3.5 out of 5 StarsMagalie lives on the Ile Saint-Louis in Paris, running La Maison des Sorcieres, a small chocolate shop with her aunts. Emotionally scarred from her past, Magalie has created walls around herself. However, her small isolated world is shaken when the top Parisian patissier Phillipe Lyonnais comes bowling into the island, planning to set up his own shop selling pastries and chocolates. Magalie brushes Phillipe off and begins a war between the two. But is anger the only thing feeding their feud?The Chocolate Kiss is an enemies-to-lovers story with magical elements. It reminded me of a mix of Practical Magic and Chocolat in contemporary Paris. I loved the comparisons to Magalie as the fairy tale witch and Phillipe as the fairy tale prince. It was a beautiful story watching two enemies ignore and realize their sexual attraction for each other.But then they got together and the whole book went to hell for me.This book was a strange roller coaster ride. Originally I loved it to pieces, and then I hated it with a firey passion, and finally ending on a neutrally mediocre note. I love enemies-to-lovers stories (some of my favorite books are Pride and Prejudice and Much Ado About Nothing), but sadly, more often than not, these books fall flat for me in the romance genre. Most of the time, these books purport that the heroine’s worldview is incorrect compared to the hero’s. Unlike Pride and Prejudice or Much Ado, where both characters realize their mistakes and short-comings, and work separately to become better people, The Chocolate Kiss, like so many romance novels, is about a man forcing his “correct” worldview on a woman and all the individual growth is done within the boundaries of the relationship. The Chocolate Kiss is hardly the most egregious example, but I never felt Magalie had enough time to contemplate herself, despite the lip-service paid.Since so much of the book is spent in this antagonistic relationship, when Phillipe and Magalie do get together, they Speedy Gonzales through the whole getting to know each other and falling in love part. Phillipe tells Magalie he loves her the first time they sleep together (and of course it's implied she's emotionally stunted for not responding in turn). All I could think was ‘we've got a stage five clinger.’It didn’t help that we hardly knew anything about Phillipe. There are a few vignettes featuring his family and some hints of tension between him and his father, as well as his own issues with selfishness and arrogance. However, his ego is later passed off as cute and ‘oh that’s just him,’ even when Phillipe starts pulling a bunch of ‘ME MAN, YOU WOMAN’ shit, including CHANGING THE LOCKS ON HER APARTMENT WITHOUT TELLING HER. Super cute, amirite? I get it, ‘its soooooooo romantic! He cares sooooooooo much about her safety!’ when all I see is ‘RUN! RUN NOW! SUPER POSESSIVE STALKER ALERT!’ The book plays it as though Magalie is in the wrong getting all bent out of shape for daring to question the protective instincts of a man. So Phillipe gets a pass on his personality failings, but Magalie is a heinous bitch for hers? The original problem – will La Maison des Sorcieres survive if Phillipe’s shop exists – is hand waved away in a terrible deus ex machina. It belittled any issue that Magalie had and trivialized the entire conflict. Why would her aunts just not TELL her that information? Oh their eccentric. Right because eccentric = making no fucking sense.Magalie does eventually come back to herself and recognizes her power in the relationship, but it honestly felt like lip service and was too little too late. It’s pretty telling when the last chapter features Phillipe and her aunt talking about Magalie like she’s some little girl they need to coddle and protect. The whole vibe of the scene was super creepy. Magalie started the story as a witch, a woman with power of her own and power over her life, and ended the story as a princess, a woman who has no identity outside of a man. She’s a topic to be discussed, not a person to have a discussion with.I loved the set-up and the first 3/4ths of this book. The prose is beautiful, magical, and sensual, fully invoking Paris and the world of pastries and chocolate. However, the book never transcends the tropes that much of the romance genre falls into. I tend to be much more sensitive to unequal power-dynamics and over-bearing alpha heroes than most readers of the genre, but I’m angry because this book showed so much promise only to become a stereotypical ME MAN YOU WOMAN romance novel in the end. Many readers love The Chocolate Kiss, but all I could feel was disappointment.