ARC Review: Secrets of the Chocolate House (Found Things #2) by Paula Brackston

ARC Featured Image - Found Things 2 - Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston

Flora Reviews… Secrets of the Chocolate House (Found Things #2) by Paula Brackston. Thanks to the publishers (St Martin’s Pressfor the advanced eBook.

Read: 16th – 21st October 2019

Publication Date: 22nd October 2019

Quote from Secrets of the Chocolate House

She [Xanthe] had come to accept that she and Samuel could never be together.

What she had felt for him, and he for her, she believed to be real, but she knew those feelings had been heightened by the danger surrounding the circumstances in which they had met.

My Overall Rating: 4/5

Plot: 3/5 – Flow: 4/5 – Character Development: 5/5 – World Building: 5/5

What’s Secrets of the Chocolate House about?

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ARC Review: Secrets of the Chocolate House (Found Things #2) by Paula BrackstonMy Rating:
Title: Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston
Series: Found Things #2
on 22 October, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal Romance (PNR)
Narrator: Marisa Calin
Length: 12 hours 17 minutes
No. of Pages: 320

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she'll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed?

The second novel in a bewitching series "brimming with charm and charisma" that will make "fans of Outlander rejoice!" (Woman's World Magazine)
New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s The Little Shop of Found Things was called “a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House.

Source: ARC

I received this ARC for free in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't affect my opinion of the book or influence the content of my review.

Review Format: Audiobook, eBook
Purchase Links: Books2Read - Universal eBook Link ¦ Amazon* ¦ Audible* ¦*

What did I like about Secrets of the Chocolate House?

Although historical fiction isn’t my usual choice of reading material, I have read a couple of Ms Brackston’s historical mysteries now and really enjoyed them. Ms Brackston captivates me with her beautiful and descriptive use of language. The prose she uses is intelligent, eloquent and very reminiscent of a historical novel; the words chosen and the sentence formation, while still managing to set the scene beautifully in one’s mind is never overly long or heavy.

I liked the way that this intriguing tale was told from Xanthe’s perspective, our female protagonist, and that we learnt a little bit more about her gift. As my regular followers will know, I always enjoy a story more when the lead female character is intelligent, resourceful, resilient and has plenty of gumption; in this tale Xanthe Westlake, her mum, Flora and Mistress Louisa Flyte from the 17th century had these traits. Xanthe’s grew in both her knowledge and her inner strength during this adventure which was wonderful to see. However, she didn’t reached her full potential yet in this book, so I’m looking forward to the next one.

I felt that the sad scenes, tense scenes, mysterious scenes and romantic ones were all written particularly well giving us a balanced plot. There’s a wonderful sprinkling of humour throughout too.

I enjoyed that this foray into the past is not a rose-tinted one.

Although this is a work of fiction, the attention to historic detail and the care that was obviously taken when writing her characters made Ms Brackston’s world and the people in it feel very real to me. Life was harsh, political and religious views could be fatal to one’s health and the rules of etiquette numerous. Although I feel that a bit of licence is permitted to aid a fictional tale, too much can turn it into a mockery; Ms Brackston hit the right balance for me.

Secrets of the Chocolate House brought out many emotions while reading.

The story made me rage with indignant frustration, put a soppy smile on my face as well as had me on the edge of my seat holding my breath. I loved the way that the story kept me guessing in both present-day Marlborough and in the 17th century.

Was there anything I disliked about it?

OK, so here’s where I mention the niggles that lead to my overall rating being 4 stars rather than 5.

Historic fiction isn’t my preferred genre.

I think that I have already mentioned in other reviews. 😉 It’s mainly due to the constraining etiquette the characters are forced to live by. As such, it took me a while to shake off my frustrations and read this story without my modern sensibilities screaming. I’ve read some reviews that complained about Xanthe’s reluctance to stay in the past. However, I felt that this was one of the book’s strengths. I certainly couldn’t go back to that era!

While I appreciate that Xanthe has grown since her first foray into the past, I did get frustrated with her handling of certain situations in this book, both in present day Marlborough and the 17th century.

It’s important to remember that this is only the second book in a new series.

I liked that Ms Brackston left enough teasers to continue in subsequent books. BUT. My main gripe is how this book ended; definite cliff-hanger and I’m not a big fan of those.

Basically, what I’m saying is…

I really enjoyed reading this book.

It has everything that I look for in a good story; a mystery or thriller aspect, a sprinkling of romance and a nice balance of gentle humour with the added bonus of being within my favourite genre – paranormal.

I would recommend this book to fans of mystery stories, historical fiction and paranormal tales. Readers of YA novels would enjoy it too as there’s no explicit sexual content and only a handful of expletives. Having said that, some of the beliefs, customs and laws of 17th century England may cause offence to your modern sensibilities. 😉

Has my review of SECRETS OF THE CHOCOLATE HOUSE (FOUND THINGS #2) encouraged you to find out more? Click on any of the links to check out the book yourself. Keep reading to find out more about the series and its author.

Found Things Series

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston brings her trademark blend of magic and romance to her Found Things series, written in the tradition of Outlander.

Xanthe Westlake has always been able to sense the stories that some antiques hold, but it isn’t until she’s finding stock for her and her mother’s new shop in the small English town of Marlborough that she finds one that allows her to travel back through the centuries to its time.

Beginning with The Little Shop of Found Things, Xanthe learns more about herself and her abilities as she discovers more antiques she connects with and rights the wrongs in their pasts.

Books in the Series

Buy FOUND THINGS in print, eBook and audio formats through the usual sources, including:

 Amazon UK ¦ Amazon US ¦ The Book Depository ¦ Audible ¦ Foyles ¦ Waterstones

About Paula Brackston

Author - Paula Brackston

Paula Brackston lives in a wild, mountainous part of Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. Before becoming a writer, Paula tried her hand at various career paths, with mixed success. These included working as a groom on a racing yard, as a travel agent, a secretary, an English teacher, and a goat herd. Everyone involved (particularly the goats) is very relieved that she has now found a job she is actually able to do properly.

When not hunched over her keyboard in her tiny office under the stairs, Paula is dragged outside by her children to play Swedish tennis on the vertiginous slopes which surround them. She also enjoys being walked by the dog, hacking through weeds in the vegetable patch, or sitting by the pond with a glass of wine. Most of the inspiration for her writing comes from stomping about on the mountains being serenaded by skylarks and buzzards.

In 2007 Paula was shortlisted in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book 'Nutters' (writing as PJ Davy) was shortlisted for the Mind Book Award, and she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme.

Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read my review. I hope that I’ve has tempted you to add Secrets of the Chocolate House to your ever-growing TBR pile. 😉

signature graphic. Happy reading from flora image sitting on books

I love the gentle magical realism of Paula’s books. She’s one of the amazing authors listed on my favourites page. Have you read any of her books yet?

Flora x

About Me

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog -

(5) Comments

  1. […] book reviews: The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride by Kristen Painter ~ Custodian by Montana Ash ~ Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston ~ Things She’s Seen by Pat Esden ~ The Werewolf Meets His Match by Kristen […]

  2. I’ve been looking forward to this review! And it sounds perfect. I need to get started on this series. 🙂 Although, I am not a fan of a cliffhanger ending either. Great review!

    1. Thanks Erin. I understand leaving threads handing to encourage us to read the subsequent books but it’s those life or death, perilous cliffhangers that I really can’t stand. 🙁

  3. Oh, this cover is so pretty! It makes me want a cup of tea. I’d love to live in a cottage style house like that too.

    1. I know, Elaine, the covers of all of Paula Brackston’s books are just gorgeous.

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