I stayed up all night reading this book, and was totally wiped out by the time I finished it, but I just COULD NOT put it down. A keeper - probably my number 2 favorite for 2008, right behind Duke of Shadows by Meridith Duran. I cried a couple of times, I laughed, and I was as giddy as a kid at the ending. Sherry Thomas outdid herself this time. This is clearly a Cinderella story, but her tiara is a little on the tarnished side. I loved her, though. And the hero is absolutely to die for. He is so restrained in every other aspect of his life, except for when it comes to the heroine. because he's genuinely head over heels in love, he breaks his every rule for her. You can't help but love him.
This book includes a few of the elements that I found problematic with Thomas' first book, Private Arrangements. There's a long separation of ten years, liberal use of flashbacks to provide the backstory, but I generally think this was not as heavy-handed as I found them in the previous book, and the circumstances between the H&H were so different, things like the separation made sense, and I didn't have that same incredulity regarding true love through a long separation. In this case, the heroine left the hero after one night together, and given her connection to him (which he doesn't know about at the time), it was actually pretty noble of her to disappear. And maybe a little selfish of her too, as he wouldn't have been a happy camper when he found out who she was. He carries a torch for her for ten years, though. And the anticipation of them being reunited kept me squirming on the edge of my seat until it finally happens. And talk about sweet & romantic - Prince Charming keeps her galoshes that she leaves behind for 10 years. Cleans them up, wraps them in tissue and puts them in a box (taking them out to occasionally pine over).
It's too hard to explain the separation & why it takes a while for the romance to kick back into high gear when they see each other again without giving spoilers. And I don't want to give any spoilers because this book is so good, you just have to read it for yourself. The flashbacks meshed well with the storyline. Used sparingly for a few chapters, as needed to give you the needed backstory. The secondary romance was well done too - which I also don't want to spoil by giving away any details. It had a strong storyline without being too much of a distraction, and the main characters' HEA sort of depends to some degree on it working out - or at least you have that sense of it at the time. I didn't initially like the heroine of the secondary romance, but came to understand her, and then grew to like her as the story evolved.
Anyway, I VERY highly recommend getting this one, even if you end up buying it new. It's well worth it. It's going on my keeper shelf - forever. I will definitely read it again.
Sensuality Rating: R
I found this to be a wonderfully sexy Regency period historical about a woman who has suffered very hard knocks in life along with discovering her unique culinary skills. She creates the kind of food that brings those fortunate enough to dine at her table to the heights of ecstasy. The hero is a man who is haunted by a beautiful woman with whom he had one night of bliss and then she is gone. Fate brings these two fascinating people together through a haunting set of circumstances...and the road to realized dreams will be rocky and very sensual. I loved it.
Did not like the use of flashback in this book. Took away from the building of the romance between the two characters. Also, the hiding of the heroine's identity was quite unbelievable. I actually didn't finish the book, because near the end, I realized I just didn't care about the hero & heroine.
The one bright spot was the secondary plot. Another romance. That one worked for me. Good sexual tension. Loved the dialogue. But still didn't save the book for me.
Guess Sherry Thomas is just not my cup of tea. Gave it three stars for the subplot and the writing style.
Superbly written, sublimely romantic, and poignant. A very unusual historical romance with atypical heroine and situation. An all-nighter for sure.
Taking place in the very late 1800's, the heroine, Verity, is a chef who had a notorious affair with her employer. Her backstory is filled with unsuitable and unladylike behavior and a revelation or two casting her only in a worse light. She drinks, smokes, has sex.
Yet Sherry Thomas makes Verity an appealing and sympathetic character and Stuart a surprisingly sexy and romantic hero. This novel is full of beautiful language and a deep and abiding love that has withstood the test of many years.
Sherry Thomas creates tension right from the start of the book and keeps it going to the end. Passion, sexual tension, longing - the ingredients of a cherished loved story.
The love scenes are fairly short although one of them is extremely steamy for all it's lack of detail and brevity. The situations are sexy and the passion is palpable.