Author: Meg Harding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: Low angst, high romance, amusing banter, hot guys, good sex with a little kink, an interesting plot and great writing.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Bastien isn’t used to bad reviews. His French restaurant is the toast of the town, and when a well-known critic insults it, he’s left off-kilter. Luckily for him he’s found a distraction. He’s just met an attractive writer at his niece’s school bake sale. He’s into food, into Bastien and the touch of kink they share, and there’s a chemistry between them that might make the perfect recipe.
James isn’t expecting to meet a good-looking French chef at a bake sale, but he’s not going to let the chance slide. It comes as a surprise when the chef turns out to be the owner of a place he knows—and has reviewed—and it puts James in a sticky situation. So he might have to omit some pertinent information to make it work… at least for now.
Review: I enjoyed this book. Yes, I originally decided to read it because I am a bit of a foodie, having a pastry chef in the family, but I got sucked in by the romance which is woven through all the great food bites. This is an incredibly sweet read. Overall the book paces well, except for some lag in the middle, and if you can get past the third person present POV—which really is not hard to do if you concentrate on the story being told and not the words themselves.
Bastien. I love me some French ginger slightly OCD chef yumminess. Bastien started a French restaurant in Manhattan with his best friend, Jean. He is obsessed with all that entails, the ambiance as well as the food. And he works hard for his reputation of being the best. Bastien loves two things, his family and French cooking. When L’amour Dans La Ville receives a bad review from an up and coming food critic, Bastien takes it as his own personal failing. So, what does he do? He bakes. Making iced religieuses for his nieces bake sale would seem like overkill to anyone but him.
James is a confident guy. Being a food critic for the New York Times, he has made a name for himself as an up and coming voice in the culinary world. Writing the so/so critique of the new French restaurant in Manhattan is his job, one he generally enjoys very much. James comes from a huge family and it’s important to him, so when his brother asks him to attend the bake sale at his children’s school, of course James is going to attend. Finding a shy Frenchman with a table full of pastries is not what he expects out of his evening. Finding out said Frenchman is the chef at the restaurant he just gave a bad review to, is crushing. He is instantly attracted to Bastien and knows that the man will have nothing to do with him if he finds out the truth.
Annnnnd, this is where James gets dumb. Taking his older brother’s advice to ask Bastien out and not tell him who he is, is not the smartest thing the man has ever done. And the longer it goes, the harder it is to come clean. No, this plot is not a new one, but Meg Harding manages to make the journey to the HEA entertaining even when we all know what’s going to happen. I have to say that usually I am not a fan of lying by omission stories, it’s not a great way to start a relationship, but the clever way that Ms. Harding made up for that was original and I give her marks for that.
Overall, the French cooking bites are delicious. The secondary characters hold up their portions of the story, weaving in and out of the main characters’ lives. These are family men, both of them, and the secondary actors are important in the development of who these men are. I laughed at James’ family, and I adored Bastien’s niece, Avery.
I thought the title was clever. At first I thought dinner for one was a play on the fact that James is a food critic—except he never eats by himself, always taking his brother with him. I appreciated that it turned out to be a play on what James has to do to win Bastien’s affections back. That was refreshingly original, and I appreciated that he had to work for absolution; it wasn’t just given to him.
Low angst, high romance, amusing banter, hot guys, good sex with a little kink, an interesting plot and great writing. Sometimes it’s enough that two men fall in love.
You can buy Dinner for One here: