Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate

From Amazon.com:
Camilla’s Cucinotta: Italian Cooking Classes. Fresh take-home pastas & sauces daily. Benvenuti! (Welcome!)

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.


At the beginning of The Love Goddess' Cooking School, Holly Maguire gets dumped by her boyfriend (manfriend?) of two years. She sees it coming, so she gives it one last shot. She feeds him the special (gross) Italian meal her grandmother assures her will be enjoyed by her true love. When he tells her it's disgusting, she knows deep down it's over, even if she doesn't want it to be. Heartbroken, she goes to visit her grandmother on Blue Crab Island to mend her heart and take stock of her life.

A few short weeks after her arrival, her grandmother dies, leaving her Camilla's Cucinotta, her grandmother's home/kitchen where she sells authentic Italian cooking and tells fortunes. Holly isn't much of a cook and definitely does not have the gift of fortune telling, but she decides she feels like she's home and wants to make a go of the Cucinotta, starting by taking over the cooking classes that start in a month.

This book was absolutely wonderful. I completely lost myself in reading the story - I imagined myself there on the tiny island, stopping in the store looking for delicious Italian take-out, sitting on the dock looking over the water, visiting the picturesque hotel. The characters were inviting -I hate cooking but I wanted to be a part of Holly's cooking class! There was more than one storyline, but Ms. Senate did a fabulous job of not letting the others overshadow Holly's story - it was more of a blend, and it worked. The wishes and dreams of the Holly's friends that are revealed over the backdrop of cooking were sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but somehow made me feel like part of the group.

Here are some of the things that surprised me:
~I don't normally like kids in books - but Mia was adorable. Not obnoxious and I actually liked her and wanted good things for her.

~I don't normally like "flashbacks", but I found myself wanting more of Holly's grandmother's diary entries - how she came over from Italy and the local women didn't like her, how she became the local "witch", how she knew her daughter would never be happy on Blue Crab Island but even before Holly was born she knew her granddaughter would call it home.

~I don't normally read "chick lit", but the cover blurb caught my attention and the writing kept my attention. This book made me want to do something I absolutely never do - I wanted to skip ahead and read the back page to find out if she trusted in her Grandmother's memory enough to overcome her fear and feed Liam the sa cordula.

After gorging myself on paranormal and urban fantasy over the last few weeks, this book was a breath of fresh air. Don't get me wrong, it was not all sunshine and happiness; because as we all know, you have to go through the hard times to appreciate the good times. I enjoyed taking this journey with Holly. The ending was a bit abrubt but that's my only complaint.

If you like to cook, there are 5 recipes included in the book, and they all include the "special ingredient" (don't even go there - you know who you are!) that is a theme throughout the book.

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Gallery

Release Date: October 26, 2010

ISBN-10: 1439107238
ISBN-13: 978-1439107232

My Rating:

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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