Author: Samantha Vérant
Publisher: Berkley Books
Format: Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 352
Date of Publication: December 6, 2022
My Rating: 4 Stars
A talented chef discovers how spices and scents can transport her--and, more importantly, how self-confidence can unlock the greatest magic of all: love--in this perfectly seasoned new novel by Samantha Vérant.
Kate Jenkins doesn't believe in fate. She believes in a clear vision, meticulous planning, and hard work in order to achieve her culinary dreams. On the cusp of opening her own Parisian restaurant, Bistro Exotique, she isn't even concerned when her standoffish--and annoyingly sexy--neighbor dismisses her as a crazy American tourist or when she meets the wildly eccentric Garrance, the self-proclaimed Spice Master of Paris, who ominously warns her of the previous owner's failures.
Confident and optimistic, Kate keeps calm and cooks on. Until a series of unfortunate events derail her plans and her entire staff quits.
Kate is about to throw in the kitchen towel on her lifelong dream when Garrance offers to use her mastery of scents and spices to help her, but it comes at a price: Kate must work with Garrance's son, Charles, a world-class chef and total jerk. After Kate hesitantly concedes to the deal, she slowly learns to open her heart and mind to new concepts, not quite sure if the magic she's experiencing comes from Garrance's spices, from within herself, or from the growing chemistry with Charles. One thing is certain, though: her kitchen is getting increasingly hot.
Kate Jenkins is finding herself quite distracted. She is about to open her own Parisian restaurant and she experiences problems from the very beginning. For one thing, running into her new neighbor is frustrating from the start. Then an accident almost ruins her restaurant’s opening. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. She strikes a deal with fellow business owner and another new neighbor Garrance. Garrance assures Kate that if she uses some of her exotic spices, her restaurant will be a sure success. The deal that Kate agrees to? Working with Garrance‘s son. Before Kate understands the implications of their agreement, she is bombarded with images and sensations that overwhelm her when gets any whiff of the exotic spices Garrance has to offer.
The other neighbor Kate disliked on site? None other than Garrance‘s son Charles. Kate might feel cornered, but she knows the reputation that Charles has when it comes to his cooking talents. Despite the friction that Kate and Charles have at the beginning, the pair begin to realize how drawn they are to each other. Could what is now happening between her and Charles have anything to do with those exotic spices of Garrance’s?
In this whimsical story by Samantha Vérant, chemistry is everything. Not only does the enemies-to lovers trope work will with this book, I love the humor in the story, especially when all Kate could ever call the gorgeous Charles was “Anti-Keanu”. She might be forced to work with him but she doesn’t have to like him. However, that seems to be completely out of her hands the more time they spend together.
A great setting, great food descriptions, enjoyable characters, including Kate’s delightful mother Cri-Cri, drama and chemistry all work well together to make this book quite a lovely read.
Many thanks to Berkley Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.