by Shirley Ann Wilder
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Bitter news leads a San Diego widow and widower to true love—and to a scheme to marry off their adult children, a plan that goes deliciously awry. Gaetano Lorenzo was the sweetest man that the widowed Estelle Bennett had ever met. That morning began terribly, with awful news, but now the owner and head chef of a local San Diego ristorante was offering up Italian delights: red wine, delicious food, walks on the beach, laughter when she’d never thought she’d laugh again…. Estelle felt twenty-five. She and Gaetano had found the recipe for love, and a simple variation might just get their adult children to settle down, too. A scoop of sugar, two ladlefuls of lust, a pinch of deception and a whole 24 oz.-can of danger— Suddenly, ingredients were coming from everywhere! But kitchens are crazy places, and variety is the spice of life. And for anything to get cooked, things have to get hot.
Too Many Cooks is a funny and sweet novel with an added touch of suspense. Set in San Diego, Wilder share with us the delightful story of a widowed woman and a widower who set into motion a scheme to marry off their adult children only to find something more. This was a delicious read that I consumed in a single evening.
The tale begins when we meet Estelle Bennett. She is a widower and mother to twenty-nine year old Alex a successful photographer who travels all over the world but remains single and unsettled. Estelle has just received the worse news and decides to stop for a drink in the middle of the afternoon. She stops at Gatetano’s restaurant for a glass of wine. Owner Gaetano Lorenzo loves preparing food and helping his customers. When he notices Estelle, he senses something is wrong and sets out to take care of her. He gets her the best wine, and hand selects her meal. Estelle is shocked when the handsome Gaetano sits and eats with her. The two quickly fall into conversation and share photos of their children. They talk about wanting their children to find someone and settle down. Gaetano has a lovely daughter named Gina, who spends all of her time winning cases as a lawyer and has no social life. After a few glasses of wine, and his kind words, Estelle shares her devastating news. The tale that unfolds is predictable but delightful as these two begin a friendship and set out to help their children.
I connected with Estelle and found her to be a witty, sensible woman. While she loved her deceased husband the feelings awakening in her have her glowing like a teen. While she works to deal with her new reality, she finds herself enjoying life. Gaetano is so lovable and how I think of a typical Italian father. He adores his daughter, loves his restaurant and meddles in the lives of people he cares about. I loved the interactions between Estelle and Gaetano. His sweet talk was both romantic and hilarious. Alex is devastatingly handsome and loves his job. He has had a tough time keeping a relationship, since his it requires so much travel. Gina cannot cook, is a neat freak and has to win in the court room. She’d like a social life but pressures at her firm keep her from pursuing one. Alex and Gina were hilarious together and watching them come together despite numerous obstacles was fun.
Wilder’s tale is character driven and the scenario used to take Estelle out of her comfort zone and smack dab into the joy of living was refreshing. While I will admit the plot was predictable, a twist in the tale added mystery and suspense. The story flowed well and the characters had depth and believability. I found myself rooting for them and became wrapped up in the outcome.
If you are looking for an enjoyable contemporary romance Too Many Cooks delivers a fun, sweet and fast paced tale. This is the perfect end of summer read and is sure to make you smile. I look forward to reading more of Shirley Ann Wilder’s work.
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