Sunday, April 26, 2020

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast by Danielle Hawkins

When I was trying to come up with a D topic for my Alphabet post this week, one of the options that I was considering was D for Danielle Hawkins given that I have read two of her books (this one and When It All Went to Custard) over the last couple of months.  I ended up going with an Anzac Day tribute instead, but it can't hurt to still try and write a review can it? Since I started blogging again this year, reviews are possibly the hardest thing to get back in the habit of writing for me.

About 3 years ago Bree from All The Books I Can Read and I met up for a coffee and then we went on a bit of a drive around the local area. As is normal for all book lovers (right?) one of the stops was at a newly opened community library. During the course of that drive and library visit, she recommended this book to me, amongst others (which I know because I mentioned it on a Litsy post at the time). Three years later, I am happy to confirm that she was indeed correct. This was a great book as evidenced by the fact that I started it at 3am one night when I couldn't sleep and finished it at 1.30am the next night because I couldn't put it down, and therefore didn't sleep.

Helen McNeil is a vet in a small town in New Zealand. She's done the almost obligatory trip to live in the UK with her former partner, but now she is home, trying to reestablish her career. She came back to the small town she grew up in, to the people who know her best including her extended family nearby.

One night she reluctantly goes to a party. In the course of trying to get away from an annoying person she literally trips over the legs of a man. Helen is oblivious as to his identity so she is a bit shocked learn that he is Mark Tipene, world famous rugby player and All Blacks star. When Mark turns up at her workplace the next day to ask her on a date, Helen is a bit reluctant but agrees, warning him that the date might get interrupted because she is on call.

What follows is one of the more unusual scenes I've read where Helen gets called out and has to remove a dead calf from inside a cow. Danielle Hawkins is a vet when she is not writing, and both in this first date scene and a couple of other scenes in the book, she is not afraid to share the details of what it is she does.  I had NO idea that vets did that kind of thing in the services they provide. If assisting with that kind of procedure doesn't scare Mark off, then really not much will.

Despite Helen's demanding work schedule during a busy time of the year and Mark's hectic rugby and sponsorship appearances, they start a fledgling relationship. Helen is very conscious of the fact that she is not the typical WAG type that Mark has been associated with in the past and there were times when these insecurities started to get in the way. Then things change, and it is more her stubborness and independent streak that cause some issues. Of course, Mark has his own baggage too.

Don't be put off by the rugby part of this story. While there are mentions of Helen having to gain a sudden interest in the game and of matches being played, you won't be too lost if you don't know much about rugby. I know enough to watch a game and some basic understanding but don't ask me to explain anything.

I wanted to give a shout out to the secondary characters in this book. The town is populated by an interesting set of characters, from the grumpy farmers to Helen's workmates. I did love the friendships portrayed in this book including Helen's cousin, her best friend and Mark's team captain and his wife. I also loved Helen's relationship with her stepmother and much younger stepsisters who were adorable.

I have read many Aussie rural romances over the years,but these two books by Danielle Hawkins are the only ones I recall having read that are set in New Zealand. And they do feel different. There's not so much red dust for starters! I do find Hawkins a very easy to read author. There is something in her author voice that is very comforting. There's humour, emotion and depth. I am very much looking forward to reading her next book and working my way through her remaining backlist.

And a word about the title! A long time ago I shared a post about one memorable occasion when I had chocolate cake for breakfast. I am not going to suggest that is the ONLY time I've ever had chocolate cake for breakfast because yum!!! That wouldn't be true but it certainly was a noteworthy occasion!

Rating 4.5/5

Description from Goodreads

Helen McNeil is a vet in the small rural town of Broadview. While taking evasive action from a dull girl at a party one night she falls over - and fails to recognise - national sporting hero, Mark Tipene. For some mysterious reason Helen never really grasps, Mark finds this charming and appears the next day at the front counter of the vet clinic to ask her out.
A whirlwind romance follows and everything is going swimmingly until one little hiccup changes everything...
Chocolate Cake for Breakfast is the funny and heart-warming story of the pros and cons of dating a man whose shirtless picture adorns a wall in every second lunchroom in the country, of calving cows and crazy cat ladies, and of doing your best when life takes an unexpected turn.


  1. YES! Glad you (finally!) loved this too :)

    1. Finally is a bit harsh! It only took me 3 years! lol

  2. This sounds like a fun romance and what's wrong with chocolate cake for breakfast every once in a while right? :) Loved reading about your get together with Bree. I cannot wait until we can go back to bookstores.

    1. I agree Iliana! Every now and again must be fine!

  3. First, I was drawn to the tights. Then the New Zealand setting. And then the fact that the author shares her inside look at being a vet. Adding this to my list. Looks fun.

    1. I hope you enjoy it if you do get to read it Stacy