Take a lonely thirteen year old from Scotland, combine with four very different new stepsisters, and add one gorgeous but already taken love interest. Stir it all together, and you've got Cherry Crush, the first book in a super sweet new series from Cathy Cassidy.
When loner Cherry Costelloe's dad falls in love with Charlotte Tanberry - who already has four daughters of her own - the couple decide to move in together and start a family business making exquisite handmade chocolates. While Cherry soon finds a connection with three of her new sisters, the eldest - the beautiful but not-so-sweet Honey - makes it clear she doesn't want anything to do with the Scottish newcomers. And Cherry's crush on the swoonworthy Shay Fletcher doesn't help matters, especially since he's her new arch-enemy's boyfriend. Cue major dramas...
In this first instalment of Chocolate Box Girls, our narrator is shy but imaginative Cherry, whose tendency to confuse fact and fantasy gets her into trouble on a regular basis. Half Scottish and half Japanese, she's never felt that she fit in anywhere - except with her dad at home. And she soon realises that moving in with the Tanberrys isn't going to be all plain sailing. Her journey is mirrored endearingly by that of her beloved golfish Rover, as they both adjust to the pros and cons of being a little fish in a big pond for a change.
Cherry Crush also introduces us to all four Tanberry girls, but we get to know oldest sister Honey the best. While her hostility towards Cherry means she's in some ways the villain of the story, we gradually realise that she hasn't had such an easy time of it herself. The other sisters - dedicated ballerina Summer, her quirky twin Skye, and tomboy Coco - are torn between their loyalty to Honey and welcoming Cherry to the family. They're all so individual and easy-to-relate-to that I'm sure readers won't be able to resist choosing a favourite. The book even includes a 'Which Chocolate Box Girl Are You?' quiz in case you have any trouble deciding.
I'd never read a Cathy Cassidy book before this one, and I have to confess that Cherry Crush really surprised me. I can usually guess what's going to happen in a book, but there's more to Cherry's story than meets the eye - and it didn't end how I expected at all. While it's a cute read, it also explores the real-life problems that tweens and teens face when their parents split up or get remarried. I'd recommend this one to tweens looking for a series filled with romance, friendship and fun.
Out: September 2nd 2010, UK
Thank you to Puffin for providing a review copy of this book.