Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5:

Just Desserts coverWhen Scott Wren meets Boone Walton, he knows that this man is going to be an important part of his life, but since Boone seems aloof and uninterested in him sexually, he pursues friendship as the way to Boone’s heart instead.

Scott is a chef and has his own restaurant, which Boone helps him decorate and create the perfect ambience for dining in style. Boone owns an art gallery in New Orleans, and he’s renovated and decorated the building it’s in, the gallery itself, and his upstairs apartment with his own two hands. He knows what he’s doing. At least, he knows what he’s doing when it comes to business, but when it comes to Scott, he flounders.

Boone seems to be the only one who doesn’t realize that Scott has come to mean more to him than just a friend. He knows he’s attracted to Scott sexually, but is afraid to make a move because Scott sheds lovers like other men change clothes, and Boone couldn’t bear to lose him.

It isn’t until Scott tries out a new recipe for chocolate mousse from “Recipes for the Heart: Mystical Meals and Dangerous Desserts” by Granny B, that “things get sorted” as the cookbook stated they would. Scott and Boone are the only ones who enjoy the taste of the mousse. Scott’s boyfriend and Boone’s blind date think it tastes lousy. It doesn’t help that the ghost who haunts Scott’s apartment keeps flicking the lights on and off and filling the apartment with malodorous scents which are definite appetite suppressors.

They manage to get through dinner and afterward, at Scott’s request, when Boone removes his shirt to show the others his tattoos Scott suddenly realizes he’s jealous and loses his temper with both his boyfriend and Boone’s date. They need to get their hands off Boone! He literally kicks them out of the apartment, and it’s then that Scott and Boone realize that everything has been sorted, and they belong together.

Of course, nothing runs smoothly, and when Boone is visited by his former Japanese lover’s father, a man Boone both hates and fears, it looks like he may not live long enough to be with Scott after all.

I really enjoyed this story. There is so much drama, love, and heartache packed into this hundred plus pages that it’s unbelievable. I always enjoy Mary Calmes’s stories, with her clueless males, loved by others but unable to see how cute they are and how much they mean to others. This one, in a way, is stereotypical, in other ways it is not. The backstory on Boone was incredible, with his involvement in the Japanese mob, actively and inactively, his Japanese lover, and his survival of torture and imprisonment. The characters were well-developed, the plot plausible, and the ghost charming.

If you enjoy this series, don’t miss this one. It’s the best so far. It can certainly be read as a standalone and would make the perfect story to read at the beach or in front of a cozy fire on a cold day.
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Cover art by Reese Dante features the same color-themed background with cookbook as others in the series, with the addition of two servings of chocolate mousse complete with spoons. This is the dessert around which this story is built so the cover suits the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAll Romance (ARe)Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 102 pages
Published April 29th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleJust Desserts
ISBN139781632168610
edition languageEnglish
seriesTales of the Curious Cookbook

Tales of the Curious Cookbook series:

6 works, 5 primary works.
Five fun and fanciful stories about a rather curious cookbook!

Authors and Their Stories:

RJ Scott – For a Rainy Afternoon (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by R.J. Scott
Amy Lane – Food for Thought (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amy Lane
Marie Sexton – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton
Amber Kell – Cookies for Courting (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amber Kell
Mary Calmes – Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes
RJ Scott – Tales of the Curious Cookbook by R.J. Scott

 

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Lost Along the Way coverThe fourth in the Cookbook Series, each written by a different author, Marie Sexton brings us an amazing story in Lost Along the Way. It’s complex, heart-breaking, heart-warming, full of angst and simmering sexual tension, then topped with a sweet layer of love.

When Denver meteorologist, Daniel Whitaker, receives word that his parents have been killed in a car crash, his heart is broken. And it’s not only because they are dead—it’s because he’s been estranged from them for fifteen years and had only recently begun speaking to them again. Now his planned trip to his hometown of Laramie, Wyoming won’t be bringing the joy, healing, and peace he had thought it would. His parents rejected him when he told them he was gay and that he planned to spend his life with his soulmate, Chris. Though they aren’t legally married, he and Chris are still together, and Daniel thinks of him as his husband.

Three months later, Daniel finally makes his way to his parent’s home to begin the process of cleaning up and selling their house. He hadn’t needed to go there when they passed since they had made arrangements to be buried in their hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, and their neighbor, Landon Kushner, offered to take care of the house until Daniel could get there.

Landon is as far from Daniel’s imagination as he can get. Based on how beautifully he kept up the property, and the fact that he went through the kitchen and got rid of the perishables, Daniel pictures a neat and tidy middle-aged man. The reality is that Landon is gruff, built, sloppy, but sexy, with a beard that is far past neat and bordering on scruffy. But he has a heart of gold and offers to help Daniel sort and clean out the house. Daniel takes him up on the offer in exchange for giving Landon many of the knickknacks from the overly cluttered house. Each weekend they work together and Daniel sees more and more that Landon is all about joy and freedom. His wind sculptures—huge monstrosities of scrap metal are not ugly like Daniel first thought—they’re beautiful, wild creations that capture the spirit of both the land and the man who created them.

