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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal~★★

Author: Barbara O'Neal
Title: The Lost Recipe for Happiness
Release Date: December 30th, 2008
Publisher: Bantam Discovery
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover: "It's the opportunity Elena Alvarez has been waiting for---the challenge of running her own kitchen in a world-class restaurant. Haunted by an accident of which she was the lone survivor, Elena knows better than anyone how to defy the odds. With her faithful dog, Alvin, and her grandmother's recipes, Elena arrives in Colorado to find a restaurant in as desperate need of a fresh start as she is---and a man whose passionate approach to food and life rivals her own. Owner Julian Liswood is a name many people know but a man few do. He's come to Aspen with a troubled teenage daughter and a dream of the kind of stability and love only a family can provide. But for Elena, old ghosts don't die quietly, yet a chance to find happiness at last is worth the risk." 

Taryn's Review: My library had the cutest little Thanksgiving display of books which they called, "Books to Feast On This Thanksgiving!"  Most of the books had a food themesince there apparently aren't too many Thanksgiving-themed books in my library. I selected this book off the shelf and was looking forward to it, especially since I love food and I love to cook.

However, I was really disappointed in the book. One annoyance  I had (and this was most likely the publisher's fault) was that the dog on the cover looked nothing like the dog, Alvin, in the book. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but the restaurant in the book was named after the dog. He was commented on by everyone for his beautiful, fluffy, soft orange fur. Um, the dog on the cover is not fluffy nor orange. I mean, they named the restaurant the Orange Bear after the dog, for goodness sake!

Secondly, this book was very cliche. A beautiful but emotionally damaged heroine found herself falling for the gorgeous, rich, and soulful man who can help "save" her from her ghosts. Elena had a gay best friend who was a decorator that joined her in Colorado. This story line in the book could have ignored and it wouldn't have been missed. Elena had another friend who blew her off to stay in London for love (again, not needed in this book). Despite some challenges, O'Neal had the food in the restaurant, the atmosphere, and even the old drunken bitter cook come together to create a perfect eatery.

Thirdly - hello graphic sex scenes! I am not a prude, don't get me wrong. But I was absolutely not expecting such graphic sexual descriptions in this book. Those definitely could have been toned down a touch. It's one thing to pick up a book that has half naked people lustfully holding onto one another and expect some hard-core sex talk. This book has a whisk and a dog on the cover so I never thought it would contain such descriptive sex scenes. I think one of the least romantic things I've ever read was when Julian says to Elena, "I saw your mouth and wanted to fuck you on the spot" (page 307). Aww, doesn't that just warm your heart?

I liked the idea of the book. However, it just didn't come together well enough for me. And the end of the book was perplexing to me at first. I had no idea what the gift was and it irritated me. Finally I realized what it was and thought it was so underdeveloped in the book that the gift seemed odd and out-of-place. I hate to be mean to any book, but I'd pass on this one.

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