Keep your competition close…and your heart even closer.

When Nevada Parker travels to Marietta, Montana, she anticipates enough peace and quiet to finish her PhD dissertation. Cupidville turns out to be anything but quiet. In fact, it looks like Valentine’s Day—her least favorite holiday—exploded all over the small town.

Among the sea of red hearts, “Be Mine” signs, and pink, pink, pink, Nevada spots a flyer for a multi-day race called The Valentine Quest. The grand prize—a luxury tropical vacation—would be the perfect welcome-home gift for her brother who’s leaving the military.

Dustin Decker sure could use a break from giving city slickers sleigh rides—and from the now ex-girlfriend who issued an ultimatum. Even with a bum knee from his bull riding days, the race’s grand prize is as good as his—until he realizes he needs a partner for some of the more complicated tasks.

He makes a strategic pact with the prim, bookish Nevada. But with a kiss, their unlikely alliance turns into something more…and soon racing isn’t the only thing on their minds. As the finish line nears, they must decide if the grand prize is worth more than what they’ve found together…or if one of them will walk away empty handed—and broken hearted.

Titles in the Love at the Chocolate Shop series include:  Melt My Heart, CowboyA Thankful HeartMontana Secret SantaThe Chocolate CureThe Valentine Quest – Charmed by Chocolate – The Chocolate Comeback

Title:  The Valentine Quest
Series:  Love at the Chocolate Shop #6
Author:  Melissa McClone
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  February 2, 2017
Publisher:  Tule Publishing
My Rating:  4.5 stars

Sometimes I can imagine Cupid hovering over in a corner, surveying the surroundings looking for his latest victims… ah, potential couples, yeah that’s what I meant, and thinking to himself “Yeah.  Those two.  Total opposites, not looking for or believing in love.  I’ll show them what love is all about, piece of cake… chocolate cake of course.”

On the surface Nevada and Dustin could not be further apart on much of anything.  He’s a retired rodeo cowboy now working as a ranch hand with a bum knee.  A bit cocky, a little arrogant and completely lost without his rodeo career to define him as a winner still.  He’s watched that love thing dissolve with his parents and never intends to go there.  She’s about as nerdy as one can get, book smart but maybe not life smart, shyness hides behind an intelligence that some find intimidating.  One really bad, painful experience has proven to her that love is simply not something she’s willing to take a chance on ever again.  All the hearts and pink decorations in the world will not change her mind.  Yep, totally opposites except in their shared belief that love is for fools – and they are not about to be foolish.  Oh, Cupid, can you ever pick ’em.  *mischievous grin*

There is one thing that these two share right away – the desire for that vacation grand prize for winning The Valentine Quest.  Trouble is, not all of the quest can be done alone and they need a partner, someone who knows the rules, keeps their sight on the grand prize and won’t let emotions get in the way… at all.  Sounds like Nevada and Dustin make perfect partners – now can they let themselves be perfect for each other lovers and let the past go to live and love in the right now, and maybe the future.

I enjoyed The Valentine Quest so much.  We get the chance to catch up a bit on the underlying story line threads that are woven throughout all the stories, visit a little with past couples, try to figure out who the anonymous donor with deep pockets truly is, and watch a man and woman discover that love doesn’t have to be hurtful if it’s shared with the right person.  Oh, there are going to be bumps along the romantic road for Dustin and Nevada, nothing worth while is truly easy.  But they stick, they try, they work on it until loving each other is as natural as a love for chocolate.  I like this couple, and I believe in the end that they’re going to beat the odds of their pasts and make it.  Sometimes what you need is hope, with a bit of that just about anything is possible.

Love at the Chocolate Shop is one of those series where yes, each story “could” stand on it’s own as an enjoyable romance.  But with a few story threads that continue in the background of most of the stories, I personally believe that this is a series best enjoyed by following from the beginning.

I would definitely recommend this title and this series to any Romance reader who enjoys a solid, good story, likable couples, engaging secondary characters… oh, and a love for chocolate.  Indulge a bit and enjoy.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available for the Kindle