cover image Julia's Chocolates

Julia's Chocolates

Cathy Lamb. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $14 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-1462-1

The quirky debut romance from Lamb opens as Julia Bennett flees the Boston altar where her blueblood abuser fiance, Robert Stanfield III, awaits her. She leaves her wedding gown in a North Dakota tree, and arrives in the tiny town of Golden, Oregon to take refuge with her beloved Aunt Lydia. As Julia slowly returns to a semblance of normalcy, Lydia's eccentric friends soon become Julia's near and dear as well: minister's wife Lara, psychic Caroline and abused wife Katie all have their own hidden pains, to which Julia can relate. Robert, who hit her and made her feel bad about her body, is never far from her thoughts, nor is her incapacitating ""Dread Disease""-a feeling of panic she can't name. The dialogue is funny and bawdy: ""Don't cry, love! You escaped a life's prison sentence with King Prick."" Julia's struggles with people's interest in her chocolate-making, and in her person, make her a winningly flawed heroine, and there is well-deserved come-uppance for abusers of all types.