REVIEW: A Touch of a Brogue by Christine Danse
Eric Rossi isn’t a bad person. But he’s been talked into doing some pretty regrettable things by the man he thought he loved–like write a fake review of a pub he never stepped foot in for a food magazine that makes or breaks restaurants in Portland. He’s since dumped the boyfriend, but he can’t undo the review or the damage it’s done to the Irish Sisters and its passionate owner, Colm.
When Colm paid to have his family pub shipped from Ireland to Oregon, he put his savings, his heritage, and his sanity on the line. Now he gets so few customers, he notices each one. Especially the sweet, shy man who is dragged into the pub by his pink-haired niece. He calls himself Mark, and he is a chef’s dream, a man who completely enjoys everything Colm cooks. What Colm doesn’t know is that the man he’s falling for is the critic who’s almost cost him everything.
Eric didn’t mean to fall in love with the Irish Sisters or its blue-eyed, Irish-American owner. He definitely didn’t mean to lie about his identity. He’s already done enough damage, after all. Now he must make things right for the restaurant and disappear from Colm’s life before Colm learns the devastating truth, because the last thing Eric wants to do is destroy the chef’s heart, too.
Dear Christine Danse,
It is quite possible that I am grading this story on a curve so to speak, but I had a terrible luck with the holiday stories this year. Heck I only finished three and out of those three only one was what I would call more or less good. This is an example of what I am looking for in my holiday stories. The True Magic of Christmas as I see it and I don’t even celebrate Christmas.
Eric, sweet guy who is also mostly a decent person and a good restaurant critic, got talked into writing a fake review by his boyfriend about the restaurant that his boyfriend (now Ex) imagined to be a competitor worthy of sabotage.
At the beginning of the story, Eric’s niece Jamie drags him into the restaurant and of course Eric recognizes right away where he is, but unable to give a good reason to Jamie why he does not want to go inside , the reason which won’t make Jamie scream at him that is.
The food is amazing. Eric loves it and and the owner makes an impression too. After looking up the restaurant online Eric finds weird bad reviews and realizes that restaurant is struggling and feels even worse about what he did.
“The Irish nachos turned out to be fresh, homemade potato chips topped with pulled pork, cheese, and other fixings. It looked absurd and decadent and utterly delicious. He took a bite. The chip crunched and the pork dissolved in his mouth. The cheddar was in that perfect state of melted but congealed enough to pull into strings. Before he realized he was finished with his coffee, another was sitting beside it. The second was just as good as the first and went down even smoother and quicker. He buzzed pleasantly on caffeine and alcohol.”
As an aside, I don’t know if the author made/makes a living as a food critic on the side, but her descriptions of food sure made me hungry.
Colm, the owner and the chef of “Irish Sisters” also notices Eric or Mark as Eric called himself when asked for introduction.
“COLM WAS WAY too pleased to see his blushing patron appear again that night. He hadn’t consciously recognized it until then, but the man had remained in his thoughts since the day before. He was just as charming and shy that night, though growing less shy as time wore on. The coffees brought such an absurdly pleased expression to the man’s face that Colm made sure he kept them coming. He’d already decided to “lose track” of them after the first. He figured he could do that, being the proprietor of the establishment. The man had utterly demolished the nachos. Now—most surprising, and most pleasing—he was singing. Colm found that ridiculous and endearing. And he wasn’t a half-bad singer. A little hoarse on some of the notes, but even those rasped Colm in a pleasurable way.”
I really liked this charming novella. It was not overwhelmingly sweet as holiday stories often are for me, but it had a lot of real kindness in it. It also had a character, who was full of remorse for what he did and while he did not go about it in a perfect way, he was determined to make up for what he did and help Colm and his establishment to bounce back from his fake review and attempted campaign of sabotage Colm’s ex-boyfriend attempted to do.
Erik *works* to fix his mistakes, he does not just say he is sorry and expects to be forgiven, and does not really stop when they reconcile. The story also shows us that decent people could do bad things and it is ok to be confused as to how to reconcile overall kindness and caring of their natures with stupid/cruel thing people can do.
The story is a beginning of their romance really, because Colm gets to say “Nice to meet you Eric” at the end of the last chapter, just before the epilogue however I was rooting for them to have a happy future ahead.