Dear Ms. Marsh,
I’m trying to branch out in my Harlequin reading experiences so I decided to try your book in the “Romance” line. With no mention of secretaries, babies or royalty I decided to give it a go.
Recent widow Tamara Rayne is looking towards reentering the profession she gave up when she married a celebrity chef. With that in mind, she’s honing her food critic skills at the restaurant once co-owned by her husband Richard and his friend, entrepreneur Ethan Brooks. Even before Richard’s sudden death, Ethan had barely paid any attention to her so Tamara is amazed when Ethan begins to flirt with her.
Ethan had good reason to avoid Tamara since he didn’t think he could control his attraction to her and remain on good terms with Richard. But now that Tamara is available and seems to be getting over her grief at Richard’s death, Ethan decides to pounce. And what more romantic place to pursue her than on a luxurious trip across Tamara’s mother’s homeland of India. But has Ethan read Tamara correctly and is Tamara ready for another relationship just when she’s beginning to stand on her own two feet again?
This book should come with a warning. “Do not read if you’re hungry!” I loved all the stuff about the Indian cuisine. Names, ingredients, cooking techniques, the thought of having all those yummy foods laid out on a buffet for me to choose from…it made me want to rush out to my nearest Indian restaurant and pig out.
The details included about Tam and Ethan’s trip through India read like a fabulous travel brochure. I appreciate that though most of it details their luxurious accommodations, which one would expect given the fact that Ethan and probably Tam could afford the best, you do include mention of the poorer people in the country when Tam visits the beaches near Goa.
Tam is a food critic who takes her profession/job very seriously. She tests herself before she begins to ease back into the biz, she makes copious notes during her meals, she takes the time to savor the food she eats and works on imagining new ways to write about and share her love of good food. But one question. Shouldn’t food critics be unknown to the restaurants they visit in order to eliminate the staff catering to the critic?
If there’s two things this book has it’s endless vacillation and tons of mental lusting. I see what you’re saying about the Ethan being afraid of losing his control over his emotions and thus pulling back from feelings he feels overwhelmed by. I see that Tam was burned by her feelings in her first marriage and is hesitant to commit to a second relationship but the back and forth, push and pull of their “courtship” drove me bonkers after it had dragged on for so much of the book.
The same path gets trodden again and again. The same information is conveyed in almost the same way too many times. After hearing about the hero’s horrible childhood – including eating from dumpsters and being so hungry while he lived on the street – every third chapter at least, I began to skip these passages. And something so integral to the hero’s past and present behavior deserves to be read and not skipped. But honestly, I didn’t need yet one more repetition of the same material.
Ditto for the Tam’s ghastly first marriage. Richard was a jerk in private and she suffered because of it. I got it. He treated her like an object, belittled her, cheated on her and made her suffer. I understand. Tam resents the role she had to play in public as the grieving widow of the famous man so much it makes her want to scream. Yes, the point has been made. After reading it yet one more time, I was ready to scream.
Tam’s past marriage has made her hesitant and unsure of herself when facing a new romance. You carry this through in her reactions to Ethan’s pursuit. At first she is startled by his interest, then measured in her response to it, then willing to entertain the possibility, then willing to take a chance. Only to have him flip-flop yet again. I might have gotten tired of her acting spineless but I concede that you kept her reactions in tune with the background you’ve given her.
Ethan’s rags to riches background, on the other hand, didn’t work as well for me in explaining his hot and cold actions. Yes, he came through a terrible childhood but does that give him a free ticket to act as he does? I don’t think so and frankly had trouble getting over his initial plans to seduce Tam for the duration of their trip then drop her once they returned to Australia. This only increased once he got the feeling that her emotions were more deeply engaged and she might be falling in love.
I also didn’t buy their falling into each other’s arms at Goa. Too fast and too much of a turnaround. At this point, were I Tam, I wouldn’t have trusted Ethan that much. And then came the misunderstanding once they were back in Australia. Tam realizes the mistaken impression Ethan has about her marriage and still storms out? WTF? Her visit to her first husband’s mistress was also a wash-out for me. By this point, I was hoping that she had grown enough as a person and gained enough inner strength to at least give the woman a final, perfect come-uppant comment instead of just walking away. It only makes Tam look like the wimp Richard mocked her for being.
So while I enjoyed the fact that Tamara didn’t get knocked up in this book and that she’s not Ethan’s put upon secretary, too many other things didn’t work for me. Retreads of “I want her, no I must push her way” and “I’m so tired of acting the grieving widow in public, let me act spineless one more time” wore me down. Not even drooling over the food or picturing the glories of India were enough to make up for them. C-