Danika Russo is a newly retired 55 year old who is going through a life crisis after having taken care of her terminally ill partner and father. As she loves cooking, she decides to enroll in an Italian cooking class. There she meets gorgeous classmate Finn Gerard who is 15 years younger. Their attraction is undeniable but Finn hides a secret and doesn’t want to commit to Danika. Will they have their happily ever after?
The main character in this book is Italian cuisine. The author’s maternal family is Italian and she remembers how important is cooking for them, how they show love through food. All over this novel, there are lots of food descriptions and metaphors and an appendix with some of the author’s own recipes. I suggest not reading it when you are hungry!
‘A recipe for love’ is written in third person solely from Danika’s point of view which is ideal as it keeps Finn’s mysterious behaviour a secret. It’s good to see that Ms. Madison wrote in Danika an older, slightly overweight and flawed character. Danika suffers from low self esteem, insecurity and negative body image. At the beginning, she reflects a lot about her past and lost opportunities which can be tedious and depressing but, throughout the book, it’s good to see her transformation. However, the gravity of the plot never shifts completely until the very end. Natalie, Danika’s best friend, is a great secondary character who brings a bit of much needed levity to the story.
The reader doesn’t get to know Finn except for her being younger and beautiful. Even though there is insta-attraction and insta-love, the mains remain separated most of the book. Their chemistry feels a bit off, possibly because the narrative distance is quite remote in the romance parts where the author uses more tell than show, specially in the sex scenes which sometimes are mentioned as an afterthought. I dropped my rating for this reason along with a few minor typos.
Overall, this is an ok age-gap romance that deals with serious issues such as terminal illness and the meaning of life, all surrounded by the sensuality of food. 3.5 stars.
ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Susan and Ali Jenkins are happily married until Susan is diagnosed with terminal cancer. With little time left, Susan asks Ali to promise her that when she’s gone Ali will be open to a new chance at love. Will Ali keep her promise?
This is a story that deals with a few difficult issues such as terminal illness, death and bereavement, but also conveys a message of hope and love. Normally books about widows finding love again don’t narrate the loss part or they just describe it as a flashback. This case is different. ‘The promise’ is divided into two parts: the first deals with Susan’s illness and death, and the second, much longer, narrates Ali’s struggle to cope with her loss and to keep her promise. It isn’t hard to guess that part 1 is as heartbreaking as part 2 is hopeful.
The book is written in third person from the point of view of Susan, Ali and Susan’s nurse Blair. In the second part, Susan keeps her voice in short flashbacks as Ali’s memories. Despite the issues involved in the story, the tone is not melodramatic or excessively dark mainly due to Susan’s personality and selflessness. Ali’s characterisation is realistic in her pain and struggle, and Blair is also portrayed with authenticity in how she’s ready to help as a nurse and a friend.
My only issue with this book that is reflected in my rating is that the novel has some minor editing issues like the usage of commas and some typos. Additionally, in my opinion, the balance between show and tell is a bit off and the introduction of some secondary characters is a bit confusing. Despite that, the story is engaging, compelling and will definitely tug at the reader’s heartstrings.
Overall, a moving and emotional read that will invoke both sadness and hope. 4 stars.
ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Sasha Adams is a massage therapist living with her cancer survivor mother. She’s content with her life but she wishes to become a screenwriter. Her life changes radically when her mother and best friend enter one of her works in a writing competition and she wins it. Suddenly she gets a script-writing contract and a love interest in Jac Kensington, her new boss. Jac is a self-made businesswoman with abandonment issues and a predilection to never grow up. But when she meets Sasha, her world turns upside down and both women have to decide if they want to keep their old ways or take a chance at love and face together come what may.
It’s hard to describe this novel. The cover and its rom-com labelling might suggest a lightness that’s only half truth. As the blurb states, ‘a bittersweet rom-com’ is a better description, bittersweet being the operative word. Additionally, it’s a romance in a broader sense of the word. There’s not only romanic involvement but also maternal love (or lack thereof), friendship and unrequited love. You can truly say that love is in the air.
This novel is anything but ‘Lost for words’. It shows the author’s deep convictions and deals with issues such as abandoment, illness, aging and death. Ms. Bramhall pulls no punches, she’s not afraid to tackle such difficult issues. The story is sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad. It will make you laugh and whenever you least expect, it’ll punch you in the guts. It’s no coincidence that the winning script referred in the book is ‘Nightingale’, a self reference to possibly Bramhall’s most woeful novel. However, this is a more optimistic story, like it should be in a book about love. My only criticism is that at some points the book stretched too much and less words could have been more.
The characters are well written and realistic. It’s refreshing to see leads in their late forties, early fifties. Jac, also known as ‘Pan Pan’ for her similarities with Peter Pan, is an incredibly complex character who very slowly opens up to reveal her real issues behind her carefree attitude. Sasha’s unselfish personality and maturity is the perfect balance to Jac. Together they have great chemistry. The supporting cast is rich in layers, specially Sasha’s mum, Fleur. She’s a character that could have been written by Robin Alexander, with her quirky lifestyle and hilarious behaviour. She brings much of the lightness of the book.
Overall, a very good bittersweet book about love with endearing characters. Worth a read. 4.5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.