book captured me from the first page and hasn't let go of me yet. Juliette is part of a loud French/Italian family that believes it's important to be all up in everyone's business. She's a restaurant critic for a newspaper in Portland, Oregon. Her brother, Nico, is a chef for the family restaurant D'Alisa & Elle, but he wants to open his own restaurant again. His first one closed after his sous chef resigned and broke his sister's heart. He wants Juliette to be his business manager and he promises to listen to her when she gives him advice.
Juliette is at a point in her life where she's not totally satisfied: socially, vocationally, or even relationally. On a whim, she signs up on a dating web site, to take only one email before she decides to cancel her subscription. A power outage lets one more email slip through, and she ends up emailing back and forth with an immunologist in Memphis, Tennessee. She finds herself drawn to this man and wants to know more. In doing research for her food column at work, she finds her grandmother's cookbook and recipes in the drawer of the table she inherited from her grandmother. Inside the dust cover of the cookbook is a picture of her grandmother with a man who looks just like her brother, but he looks nothing like her uncle, and the mystery begins. Juliette's research ends up taking her to France to see her grandmother's sister, hoping she has more information about the man in the photograph.
Hillary Manton Lodge has given this family some real world problems to overcome, some real-life conflicts to resolve, and a bit of mystery to round out the story. She has also included some very tasty recipes. I fixed the roasted peppers and pasta recipe and this woman knows what she's talking about in the kitchen. She has an incredible writing style, first person, believable, and interesting. Her narrative is tight, her characters are relatable, her recipes make the reader drool with just the ingredients list, and beyond that the story is just plain good. I cannot wait for the next book in this series comes out! This is book one of a three part serial. You can read chapter one here, and Hillary's bio here.
Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and Grandma's favorite recipe.
Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.