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The Lost Recipe for Happiness
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The Lost Recipe for Happiness

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  4,608 Ratings  ·  586 Reviews
In this sumptuous new novel, Barbara O’Neal offers readers a celebration of food, family, and love as a woman searches for the elusive ingredient we’re all hoping to find….

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
Paperback, 452 pages
Published December 30th 2008 by Bantam Discovery
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
Sort: Default
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
I have to admit when I first skimmed the book description, I thought the plot would be: girl breaks up with current boy, relocates to new city for a fresh start, meets new boy, not sure if she should get involved with new boy, ends up getting involved with new boy and they begin new relationship. Ok, so maybe The Lost Recipe for Happiness can be summed up that way. But honestly, it’s so much more than that.

Elena Alvarez is a complicated character, but extremely likable. She’s haunted by her past
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
I was really excited about this book - I liked the premise and the story about characters overcoming tragedy and choosing to take risks. I have also been reading some other non-fiction about food, so I enjoyed the fictional tie-in with all the recipes and narrative about creating new food in the restaurant.

I was, however, put off by a few things. First of all, if an author is going to write a character who speaks Spanish, get an editor for the Spanish!! 75% of what Elena said was completely inc
Sep 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am giving this book 3 stars, instead of 4 for 2 different reasons. First, the author used the F word way too much and it was always in such a crude manner that it was disgusting every time it was used. The second reason is that most of the book was clean and told a good story...until it hit about halfway through the book when the author decided she all of a sudden needed to add disgustingly descriptive sex scenes. All I can say is thank goodness I was listening to the audio book so I could fas ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
This isn't "Sex in the City" chic lit--this one actually has some seriousness and some heft. Elena, the lone survivor of a horrific car wreck that killed a number of her family and her boyfriend, is a chef now, living with her damaged body and her more damaged soul in the tough, male dominated world of high end cuisine. She's offered her first executive chef position with the challenge of renovating and recreating a restaurant in Aspen. I absolutely FELL into this book. I identified with the kit ...more
Wow! The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal was much different than what I expected! It wasn't light and fluffy but real and somewhat dark. So many characters with so many flaws, both physical and emotional, and I loved them all. My favorite of all: Ivan! I would love to sit next to him at a dinner party. Pick this book up if you want a couple of days filled with laughter and tears!

Go Cards! L1C4!!
Mar 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sad-strumpet
Icky enough that there was a romance shoe-horned into this downer tale of a VERY broken woman and her ghosts - but even more off-putting was the fact that the hero was the boss, and the heroine was trying to prove herself in a male-dominated field, and he pretty much hired her knowing he wanted to sleep with her. Yay for uncomfortable power dynamics!

As if that wasn't depressing enough - I could not get past the physical descriptions. The hero was described as pale, spindly, big nosed, black-eyed
Kimberly Kincaid
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book a BILLION stars if I could, and it is easily on my list of Top 5 Books I'd Want if Stranded of a Desert Island. What an amazing, poignant, sensual, wonderful book! From the minute I picked it up, I was hooked- the characters are fabulous and perfectly flawed, the plot is well-thought-out and engaging, and the book moves incredibly well.

I had empathy for Elena right from the beginning, but she's anything but a poor woe-is-me character. I loved her sense of strength, loved
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rita-finalist
I liked this book. It was a little more slow-paced than I like, and a little more "flowery" in the language, but overall, I enjoyed reading it. (If a section got a little hard to plow through, I just skipped ahead. I read for story...)

The heroine is a chef. She's in pretty bad physical shape, with a bad scar down her back, and she's just broken up with her chef boyfriend-boss. There's a tragedy in her past, but she doesn't like to talk about it. When the story opens, an article about her in the
This isn't "Sex in the City" chic lit--this one actually has some seriousness and some heft. Elena, the lone survivor of a horrific car wreck that killed a number of her family and her boyfriend, is a chef now, living with her damaged body and her more damaged soul in the tough, male dominated world of high end cuisine. She's offered her first executive chef position with the challenge of renovating and recreating a restaurant in Aspen. I absolutely FELL into this book. I identified with the kit ...more
Sep 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is an airport book, good for nothing more than a long flight. Elena wants to be executive chef of a really cool restaurant and have everybody think she's The Shit. But she is Haunted. By the ghosts of her sister and her Soul Mate. Any author that can use the words "soul mate" over and over again, without a single soupcon of irony, is not an author anyone wants to read anywhere but on a very boring flight.

