Rating: 4,25 stars out of 5
Four couples, four different stories — and one spicy Recipe for Romance from author Ari McKay!
Welcome to Montgomery House, Charleston’s finest restaurant. When you walk in the front doors of the stately former mansion, you’ll be surrounded by true Southern charm. Owner Rhys Montgomery will personally welcome you, while the tantalizing scents of Executive Chef Stephen Pierce’s latest culinary masterpiece linger in the air. Enjoy a walk in the gardens or an elegant meal in the dining room, as you watch the love stories play out around you…
Bay Leaves and Bachelors — Clay Turner’s heart was broken by a wealthy man who said he was boring. When rich, outgoing restaurateur Rhys Montgomery sets his sights on the quiet academic, drawn in by Clay’s intelligence and sex appeal, he finds he has an uphill battle to win Clay’s trust. Can Rhys burrow his way into Clay’s heart, or will Clay’s insecurity become a wall between them that not even true love can break down?
Fennel and Forgiveness — Seven years ago, Max Boyd broke Darius Cooper’s heart. Darius wanted a commitment, and Max wanted to focus on his career in Georgia’s television industry. Their ten year difference in age and experience tore them apart, but fate throws them back together when Max arrives at the Montgomery House, where Darius now works. Will Southern Wedding Belles bring them a second chance for love or is Darius’s trust too shattered for Max to heal?
Ginger and Gentlemen — Ian Pierce has lived in his older brother Stephen’s shadow his entire life, always feeling second best. His best friend, Matt Davis, is the only person he trusts to be on his side. Despite being in dire financial straits, Ian wants to refuse Stephen’s request to film an episode of Mouth of the South at Ian’s restaurant, but the bonus money offered in the contract is too much to resist. He accepts without knowing the hefty bonus comes from Matt, not the production company. Will Ian feel betrayed by the one person he trusts above all others when he finds out, or will Matt’s desire to help Ian succeed even at his own financial risk take them from friends to lovers at last?
Cinnamon and Seduction — Chef Stephen Pierce has talent and a determination to succeed that is matched only by his fierce temper and prickly personality. Yet his long-suffering personal assistant, Robert Logan, has carried a torch for Stephen since the day they met. Everyone around Montgomery House knows Robert is in love with Stephen — everyone, that is, except Stephen himself. Can Rhys, Clay, Darius, Max, Ian, and Matt find a way to make Stephen see that Robert is the perfect man for him, or will even Robert’s legendary talent for matchmaking fail to win him the man he loves?
I thought Recipe for Romance (Recipe for Romance #1-4) by Ari McKay was a wonderful read. I enjoyed the romances, especially the collection as it centered around a restaurant and it’s owner and staff. Each person from Montgomery House, a beautifully restored mansion in Charleston that’s now one of it’s finest restaurants, gets their own story here and HEA, starting with its owner Rhys Montgomery. So here are my thoughts on all the stories.
Bay Leaves and Bachelors: Rating 3 stars out of 5
I thought it interesting that Bay Leaves and Bachelors with Rhys and Clay is the only story where the two men aren’t either a couple with a previous romantic history or just a long history of friendship/established relationship of some sort. Rhys and Clay meet in Bay Leaves and Bachelors for the first time and have a rather quick instant love attraction that’s out of the norm for all the others. So in many ways it also strikes me as the weakest story of the four. I felt both characters were well done, including their passion for history and old buildings. The research element seemed authentic as did everything about Charleston, a place I’ve visited and loved. No, it was Clay’s reactions, the the unanswered questions about his job towards the end that just felt so off that it threw the entire story for me. I kept looking for answers in the other stories and never got them. Oh well.
Fennel and Forgiveness Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Darius Cooper runs the dining hall with precision and utter efficiency. It is his domain and his place of solace when need be. Now that’s about to change when the production company of the tv show Southern Wedding Belles arrives to film its pilot episode and brings with it his ex, Max Boyd. it’s been seven years since Max broke his heart when he left him in Atlanta saying he wasn’t ready for a commitment and now he’s here, the one place he thought he would never see him again. McKay gives us heartbreak made fresh again in two men who never stopped loving each other. There’s a age difference and a realistic lack of maturity that helped break them up the first time. The only thing this story needed was just a tiny bit more length to get the resolution and reunion perfect. Otherwise, I loved it.
Ginger and Gentlemen 4.5 stars out of 5
I almost want to review the next two stories together because they are about the Pierce brothers. Both chefs, one the fierce perfectionist terror of the Montgomery House kitchen, Stephen. He has the last story. And his younger brother Ian Pierce, who runs a retro dinner he owns in a small southern town, featuring home cooked food. With him in this endeavor is his childhood friend,Matt Davis. Ian’s dinner is in financial straits due to a former financial manager’s swindal, so when hiis brother offers to come film an episode of his new chef series (along with a healthy payment) at his dinner, Ian is hard pressed to say no even though they are estranged. I loved this story because it becomes about the harm one father does to his children by his favoritism and their disparate upbringing. This is full of angst, from both sides, years of pain built up and bursting all at once. On top of that we have a friends to lovers story evolving (for both brothers, both of whom have been ignoring what’s right in front of them for years). Two men yearning for two stubborn and in pain brothers. And the story will carry over into the next.
I think the brothers and their partners are by far my favorites with Stephen and Robert winning by a head.
Cinnamon and Seduction 5 stars out of 5
Stephen oh Stephen. Love this character. Imperious, wounded, marvelous Stephen and his equally exquisite Robert. They are in every story and steal them away to be honest. It’s hard to concentrate on any other couple when Robert and Stephen are in the room. They just have that extra something! So it’s fitting they close out the collection and get their HEA. What a fight it is to get them together as Stephen’s confidence has been shaken by the clashes with his brother and the memories of his childhood that it reawakened. Also the network loved the episode with Ian, all the tension and the brothers magnetism worked on air so they want more of them together….around the country. That means major changes in every part of his life. This story includes challenges, change, and an ability to be brave, for two men. Yes, it was my favorite story with my favorite characters.
What is also not to be missed is the recipes at the start of each story featuring the main ingredient listed in the title. You will want to copy them down to try them all at a later date. Just looking at them made my mouth water.
If you love contemporary romance, here are four stories in one place to enjoy. I recommend it highly.
Cover art absolutely works for the story. Love it.
Kindle Edition, Second Edition, 455 pages
Published June 28th 2019 by Self Published (first published November 5th 2013)
Edition Language English
SeriesRecipe for Romance #1-4