Title: The Lost Recipe for Happiness
Author: Barbara O’Neal
Release Date: December 30, 2008
Publisher: Bantam Discovery
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Elena Alvarez has been fired from her job at sous chef at a successful restaurant…again. She knows her firing was personal, rather than professional, because the head chef was jealous of an editorial on the restaurant that had featured her, rather than him. She also knows that she’ll be rehired sooner rather than later.
However, before she gets an apology, Elena is approached by Julian Liswood, a celebrity who enjoys opening restaurants, and has successfully done so several times. He wants her to move to Aspen and start a new restaurant with him. Will Elena take a chance, risking everything for professional success and a chance at personal healing?
The Lost Recipe for Happiness was an entertaining women’s fiction novel about a woman who seems to have everything on the surface, yet she is broken underneath. Elena is a world-class sous chef at the beginning of this book. She seems to be completely satisfied professionally, and her life gets even better when she’s offered the position of Executive Chef at Julian Liswood’s new restaurant.
However, Elena is very broken physically and emotionally. She has physical problems because of a car accident she was in when she was seventeen, and as a result she is in constant pain – not a good thing for a chef, who has to be on her feet most of the time. Additionally, Elena is emotionally stunted from the death of her sister in that same car accident, which she still hasn’t really dealt with.
Barbara O’Neal does an amazing job developing characters in The Lost Recipe for Happiness. The novel is told from both Elena’s and Julian’s points of view, and they’re both very compelling characters. O’Neal gets the reader involved with their lives, which becomes the main driving force in the novel. These are characters you can really get to know and love, which is perfect since the book revolves around them.
The details about running a restaurant and being a chef were engrossing, and only serve to increase the reader’s interest in The Lost Recipe for Happiness. It was interesting to watch Elena’s ideas about the restaurant and recipes come to fruition.
There are very detailed and explicit love scenes in this novel, which may bother some readers if you are sensitive to that sort of thing. While it didn’t bother me, they seemed unnecessary. Additionally, there is a storyline that involves Elena’s past and the ghost of her sister, and while it is interesting at some times, at others I felt like it took away from the main storyline. I also thought the ending of this plotline was a little rushed.
The Lost Recipe for Happiness was an enjoyable read that really warms the reader to the core. Women’s fiction fans won’t be able to get enough of Elena and Julian; like me, they’ll be eagerly anticipating Barbara O’Neal’s next novel!