Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publish Date: January 1, 2012
Sparks between love 'em and leave 'em pastry chef and poker sharp Marlene Bennet and traveling chef-for-hire Joe Rafferty when the two culinary perfectionists are forced to share a kitchen. But several suspicious accidents at the restaurant convince Marlene and Joe to work together to uncover the saboteur. Maybe a little intrigue and high-stakes poker will be the perfect ingredients for these commitment-phobic foodies to whip up a happily ever after.
Marly Bennett is a bakery chef working in Olivia's (her BFF) restaurant, Chameleon. Marly has worked at Chameleon for years - she grew up with Olivia's family and worked while Olivia went to culinary school. Things are not going well for Olivia - her rat of a husband has cheated on her for the last time and is trying to take the restaurant down with him. Marly knows they can keep Chameleon afloat but knows it's going to take some hard work.
Joe Rafferty is an old friend of Olivia's, passing through town on the way to fulfill his mother's deathbed wish - to visit his father and then settle down and marry a nice girl. After hearing about Olivia's predicament, Joe agrees to help out as chef, much to Marly's chagrin. Their mutual attraction is tempered by their ability to butt heads in and out of the kitchen. Besides, Marly is definitely not the type of girl Joe is looking for, and Marly does not want to settle down.
Scrumptious was pretty sweet (pun intended). Even though I hate to cook, I love stories about cooks - go figure...anyhoo:
I had kind of a love/hate relationship with these two. I liked them both, they seemed like good, heardworking people, likeable, but with flaws. I also liked the back and forth between Marly and Olivia; their friendship was believable and realistic. The secondary characters were interesting and furthered the story without being obvious. I really enjoyed the scenes involving running the restaurant, I felt like I was getting a peek into the workings of a real restaurant kitchen. The mystery of how the kitchen was being sabatoged was interesting, I knew who was behind it but not how it was being accomplished.
What didn't I like? My problem with Marly was that she used one of the secondary characters to "scratch her itch" and to get back at Joe when she was mad at him. That's a no-no for me; not a good sign of character. Joe had a bit of a double-standard that got on my nerves: while he has a history of being a "himbo", he referred to Marly several times as a slut for the same behavior. I really had a problem with his quest to find a virgin/good girl and marry her. That seemed so 18th century and ridiculous given his own sexual history.
My other complaint was the ending was a bit far-fetched and fast. I would have preferred less of the excitement at the end and more of Marly/Joe.
All in all though, a cute, fun read. I'll be keeping my eyes open for more from this author.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.