Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine—a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can’t make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that’s why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla’s Cucinotta, she’s determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother’s legacy.
But Holly’s four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla’s chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter’s heart. Juliet, Holly’s childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can’t find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad, Liam, from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend. As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla’s essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed—and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.
My Take: This is a pleasant read; like chicken soup. Holly, the protagonist, is a likeable woman who steps into her grandmother's big shoes to try to save her grandmother's legacy. She enters a small community complete with cliques, secrets, and histories. So Holly attempts to take over her grandmother's kitchen, selling Italian sauces and cooking classes. Of course, Holly can't cook.
And so Holly spends all of her time teaching herself to cook through her grandmother's old recipes that always include a special ingredient; a secret wish, a happy or sad memory, a truth. As her small class begins their culinary lessons, new friendships are forged and Holly discovers there is much of her grandmother in, after all. And not just the cooking part.
I liked the story. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and writing style. It's a solid read and I came away feeling uplifted and relaxed. Like chicken soup or after a nice walk in the woods.
Thanks to Mary at Simon and Schuster, I have 2 copies up for grabs. Entry is easy as always.
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