REVIEW: Delicious by Susan Mallery (Buchanan Book 1)
Dear Ms. Mallery:
I’ve gone on a bit of a Mallery glom and the readers here will have to suffer along with me. Delicious is the second book I read in the Buchanan series. I read book 2, Irresistible, first. I’m not sure whether knowing the outcome of the story in Delicious affected my enjoyment of it, but I found the chemistry in Delicious to be a bit tepid. (Of course, PW gave it a Starred Review, so what do I know?) However, there was a lot to like in the story and didn’t stall my 6 book Mallery gorging.
Delicious is a second chance at love story where Cal Buchanan and Penny Jackson, formerly married to each other, reunite, fall in love all over again, and get to take another stab at the elusive HEA. Three years ago, Penny walked out on Cal and he never fought to get her back. Ostensibly Penny walked out because she didn’t believe that Cal loved her and Cal never convinced her otherwise. One thing that Penny wanted more than anything was to have children but Cal was very unenthused. She got pregnant, had a miscarriage, and their marriage fell apart after that.
Now Cal needs Penny because the flagship restaurant of the Buchanan empire is in trouble. (As a side note, I had trouble grasping that a family owning four restaurants in Seattle made an empire, but whatever). Penny is an up and coming chef and Cal needs her to turn the restaurant around. Penny enjoys seeing Cal need her for something since he was so emotionally unavailable during their marriage. Penny accepts but she is pregnant and doesn’t tell Cal right away. Why Penny’s pregnancy would matter to Cal is beyond me, but apparently it does and everybody knows it from Penny to Cal to Cal’s brother, Reid (who happens to be Penny’s friend).
The problem is that Cal and Penny, while they shared a past, hadn’t had contact in three years and when they came back together, it was as if they had never been apart. Penny fell back into bed with Cal fairly easily which seemed shocking given that he was relieved when she had a miscarriage during their marriage. Cal’s jealous response to the fact that Penny was pregnant (artificially) also seemed in direct contradiction to his belief that he wasn’t ready to be a father. At one point, after necking, Cal thinks to himself “It was strange. Two months ago, he’d never given Penny a thought.” That’s how I felt. That these two characters, particularly Cal, had very little interest in each other prior to coming into contact once again.
I could appreciate the emotional intensity that involved Cal’s resolution of his emotional distance but overall, I didn’t really buy into the idea that the two, Cal and Penny, belonged together. Cal’s situation was one in which he didn’t seem to be able to love Penny in the way that she deserved even after he had his breakthrough. C