However, Ella has different plans and can be very convincing. Will the magic of her shop guide Penelope through this tumultuous time?

Dreaming in Chocolate is a brilliant moving story. The combination of chocolate and magic is absolutely wonderful. It's a great idea that Susan Bishop Crispell combines with much creativity and a flawless execution that works incredibly well. I loved how magic can change lives. Penelope's constant battle with her beliefs, her grief and her hopes fascinated me from the beginning. Ella is such a cute little girl and she and Penelope have a special bond. Penelope would do anything for her daughter and her unconditional love and the pain of loving someone so much it hurts are radiating off the pages. Susan Bishop Crispell describes Penelope's feelings in a gorgeous open way. I liked the balance between sadness, cheerfulness and sweetness, it's absolutely amazing.

Dreaming in Chocolate is a delicious bittersweet story. I loved Susan Bishop Crispell's vivid descriptions of all the tasty treats that are being sold in the chocolate café. I enjoyed reading about every single customer, I loved the family aspect of the story and I really liked the romance as well. Together they're making Dreaming in Chocolate a true gem to read. It's such a beautiful enchanting story filled with magic and love.
Profile Image for Sue .
1,653 reviews97 followers
March 11, 2018
This is a novel about a mother, daughter and granddaughter in a small town in NC. Mother and daughter own a chocolate shop and the chocolate they make has magical powers. We all know about the healing that chocolate brings us but this chocolate has even more magic!

Penelope is 27 years old and an unwed parent of her 8 year old daughter Ella. Penelope no longer believes in the magic from the chocolate because even magic can't find a cure for Ella, who has a brain tumor and 6 months to live. Ella is a wonderful character who is working on a bucket list of things that she wants to do before she dies - things like dye her hair and get a best friend. Even though she is crossing things off her list, she can't get the main item crossed off - she wants to find a boyfriend for her mom so that she won't miss Ella so much after she dies. Then Noah comes to town. He was Penelope's first love and the father of Ella - even though Penelope had never told him or anyone else that he was the dad. Ella falls in love with him and decides that Noah should be her mom's boyfriend. Will the chocolate from the shop help make this happen?

I loved the characters - especially Ella. She knew that she was dying yet kept an upbeat attitude toward life. Even though this could have made this book very sad, Ella was very uplifting. This book has it all - family, friends, love and most importantly MAGIC!
Profile Image for Suzanne.
1,643 reviews36 followers
November 2, 2017
Like the perfect chocolate candies it describes, this book manages to deftly balance its component parts so that nothing overwhelms. Readers aren't required to commit entirely to a tale of a young child with an incurable disease, a romance between two lovers fighting their fate, or a widow choosing an altered state rather than face her loneliness. Each of those stories alone has their strengths and pitfalls, when combined with a magical desk that produces recipes for, yes, magical candies, then the entire book takes on a much different quality. It brims with a different pulse and much more enthusiasm and joy than those tales might suggest. It is a winning combination that will leave readers with a strong desire for chocolate, in almost any form. I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Amy (TheSouthernGirlReads).
547 reviews135 followers
January 30, 2018

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the #free Netgalley copy.
This is for real the sweetest ( I mean that literally) book I have read in a long time. I loved this little story based right here in my home state of North Carolina.
The story begins many years ago when boy meets girl. Girl drinks magical hot chocolate to "see" her true love. Boy freaks out and leaves town. One minor problem. Girl is pregnant with their child. Fast forward eight years. Penelope is running a magic chocolate shop while raising her terminally ill daughter, Emma. Noah comes back into town...and back into her life. Will the magic prevail?
I adored this book. It warmed my heart. I fell in love with the characters and the story as a whole. My only complaint was the weight I gained due to the chocolate cravings 😂.
A solid four 🍬🍬🍬🍬.
Profile Image for Piepie | The Napping Bibliophile.
1,938 reviews139 followers
February 2, 2018
Thank you, Netgalley, for this arc!

This book was fun - I loved all the chocolate and the fun, festival, family-friendly atmosphere! My heart broke for Sabina, Penelope's mom, as she continued to grieve for her husband. I'm not quite sure why Penelope was so hard on Noah. Not telling him that they had a child together, and then highly doubting he was going to stick around in town. I loved the scene toward the end where Noah babysits Ella and they bake cookies together. The ending, to me, ended abruptly, very open-ended, but with Noah and Penelope's dreams you can guess what happens. A very sweet story at its core!
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 19 books410 followers
October 7, 2017
I want a magic apothecary table!

When I picked this book up, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I loved every minute of it. The writing has an almost dreamy quality that matches the tone of the book. The characters tug at your heartstrings from the beginning. It was so good, I kept wanting to slow down and really savor it so it wouldn't end, just like a steaming mug of rich hot chocolate.

Dreaming in Chocolate was a delight from start to finish. Can't wait to read Crispell's other books.

***I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***
Profile Image for Eileen (BookCatPin).
743 reviews194 followers
February 19, 2018
I had really enjoyed Ms. Crispell's debut, The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, last year so naturally when I heard about her sophomore book I knew I had to read it. Dreaming in Chocolate is a heartbreakingly honest read.

I'm not a fan of magical realism but Dreaming in Chocolate presented the magical aspect in a simple way. The thought of magic working in real life took some getting used to but I loved how the magic of the chocolates were portrayed as a possibility only. One had to want it for it come true.

Penelope's faith in her chocolates' magic was near nonexistent knowing her daughter was dying despite everyone's wishes for Ella to get better. Given her previous heartache (Noah) it was easy to understand why Penelope was so guarded. However she does not let her crushing reality defeat her as she puts all of herself into making her daughter happy.

"Sometimes reality is too much to bear."

"...happiness was a choice..."
(eARC, Loc 2760-2764).

I'm a big fan of second chance romances and this one was full of purpose. The story doesn't go too much into Penelope and Noah's past choosing to focus on the present happenings. When Noah, the guy who broke her heart who also happens to be the father of her child, returned to town, Penelope was determined to keep him at a distance. Resistance proved to be futile as he was as charming as ever. In addition, Noah made a most admirable effort to show Penelope he wanted a place by her and Ella's side.

All across the story there was that anticipation of Noah finding out his relations to Ella. I waited with bated breath. When the reveal finally came, it fell flat. Maybe it's my fault for letting my drama meter go wild but I was hoping for more reaction from all the characters. In the grand scheme of things, the reveal let down was small compared to Noah's heartfelt willingness to accept the truth.

I was a tinsy bit stunned by the ending but it was by no means a bad one. Dreaming in Chocolate is a hopeful tale of love and family and most importantly in the power of believing. A magical read indeed.
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