This is a debut novel by Patricia Evans Jordan, book one of her ‘Passport to love’ series. Sara Brighton is a chef based in Savannah, Georgia. After her restaurant is destroyed by a fire, she decides to start again in the small town of McCall, Idaho. There she meets Captain Sam Draper, the Lake Patrol chief. Their attraction is undeniable but Sara is planning to build a modern restaurant in Sam’s late father’s traditional diner which brings her up sad memories and unresolved issues. Will they be able to go past their conflict and build a strong relationship?
This is a slow-burn romance set in a small town with a stunning landscape which the author describes beautifully. ‘McCall’ follows a stereotypical butch-femme dynamic, knight in shining armour and damsel in distress couple; a dark, tall and handsome masculine woman with a blonde feminine southern-belle. This sharp distinction in the characters contrasts with the choice of their names. A rule of naming characters in fiction says that the names should be dissimilar. Unfortunately, in this case, I often found myself backtracking trying to tell apart the too similar names of Sara and Sam which was distracting.
The main characters’ relationship revolves a great deal around food. This romance is a culinary journey in which Sam and Sara build their identities through food and find each other in the process. There is a tension between modern and traditional cuisine that Ms. Jordan describes well. In my opinion, this is where the characters’ chemistry is strong and the book thrives. Having said that, I found that some scenes were a bit unrealistic and parts of the subplot – specially the planning of Sara’s restaurant – seemed delivered in a rush and as an afterthought near the end. Additionally, the main conflict didn’t have enough strength to build proper tension. However, the romance itself, the leads’ chemistry and the intimate scenes were convincing.
Overall, a good debut novel for those who enjoy a butch-femme romance and lots of food references. 3.5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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