Title: Dinner at Jack’s
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 220 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: Dinner at Jack’s satisfies, body and soul.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Personal chef Beau St. Clair, recently divorced from his cheating husband, returns to the small Ohio River town where he grew up to lick his wounds. Jack Rogers lives with his mother, Maisie, in that same small town, angry at and frightened of the world. Jack has a gap in his memory that hides something he dares not face, and he’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Maisie, seeking relief from her housebound and often surly son, hires Beau to cook for Jack, hoping the change might help bring Jack, once a handsome and vibrant attorney, back to his former self. But can a new face and comfort food compensate for the terror lurking in Jack’s past?
Slowly the two men begin a dance of revelation and healing. Food and compassion build a bridge between Beau and Jack, a bridge that might lead to love.
But will Jack’s demons allow it? His history could just as easily tear them apart as bring them together.
Review: As I sit here coating my spoon with the goodness that is Dark Beer and Beef Stew, I can’t help but be really disappointed. Why? Because it ended. The book ended. It ended soooo good, but still I will never get another glimpse into the lives of Beau and Jack. Overall I am happy and content, the story filled my proverbial romance tank the same way the delicious stew is filling my belly—but, like reaching the bottom of the bowl, I hit the end of the story. My voracious appetite for stories and romance will be quiet for a few days, at least, the beast satisfied for now.
What begins with a bittersweet memory, a lost connection with what could have been, morphs into present day and we meet Beau St. Clair—recently divorced and looking to his past to make sense of his present. I loved Beau’s character. He truly wants to take care of everyone around him, and his vehicle of choice is the food he makes for all those he holds dear. A chef by trade, Beau is lucky that his ex-husband left him enough money that Beau doesn’t have to work for a while after he moves back home to Ohio from Seattle. He has the time to put his life back together and really decide what he would like to do with himself. He lasts two weeks with his sister, and then knows something has to give. He finds an apartment that overlooks the Ohio River, and then he and his adorable—and I do mean adorable—pug, Ruth, start to get their lives in order. Noticing an ad on Craigslist for a personal chef, someone to make dinner for a shut-in son, Beau figures it can’t hurt and will get him out of the house.
Jack Rogers is homebound and angry. He’s confused, frightened and he doesn’t know why—his brain won’t let him remember what made him that way. He knows it was something horrible, that he was attacked, but the PTSD is in control now and he literally cannot help how he reacts to the world. His mother, Maisie, after eight years of caring for him, is at her wits end. Placing an ad for someone to cook for Jack while she goes to work seems like a good idea. Jack longs for his life before “it” happened, where he was an up and coming lawyer working for a great firm. He loved his life in Seattle but now it all seems like a dream.
What follows is the unlocking of Jack’s mind and the gradual steps he and Beau take to heal and find love. This is a slow burn novel, there is no instant aha moment here.
“I shook my head and got up to begin rinsing off the dishes in the sink. Fate had a funny way of working, didn’t it? The smallest choices we make could have the biggest repercussions. Some might say things happened as they were supposed to. That what was going on right now was exactly as things were to unfold. And that whatever happened to Jack that night in the snow had been meant to be.
Sometimes we have to treasure the moment—the now—which, really, is all any of us has.”
Rick R. Reed weaves a story showcasing all forms of love: parental love, romantic love, familial love, lost love, new love, the love we feel for our pets, and love reborn. There is a real big dose of fate here and some things you have to take things on faith, but overall, it’s a believable journey. The romance for Beau and Jack really takes a backseat to Jack’s healing, to his restoration of who he is as a person as he moves beyond his trauma. The secondary characters, while few, play a huge role in this story, and Ruth adds a much-needed point of humor as only an adorable pug can. I loved the recipes contained in the storyline (reference the first paragraph), and while I haven’t made them all, I can say the Dark Beer and Beef Stew is delicious.
Dinner at Jack’s satisfies, body and soul.
You can buy Dinner at Jack’s here: