Sandy M's Reviews > Scrumptious

Scrumptious by Amanda Usen
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's review
Jan 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary
Read from January 15 to 23, 2012

I’m one of those people who likes upscale food in fancy-schmancy restaurants. Being a hillbilly at heart, I also like down-home food where the atmosphere is relaxed and fun. Amanda Usen gives me all that and more in this fun and light-hearted read.

I don’t usually read books dealing with food. I’ve not found one that’s been written by a classically trained chef who make culinary delights believable and enjoyable. Until now. Ms. Usen is a chef in her own right, and she does a terrific job of describing life in a fast-paced kitchen, while also tantalizing the reader with dishes served up for lunch, dinner, and even Sunday brunch. I also like that the heroine, Marly, is not a school-taught chef. She’s one of those who just loves to cook, found her affinity for it early enough through the help of friends, and gets a thrill every time she steps into a kitchen, professional or not. She’s living my dream.

Olivia owns Chameleon, a family restaurant, and Marly is her best friend and has helped her out from day one, keeping the place running smoothly, especially after Olivia meets Keith in culinary school, marries him and then brings him back to restaurant and puts him on the line with Marly. The man is a total screw-up, and it’s Marly who’s making him look good all the time, until she’s had enough. Asking to be taken off the line, she retreats to the bakeshop where her desserts are as mouthwatering as her entrees. The lady is talented in every aspect of the kitchen. She ran Chameleon while Olivia was in school. Now when things begin to truly fall apart, Keith is tossed out after one too many of his shenanigans, Olivia doesn’t turn to her for help. She brings in an outsider.

A sexy outsider who Marly would dearly love to have in her bed. Joe Rafferty is the love’em and leave’em type of man and a master in the kitchen. He never stays in one place long enough to be more than that, but he’s trying to change. He promised his mother on her deathbed he’d find someone to fall in love with and start a family. No more sluts. But he’s just as attracted to Marly as she is to him, despite the bit of hard feelings when Joe does agree to put off his trip toward a new job in California to help Olivia until she finds a new chef. And so begins a sexy but battling dance between these two chefs.

After a couple of foolish and childish pranks on Marly’s part (which I’m glad didn’t go any further, didn’t sit well with me) and when strange things begin happening around the kitchen, Joe and Marly begin to work together to figure it all out and to keep Olivia from taking back the snake or even selling the restaurant. It’s Joe who finally realizes what they have, is willing to give up his plans to stay with Marly. But she’s just not there yet. Love and marriage aren’t for her, just like it’s never been for her mother. But with Joe? Her eyes should have opened much sooner than they did. After all they’ve been through, all the loving they’ve shared, Marly still drags her feet. A little too far for me, but at least she does wise up before it’s really too late.

I like the issue each of them has with their fathers. It takes a lot of long, hard looking to resolve those issues in the end. The mysterious goings-on in the restaurant are also solved, Marly ultimately being the cardsharp needed to get to the heart of it. All in all, you keep turning the pages for the fun in the kitchen, the food being served in the dining room,the lovemaking that is sizzling and sweet once it begin, and the laughs along the way.

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