Table For Two, by Nora Roberts

>> Monday, March 31, 2003

Last week I read some Nora Roberts. The book is Table for Two, and it's a 2-in-1 reissue of two mid-80s category books. Both books are connected, and are about two chefs.

The first story is Summer Dessert:
When love-resistant dessert chef Summer Lyndon develops a taste for her delectable boss Blake Cocharan, her legendary willpower is put to the ultimate test.
This one was a C+, pleasant, but no more than that. The most remarkable thing about it was how hungry it made me, especially for pastries and desserts. After all that talk about how Summer's specialty was teh bombe, I just had to go out and buy myself some dulce de leche-filled bombas. These are rounded pastry shells filled with different types of creams... I suppose, from the description in the book that they might be similar to Summer's bombes.

I wasn't too engaged by the love story here. The best description would be "nice", but nothing too exciting. Just lukewarm, like my reaction to the main characters. I liked them and more or less understood them, but I didn't much care if they got together or not. Summer baffled me at some points, especially by her attitude towards cooking. It sounded all very exhausted, and I didn't feel it was something she really enjoyed much. Too much emphasis on perfection.

I more or less disliked the ending. The situation between Blake's parents just didn't strike me the way the author intended. My reading was was more "Even in this obviously happy marriage, the man cheated on his wife, but they got over it through hard work". Very romantic. That'll make me want to get married, all right.

Second story was Lessons Learned and it was much, much better. A B+.

Publicist Juliet Trent never mixes business with pleasure, but her newest client, charming ladies' man and chef Carlo Franconi, is determined to whet her appetite for love.
All that pasta, yum! And Carlo's attitude towards cooking was much more to my taste. The guy had fun cooking and enjoyed the process.

And Carlo, oh Carlo! I had my doubts about him during his appearances on Summer Desserts and early in this story: why would I find such a stereotype sexy? Plus, being Italian myself, the simplifications and over-generalizations were a bit insulting. Well, I thought Carlo was hot. I'm crazy about heroes like this, charming and appreciative of women, but not insincere or frivolous. As soon as I started liking him, my doubts returned. why would such a man fall in love with a dry, humuorless stick like Juliet? Bit she started showing some signs of life and of humour, so I finally bought it.

I loved the plot about life in a book tour (Nora would know about it. Maybe not in 1985, but she must have checked this before the reissue). Best scene, hands down: the perverted chimp. This raised the score half a letter at least!

Anyway, this was very satisfying. Seeing the playboy lose his cool and become jealous and possessive (without becoming a jerk!), wow!!

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