Reviewed by Joanne L.

Are you familiar with the movie, White Christmas? There is a scene where Emma, the housekeeper of the Columbia Inn (played by Mary Wickes), is overwhelmed with emotion – and speaks of the big ‘schmaltz’ of the coming production. As I read Sweet Misfortune, I found it to be a big schmaltz…lots of bits and pieces inserted to tug upon my heart strings.

Kevin Alan Milne, the author, gives us a beautiful woman chocolatier with a tragic past. She has a grim view on life that distances her from others. Milne adds a handsome podiatrist (yes, that went a bit beyond formulaic) who is attracted to her, and sets the story in rainy Seattle. There are mistakes and misunderstandings, secondary characters who have overcome adversity with poignancy and grace, and an advert in the local paper to find true voices that define what happiness is.

Sophia Jones is the beautiful woman with a chocolate shop. She lost her parents in a car accident in the Seattle rains when she was nine years old. For twenty years she has blamed herself for the accident and lived in constant anticipation of disappointment. When her foster mom sets her up on a blind date with a podiatrist, Garrett – she resists and denies and then slowly succumbs to love.

Love, which of course ends in disappointment when Garrett cancels the wedding with no explanation.

Jump ahead about a year and Sophie is writing clever misfortunes and placing them in her misfortune cookies, an inedible cookie made with the bitterest of chocolate. The idea for these cookies was inspired by her luckless relationship. The cookies become a big hit with her customers; their messages were kind of the despair.com of cookies. This was the premise of the book that had appealed to me; the ability to influence others with a bit of baked in magical realism.

[amazonify]1599952971[/amazonify]Sophie never developed into a character that I cared about though. Her cookies and their audience were only lightly touched upon and I found her to be cold and off-putting with her constant negativity. The premise that the author used to justify her guilt over the accident also seemed forced and very incongruent with her career choice.

The story moves along predictably with the fiancé attempting to return and explain, and Sophie avoiding and being sour. It then turns out that not only was the car accident twenty years ago Sophie’s fault, there are a whole slew of people who also feel guilty about it and finally come clean, as though being washed clean by the Seattle rains.

And that was just a bit too much schmaltz for me.

Joanne is an organization development and human resources professional with a business background living in Ohio. She has lived in Europe, Africa (including her Peace Corps service in South Africa), and arround the United States. She loves to plays volleyball, read, write, and has a cat named Ender.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Center Street. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.