Title: The Romance Recipe
Author: Ruby Barrett
Publication Date: July 12, 2022
Sub Genre(s): LGBTQIA+, Contemporary
Summary: Amy Chambers: restaurant owner, micromanager, control freak.
Amy will do anything to revive her ailing restaurant, including hiring a former reality-show finalist with good connections and a lot to prove. But her hopes that Sophie’s skills and celebrity status would bring her restaurant back from the brink of failure are beginning to wane…
Sophie Brunet: grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer.
Sophie just wants to cook. She doesn’t want to constantly post on social media for her dead-in-the-water reality TV career, she doesn’t want to deal with Amy’s take-charge personality and she doesn’t want to think about what her attraction to her boss might mean…
Then, an opportunity: a new foodie TV show might provide the exposure they need. An uneasy truce is fine for starters, but making their dreams come true means making some personal and painful sacrifices and soon, there’s more than just the restaurant at stake.—From Goodreads
What I Liked: With more and more LGBTQ romance books being published, it’s still rare to find one featuring a bisexual character, especially one who is just figuring out her sexuality. In that regard, Sophie is an interesting character in that she finds herself questioning who she is personally as well as professionally. Barrett does a great job in exploring this new world for Sophie and the complications it can bring to her life. I also loved the spin on the work/power dynamic trope between Amy and Sophie. Neither is the boss of the other, but Amy doesn’t seem to understand that so seeing her loosen the grip she has on her restaurant and welcome Sophie into the fold was wonderful to read. Even without the romance between the two, them becoming partners in the business was heartwarming and a nice addition to the love story.
What I Didn’t Like: This book is described as being about an opportunity these women have to get their restaurant on a foodie tv show yet there is very little to do with the tv show throughout the story and it isn’t until the very end that the show even plays a significant role in the narrative. I was expecting much more of the book to be devoted to this plot line and was surprised when it was barely discussed. Additionally, while I believe Sophie was a fully realized character, I struggled with Amy, specifically the motivations behind her attitude towards Sophie in the beginning. I love a good enemies-to-lovers story but I need to know why they are enemies and I don’t think Barrett was able to show this fully.
Who Should Read It: Fans of LGBTQ+ romances will find a lot to like about this one, especially Sophie’s story arc and the message of being true to yourself. I also think fans of foodie romances will enjoy this one.
Review Wrap Up: This was a fun, surprisingly emotional romance that I found entertaining and well-written. Despite a few minor issues, I think this a book worth picking up if you’re looking for a romance featuring characters not normally seen in this type of story. The romance was steamy and enjoyable, and I was rooting for Amy and Sophie the entire time.
Favorite Quote: “I don’t need to put our love on camera to know it’s real.”