I have to admit, when I read The Chocolate Thief my primary reaction was "meh". I didn't see the charm or the romance, and I honestly found both protagonists somewhat unappealing. This book, however, was a lot closer to what I had hoped the series would be.
Magalie is happy to have a place in her aunts' tea shop, serving up hot chocolate and sincere wishes to the patrons of the witch themed establishment. So when famous pastry chef Phillipe Lyonnais opens a new shop just down the street, it's only natural that she feel threatened. What's more disturbing, however, is the interest that Phillipe has taken in Magalie--sending her hand crafted pastries to express his growing affections.
The setting is so very, very charming. The tea shop is a quirky haven for those in need of one, and it's exactly the sort of place I could see myself visiting time and time again. The elaborate edible window displays drew me in by themselves, but what really got me was the magic. Both Magalie and her aunts pour wishes, curses, and magic into their work. It's done in such a way that it's left up to the reader to decide whether the magic is real or only pretend. Magalie constantly tells herself that she's just pretending, but at the same time she takes her wishes seriously. That's what got me to like her as a character--the fact that she genuinely wants the best for people, and that she's found this sense of self worth in the simple act of wishing happiness.
Magalie is, in general, both well written and likeable. He unstable childhood has left her desperate to carve out a home for herself. She's been so busy digging in roots in the tea shop that she's forgotten to branch out and let new things into her life, and that is where Phillipe comes in. Even beside the romantic development, however, Magalie, undergoes a great deal of personal growth--learning to make the city her own and feel comfortable outside her little corner of the world.
Phillipe undergoes a lot less development, and he is not as well written, but he is still likeable in many ways. I liked that he kept trying to communicate with Magalie via his pastries. His primary character flaws are arrogance and overbearingness, which I could totally buy. He's very much the type A personality you'd expect a top ranking Parisian chef to be. The biggest flaw in the book was his initial inability to understand or communicate with Magalie at the most basic level. So many negative feelings could have easily been resolved through two minutes of conversation and Phillipe taking half a minute to think before he acts.
Overall this is a very sexy, very appetizing read. It will make you want hot chocolate and pastries, and it will make you long to visit Paris. While book 1 didn't have much to recommend it, this is one that I hope more readers will discover and enjoy. 4 stars.