Margherita is a spirited young woman with a passion for cooking. When her heart is broken in Rome, she returns to her hometown of Roccafitta, a small Tuscan village filled with lovable eccentrics and beautiful vineyards. She dreams of saving enough money to reopen her late mother’s restaurant and hopes she may find help from the handsome stranger in town, Nicola Ravelli.
An aloof and ambitious businessman, Nicola is buying up the village’s vineyards and is also on the lookout for a personal chef. Though the two dislike one another immediately, Nicola agrees to pay Margherita well for each delicious meal she prepares to help win over his clients. But with each new dish, Nicola discovers that he is the one being seduced and Margherita realizes that she is expressing much more through her cooking than she cares to admit.
I am always partial to a book that takes me to sunny climes and if food is involved then that’s even better, the addition of an enticing cover meant that this book was starting to tick all the right boxes. Happily the story was equally entertaining and was a perfect holiday read.
Margherita was a fun and likeable character, determined to make a fresh start when she discovered her husband was having an affair. Despite his quite literally wanting to have his cake and eat it, she rejects his various pleas to come home and moves back to the small Tuscan village she grew up in. With her passion for cooking she is persuaded by her old friend to make a living as a chef, this brings her into contact with the handsome but less than sympathetic character of Nicola Ravelli. Let’s be honest, I think we all know in advance how the plot will run, it was a little formulaic, but that said, I didn’t care – I loved it.
The will they, won’t they romance aspect, didn’t just apply to Margherita and Nicola, but was a strand that applied to Margherita’s gambling addicted father and his dance teacher, as well as Margherita’s friend who had carried a torch for her since their school days. Add in the machinations of unrequited passion from a devious and jealous work colleague and there were plenty of sparks flying around to keep me reading. Those sparks got quite hot at times between Margherita and Nicola and they did not always restrict themselves to the kitchen so it did get a little hot and spicy!
I loved the depiction of the countryside and village life, and meeting the other villagers, I could easily imagine myself there. As far as I’m aware Roccafitta is a fictional village, but it could stand in for any Tuscan village of choice if you want to imagine your favourite and be transported. The other great feature of the book has to be the food. The descriptions of the ingredients, the creative process and the final presentation meant you could almost taste the food. As one of the authors, Gabriella Giacometti is also an accomplished cook, she clearly had a hand in this aspect of the story, which will really appeal to foodies. Better still, the book comes with recipes to go and try yourself – though I’m not sure I’d be able to source all the ingredients easily.
So in short, a fun, light-hearted romantic read, with beautifully described locations and mouth-watering food. A perfect, escapist read that worked for me.
I received an ecopy via NetGalley for review purposes.