Sophie owns a chocolate shop where she sells Misfortune Cookies-dipped in bitter chocolate they contain messages she handwrites each day such as "Your car seems fine now, but just wait...it will eventually be a source of frustration and unexpected delay." What starts as a gimmick, turns into a surprise hit with customers. But when her ex-fiancée moves back to their small Washington town, he is surprised at how bitter and unhappy Sophie has become. He proposes a bet--she must place an ad in the paper that simply states "Wanted: Happiness." If at least 100 people respond, proving happiness isn't a myth, she agrees to a date with him. If not, he'll leave her alone forever. Sophie is convinced she'll win, but fate has other ideas when a reporter at the paper is intrigued by the ad as a story and posts it in newspapers across the country.
Milne (The Nine Lessons) slightly dials down his trademark oversentimentality in this serviceable novel of uplift. Chocolatier Sophie Jones carries around much guilt about her parents' accidental death when she was nine, so when her fiancé, Garrett Black, dumps her, she gets to feeling very, very sad. But in a lemons/lemonade moment, she channels her disappointment into a signature cookie: the Misfortune Cookie, which becomes a hit with her customers. She's eventually somewhat content, but then Garrett begs her to take him back, and she presents him with a challenge: prove that true happiness exists. The challenge, while silly, predictably leads them down a path they never expected. While this packs all the warm fuzzies Milne's readers would expect, a flood of too-serendipitous developments strain credibility, even for a cute, disposable confection. For readers willing to do some serious suspending of disbelief, there'll be some smiles. (June) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.