Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Mark hopes his boredom with his current job will be alleviated by a short stint in Basel, Switzerland. When he meets Steffen, who struck out on his own from an old-money family to establish an IT firm, Mark expects some fun, great sex, and a clean break when his job is done. The arrangement is perfect for Steffen, who has been content with casual after a betrayal—and has a taste for British men after attending university in the UK. But as they explore the city’s rich history and traditions, Mark begins to see Steffen as much more than a tour guide with benefits. If he isn’t careful, the trip meant to break the lull in his career might end up breaking his heart instead….
I’m very fond of Rebecca Cohen’s stories, from historical romances of The Crofton Chronicles to the contemporary Treading the Boards series, she always brings something different, a decided depth and twist to her novels. So I was interested to see where her new story, Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks, would take me. Surprisingly it took me to her home.
As the author states in her forward, Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks is as much a love letter to Basel, Switzerland as it is a contemporary romance. That’s so true. Rebecca Cohen’s love for her adopted city shines through every scene, every description, glowing like a adoring spotlight over this historical place that’s the location for Mark and Steffen’s love story. I have to admit I was googling as fast as I was reading, so alluring and warm did Basel become in my mind. It is a fully formed main character, as much as Mark and Steffen, enfolding them both with the culture, cobbled streets, sounds, and even flavors of Basel itself. I want to go so badly my fingers are itching to hit Priceline.com or whatever link, book and go!
And with all that, it doesn’t overshine the easy, sweet romance of Mark and Steffen who fall in love over a simple arrangement and look like they have found their HEA. Normally I don’t do any sort of instant love. But here with Mark and Steffen, both men are older, coming out of relationships where they can define what didn’t work, and know what they want. In other words, they are ready. Right age, right timing. It happens that way. And the author makes it believable. I believed not only in both men, their different personalities, their workplaces, everything. Oh and the differences in where they lived!
I liked knowing where they took the train to, what stations they got off at. It gave me a real feel for the city. The walk to the Zoo and the penguins! It made the book feel intimate and authentic. Oh, and the Carnival in Basel, the Basler Fasnacht, along with the 4am Morgestraich, a parade unlike any other. And so much more. The reader is right there, watching with Mark and Steffen, laughing and amazed!
Really, it’s hard to remember this story is only 132 pages.
But every page is a jewel. Of romance, of loving information conveyed to Mark and the reader about Basel, and a terrific love story as well. Hard to beat that! If you love contemporary romance and travel too, Not All Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks
by Rebecca Cohen is a great combination of both. Pick it up. I highly recommend it. And yes, I’d love to return and visit them again.
Cover Design: Brooke Albrecht. What a great cover. Incorporates both Basel and a model that’s the character. Love it.
Dreamspinner Press’ World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
ebook, 132 pages
Expected publication: January 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press