When “Recipes for the Heart: Mystical Meals and Dangerous Desserts” by Granny B. is delivered to Daniel’s address with Landon’s name on it, the real fun begins.

Daniel has been realizing more and more that he is happier on the weekends with Landon than he is on the weekdays at his job and with Chris. Chris has been cold and distant for months and turns down every opportunity to go to Laramie with Daniel. He also works evenings and weekends—when he is working and not losing another job. They have no sex life either, so as the stress of traveling back and forth and getting no support from Chris starts to wear on Daniel, he begins to wonder if they should stay together or break up. Then one morning after going for a jog, Daniel discovers that Landon has made bread from the Granny B cookbook and the sexual tension heats up. Each recipe in the cookbook solves a problem, or brings out an emotion, and apparently this particular bread brings on the sexual tension, so much so, that Daniel escapes quickly and goes home to shower. In the shower, he’s seized with images of Landon taking a shower at the same time across the street at his home. Though it’s in his imagination, the sex that follows feels very real, and it shows him that he really needs to do something about Chris.

What happens, and what Daniel finds out when he decides to make the meatloaf that is “for finding what was lost along the way”, shocks Daniel and turns his world upside down.

I really liked this story. I’ve always loved a slow burn/ust story and this one definitely has that and more. Plus, the characters are so well-described and their personalities so well-developed, that I felt like I knew them. To me, this is the best of the series to date. As I stated at the beginning of this review, it was romance at its best. This one is a beautiful love story of not only one man for another, but of family—both family of origin and family of the heart—and it’s one of those stories where the HEA is so worth the wait! Don’t hesitate to buy this book.

Cover Art by Reese Dante depicts a loaf of bread in front of an open cookbook. Since that bread features prominently in a very interesting scene in this story, the cover is perfect for this book and ties it to others in the series.

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner Press       All Romance (ARe)     Amazon        Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 128 pages
Published April 15th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleLost Along the Way
ISBN139781632168580
edition languageEnglish
seriesTales of the Curious Cookbook

Tales of the Curious Cookbook series:

6 works, 5 primary works.
Five fun and fanciful stories about a rather curious cookbook!

Authors and Their Stories:

RJ Scott – For a Rainy Afternoon (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by R.J. Scott
Amy Lane – Food for Thought (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amy Lane
Marie Sexton – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton
Amber Kell – Cookies for Courting (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amber Kell
Mary Calmes – Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes
RJ Scott – Tales of the Curious Cookbook by R.J. Scott

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – Food for Thought ( Tales of the Curious Cookbook #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5:

Food for Thought coverEmmett Gant was planning to tell his father something really important one Sunday morning—but his father passed away first. Now, nearly three years later, Emmett can’t seem to clear up who he should be with—the girl with the apple cheeks and the awesome family, or his snarky neighbor, Keegan, who never sees his family but who makes Emmett really happy just by coming over to chat.

Emmett needs clarity.

Fortunately for Emmett, his best friend’s mom has a cookbook that promises to give Emmett insight and good food, and Emmett is intrigued. After the cookbook follows him home, Emmett and Keegan decide to make the recipe “For Clarity,” and what ensues is both very clear—and a little surprising, especially to Emmett’s girlfriend. Emmett is going to have to think hard about his past and the really important thing he forgot to tell his father if he wants to get the recipe for love just right.

The second story in the new series, Tales of the Curious Cookbook, features tall, socially awkward, shy Emmett Gant who has not been able to act on his desire for another man since he broke up with Jordyn, his college roommate and first love, three years ago. On the day he had been planning to come out to his father, he discovered his dad had passed away alone at his home. Devastated, and unable to vocalize the fact that he is gay to anyone else because, after all, he tried to tell his father but he died first so now he can’t tell anyone, and he turns to the solution of dating a woman.

He’s a pretty emotionally damaged young man in want, in need, of a big family of his own. When he was a kid he was “adopted” by his best friend Vinnie’s large and boisterous family and that’s what he wants for his life now. Thinking that being married to a female is the key to that happiness, he’s been dating Christine, but he’s been unable to go further than to kiss her. Even his new best friend, Keegan, the cute guy who befriended him when he bought his home in a neighborhood not far from his workplace, discourages him from pursuing Christine.

Emmett needs to have clarity, to be able to see the truth about himself as others see him and Flora, Vinne’s mom, has just the solution. She presents him with a copy of an old handwritten cookbook, Recipes for the Heart: Mystical Meals and Dangerous Desserts, by Granny B. He can’t believe she’d entrust him with something that should be a family heirloom and tries to leave it behind, but he finds it in his car when he gets back home.

