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Delicious

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Delicious (2008) Sherry Thomas

Set in England in 1892.

This was a fun story–and one full of loving descriptions of food. It also has main characters who are middle aged (30s may not sound middle aged nowdays, but it would have been at a time when most people died in their 50s and 60s.)

Verity Durant is an infamous chef. Her meals are divine, and according to gossip, so are other things.

After her initial diaster-laden months as Monsieur David’s apprentice, in the Marquess of Londonderry’s household, Verity had realized, to her own and everyone else’s amazement, that she was talented before a stove. She had a sensitive nose, an unpolluted palate, and a manual dexterity rivaling that of a circus juggler’s.

Stuart Somerset is a bastard, legitimized by an act of Parliament, and long at odds with his half-brother, Bertram “Bertie” Somerset.

Sir Francis had willed to Stuart everything that was not entailed. The Lords Justices of Appeal, before whom the case had eventually gone, had given Stuart the Somerset town house on Grosvenor Square. But without the rent-rich urban tracts that went to Bertie, the sheep land that Stuart received couldn’t generate enough income for the upkeep of such a house.

But when Bertie dies, Stuart inherits everything–including his brother’s chef.

One of the things I like is that you are told from the start that the couple will end up together, that this is a Cinderella story, and the Cinderella theme comes up throughout the tale.

“I’m afraid I haven’t the luxury of a footman.”

“Why not?”

She looked and sounded highborn enough to have half a dozen footmen at her disposal. She was too old—and too striking-looking—to not already be married. Had she slipped out for an adulterous rendezvous?

She lifted her head. Their eyes met. The skin just above his collarbone tingled. “Haven’t got any lizards in my kitchen,” she said, a trace of wistfulness beneath her matter-of-fact tone.

Her answer made no sense until he recalled that in Perrault’s story of Cinderella—his and Bertie’s governess had been an enthusiast of such tales—lizards were what the Fairy Godmother had turned into footmen, to accompany Cinderella on her nocturnal forays into Society.

“Not a pumpkin in your kitchen either?”

Her lips curved slightly. “Pumpkins aren’t in season.”

The story jumps back and forth in time, which I like as a way to learn about the characters pasts.

I won’t say I loved the ploy of Verity always hiding her face when she sees Stuart. That felt ridiculously contrived, but… it did work.

One the I did love, however, was how there weren’t good and bad people–just people. Bertie starts out as almost a caricature of a bad guy, but in the end is just a complicated gentleman.

Stuart thought of the boys in the photograph, their hands held tight. Seven years later they would despise each other. For the next twenty years they would communicate only through intermediaries, sustaining the hostilities as if the bonds of brotherhood had never meant a thing.

I also very much liked Marsden, Stuart’s secretary. His part starts out small, but then the more I learned about him, the more I liked and respected him.

“I want a reprieve from seating people. Tell me about music hall.”

He dropped his pen. He picked it up and blotted the droplets of ink that had splattered onto the seating chart. “It’s an amusing way to spend an evening.”

“You know what I mean,” she insisted.

He flashed her a smile that was as bright as a theatrical footlight. “Music hall is an actionable offense in this country. I’ll need an inducement to expound upon it.”

She glanced at him from underneath her lashes. “What inducement?”

“Symphonic concerts.”

Her heart bounded high enough to knock against her palate. “I beg your pardon?”

He looked at her steadily and the air around her thickened into pudding. At last he said, “I want to hear about your experience at symphonic concerts. Did you like it?”

She dragged the Debrett’s from across the desk and opened it to a random page. They hadn’t had to use it. He seemed to know everyone’s pedigree and precedence by heart. “What would you say if I said I did?”

“I’ve been asking myself that very same thing,” he said. “I decided that I hoped you liked it.”

“Why?”

“Because you could have been ruined over it, you stupid woman. At least you should have enjoyed it while you were at it.”

I found him utterly delightful by the end of the book.

This is, very much, a boinking book, but at least the boinking was an important part of the story. And it was, despite the boinking, a very enjoyable story.
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher: Bantam

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Romance     Comments (0)    



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