And also, there is a LOT of sex in this book (spoiler alert: she even gets all sexy wit
Jun 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Books like these, where suddenly the male character is inexplicably, devastatingly in love with the female character just leave me feeling flat. I wish the writer had better developed the characters, written characters I could care about, and somehow shown why these two people fell in love. The story just felt incomplete to me. And the sex scenes seemed really forced, thrown in because it's a "romance," I guess. They added absolutely nothing. Revealed nothing about character desire or about the ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Finally a book I really liked and I finished! Elena is a woman who has suffered tragedy and survived. She is strong and focused on her career in a man's world of restaurant chefs. The story follows her as she has the opportunity (after being fired)to pursue her dream of being the head chef of her own restaurant.
I loved the character development, the fact that everyone was not perfect and how they each dealt with their own issues. I am not a cook, but the recipes woven through out the story make
BJ Rose
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to BJ Rose by: Rossy ~*~ Ehrotic ~*~
The Lost Recipe for Happiness was my first book by O'Neal. It has a romance interwoven into the story, but this is basically a story of survival, and knowing when to finally let go of what might have been so you can embrace what might be even better. It's a heart-wrenching story but I liked it a lot and gave it 4*
Jac (For Love and Books)
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading How to Bake a Perfect Life (also by Barbara O'Neal) I had to have more of her stories! Based in Colorado, and in the kitchen - her writing style is perfect for this amateur baker from the Southern Front Range! The Lost Recipe For Happiness sounded cute, a chef in Aspen? And the cover was gorgeous too, so I dove right in. And I couldn't put it down!

Barbara O'Neal's writing is breathtaking, vivid and passionate. As you are turning the pages, you can clearly see the kitchen in the Or
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In this food lovers' novel, Elena Alvarez is an accomplished Santa Fe-trained chef with Mexican roots and a Southwestern flair to her elegant food. When she is offered the opportunity to become the executive chef at a new restaurant in Aspen, Colorado, owned by a Hollywood director who dabbles in the restaurant business, Elena jumps at the opportunity. But the process of opening the restaurant and developing the menu turns out to be more challenging than Elena expected. She must deal with Ivan, ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was extremely moved by this book. The characters were beautifully written; they were flawed, broken, hurt. I could really feel the pain they had in their souls because of past tragedies. There's despair and disillusionment, but not to a point where they had given up all hope – just nearly.

Although I'm not that familiar with this cuisine, I enjoyed the pages with all the recipes on Southwestern cooking. Normally I’m not too fond when there’s a lot of cooking and talk of food in a novel, but he
Theresa Alan
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is filled with a sumptuous setting of Aspen, Colorado, and sumptuous recipes. Screenplay writer Julian Liswood hires Elena Alvarez to open a new restaurant in Aspen. Here, she’ll be the executive chef in charge of designing the menu herself. Though Elena is blond and blue-eyed, she grew up with her paternal grandmother and those are the South West recipes she uses, combined with her time studying cuisine in Europe.

A horrible car accident twenty years earlier continues haunt to Elena ph
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Loved it. Just absolutely loved this book. About 60 pages in I started slowing down my reading of it just so it would last longer. The characters were excellent....even down to people in her past and her dog. All of them were meaningful and important. This is definitely not a cute, light read... it's more edgy and lightly explores a lot of subjects that some consider controversial. None of the topics bothered me though...