The key to Emmett’s issues is found in that cookbook with a recipe for beet porridge—the recipe for clarity. He and Keegan decide to make that recipe, and though the recipe itself is a disaster, the outcome is not. Both men find the truth and each other <spoiler> and unfortunately, Christine finds both of them in bed!</spoiler> But clarity indeed does ensue because Emmett pulls up his big boy panties and sets out to make things right—first with Christine, and then with his dad, and finally with Keegan.

This was a short, but very sweet and emotionally charged story. Hey, it’s Amy Lane—of course, there’s emotion! It amazes me that she can wrap characters around my heart as quickly as she does, and she fills in family relationships with a few quick strokes of her keyboard, yet they are rich in detail and serve as a strong support for the MCs.

I recommend this story to all lovers of M/M romance, but especially to those who love an emotionally damaged hero who finds the strength to accept love and move forward toward his HEA.

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Cover Art by Reese Dante depicts a cat in front of an open cookbook. Emmett’s cat, George, is featured prominently in this cookbook story, making the cover perfect for this book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press     All Romance (ARe)       Amazon         Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 92 pages
Published April 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
original title Food for Thought
ISBN13 9781632168597
edition language English
series Tales of the Curious Cookbook

Tales of the Curious Cookbook series:

6 works, 5 primary works.
Five fun and fanciful stories about a rather curious cookbook!

Authors and Their Stories:

RJ Scott – For a Rainy Afternoon (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by R.J. Scott
Amy Lane – Food for Thought (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amy Lane
Marie Sexton – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton
Amber Kell – Cookies for Courting (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amber Kell
Mary Calmes – Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes
RJ Scott – Tales of the Curious Cookbook by R.J. Scott

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review –For a Rainy Afternoon (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

For A Rainy Afternoon cover

Robbie MacIntyre manages a small post office in the old Station House on the outskirts of sleepy Barton Hartshourn northwest of London. He’s stunned when the owner, Maggie, a close friend, bequeaths him not only the post office, but also Station House.

The rest of her estate is left to an American writer, Jason Young, and when he moves to the village, Robbie is thrown by the attraction he has for the man who has more of a claim on the Station House than he does.

Then there is a box that holds several rare first editions and a cookbook. Only when the secrets of the ingredients in a particular recipe are finally revealed does everything begin to make sense, and a love cut short seventy years earlier is finally discovered.

The first book in the new series, Tales of the Curious Cookbook, this story takes place in England where Robbie MacIntyre manages a small post office-slash-bookstore-slash-coffee-shop-slash-art gallery in the old Station House owned by his good friend Maggie Simmons. He’s been doing this work for about ten years—ever since Maggie offered him the position to help ground him when he was at loose ends after he graduated with a degree in art. He’s devastated when Maggie passes away and even more shocked when he finds out that she’s left the Station House to him.

But more intriguing is the fact that she left her home, Apple Tree Cottage, to an American. Jason Young is the great grandson of Maggie’s sister who immigrated to America after the war. He’s a writer who happens to be gorgeous and in need of help when the water tank at the cottage rusts out and floods the place. Robbie offers him a place to stay and a shoulder to lean on, and the two become friends.

While the cottage is being worked on, they retrieve a box holding several rare first editions of one of Robbie’s favorite mystery writers and an old handwritten cookbook, Recipes for the Heart: Mystical Meals and Dangerous Desserts, by Granny B. The book is organized by sections and marked by emotions. For example, there are recipes for foods that are for sadness, or finding what was lost, or inspiring passion. The one Robbie most likes is for applesauce cake because it was Maggie’s favorite, and he hasn’t been able to match it exactly even though she had given him the recipe. This cake is for finding love. The mystery in this story is what happens when the guys stumble upon information about Maggie’s past which includes a lost love and a separation from her sister and her family. There’s humor and heartache, romance, and adventure to be found. And when the new recipe for applesauce cake, aka the recipe for love, is followed, the boys finally find their way to their HEA.

This is a sweet short story, perfect as the kickoff for the new series. RJ Scott’s style is very evident throughout the story up to and including the building of a wonderfully matched pair of MCs. I recommend this to all who enjoy a bit of a history mystery and a little whimsy with their M/M romance.

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Cover Art by Reese Dante depicts two apples propped on a table in front of a propped up open cookbook. Since apples and Apple Tree Cottage feature prominently in this cookbook series, the picture fits the book perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press    All Romance (ARe)   Amazon      Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 66 pages
Published April 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original title For a Rainy Afternoon
ISBN13 9781632168603
edition language English
url http://rjscottauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/for-rainy-afternoon.html
series Tales of the Curious Cookbook

Tales of the Curious Cookbook series:

6 works, 5 primary works.
Five fun and fanciful stories about a rather curious cookbook!

Authors and Their Stories:

RJ Scott – For a Rainy Afternoon (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by R.J. Scott
Amy Lane – Food for Thought (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amy Lane
Marie Sexton – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton
Amber Kell – Cookies for Courting (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amber Kell
Mary Calmes – Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes
RJ Scott – Tales of the Curious Cookbook by R.J. Scott