The writing felt true to life and the characters have stuck with me since I
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolyn F.
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is mostly a contemporary romance with a twist. Elena is a sous chef who is fired by the executive chef and ex-lover when an article in the local newspaper is more about her than the restaurant. The owner of the restaurant Julian Liswood wants her to be executive chef in his new Aspen restaurant and asks to meet with her when she's leaving with all her stuff. Elena survived a horrible accident, Julian is trying to be a better dad. Throw in some friends and co-workers, great book. Very s ...more
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent offering by Barbara Samuel/O'Neal. Even better than the Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, my most recent favorite of her books. The Lost Recipe for Happiness is a wonderful story of damaged people finding the healing they need via the love of soul mates--and maybe a little help from ghostly relatives. I will warn you that since the main character of this book is a chef, a lot of the action takes place in kitchens, and Barbara's descriptions of food are SO sensual, you will be hungry ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, paranormal, food
This was my first Barbara O'Neal book, but certainly won't be my last! From the book cover, I was expecting something very light and fluffy, entertaining but not too taxing. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the characters and the strength of Elena. This was not a sappy romance; rather it was a genuine love story that moved me to tears with it's conclusion. Life issues, hurts, and disappointments were not glossed over, but dealt with in an honestly reassuring manner. Which made the ulti ...more
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie, pub-library
I loved this book even more than a few years ago!
I'm not sure if my memory is faulty or the book has been edited and improved with new bits here and there?

Regardless I loved these very flawed and broken characters. If I had a complain it would be that it felt like there was more to tell and then the book was finished.
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book years ago, stored it away with a million other books I have collected & not yet read. This just happened to be the one I chose when I grabbed inside for a new read. I Love, love, loved this novel ! I fell in love with the story, the characters, the joy, the pain. Everything about it made me anticipate the next time I was able to steal away a few moments to read more.
KC Lynn
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I listed to this audio book and I really loved it. I enjoyed my ride to work and looked forward to the book. I loved all the food descriptions along with all the characters. It got a little corny at the end but corny every once in a while is okay with me!
Bookworm LLC
I liked this book, just not as much as the others I have read by Barbara O'Neal. Still enjoyed it, but seemed a bit disjointed.

Ich bin komplett ohne Erwartungen an das Buch herangegangen und wurde positiv überrascht. Das setting mit dem Restaurant und Elena als Küchenchefin hat mir gut gefallen.

Die Geschichte ist eher seicht und die Vergangenheit von Elena blieb dabei eher im Hintergrund und Randerscheinung. Die Liebesgeschichte wirkte auf mich ebenfalls ein wenig gestellt, und bei dieser konnte ich kaum mitfiebern. Die Charaktere waren sympathisch, aber nicht unbedingt besonders.
Zum Teil hatte die Geschichte einen
Nov 30, 2009 added it
The Lost Recipe for Happiness, Monday, November 30th, 2009
By Ying Ying Ruan
“The lost recipe for happiness” is a book for food lovers, and also tells a great story in a wonderful manner. My response to this novel will be mostly positive, because I found it to be a unique narrative amongst the few books I had read so far. The author Barbara O’Neal has used her writing talents to combined different aspect of a woman life to present a story that is exotic and extremely interesting. Elena Alvarez’s
Susan (aka Just My Op)
Chef Elena had a rough childhood – a father who died before her birth, a mother who abandoned her, and as a saving grace, a grandmother who loved her completely. Her childhood ended with a horrible car wreck, and Elena was the only passenger who survived, barely. So, of course, she carries a lot of emotional as well as physical damage, and certainly doesn't want anyone too close to her. Not even the ghosts of her past.

This is a sweet romance novel but not the type I would normally choose to read
Sheila DeChantal
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
There is a lot to like about The Lost Recipe For Happiness. I liked the idea of a fixer upper project with Elena the one to call the shots. I do like a good project! I also found I liked Elena. For what she has literally lived through, she is a strong independent woman with dreams and goals. I also enjoyed the back up players in this book, while I never did get a full handle on Ivan, I think (I think) I liked him. Patrick is wonderful and you have to love Julian and his daughter Portia. Ivan the ...more
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Barbara Samuel (also known as Barbara O’Neal) is the bestselling author of more than 60 books, and has won Romance Writers of America’s RITA award seven times. How to Bake a Perfect Life was a Target Club pick and The Lost Recipe for Happiness went back to print nine times. Her books have been published around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and Australia/New Zealand, ...more
More about Barbara O'Neal...
“TEQUILA MENU Tequila is made from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant, and connoisseurs know there are four grades, just as there are grades of scotch or bourbon: blanco, bottled immediately; reposado, or “rested,” aged in oak for two months to less than a year; añejo, aged for at least a year; and extra añejo, aged for at least three years.” 0 likes
“There was simply no doubt in her mind that she would one day find her own prince. He would kiss her, and Elena would Know, and they would Live Happily Ever After.” 0 likes
More quotes…