Rating: 3 stars
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Robbie was uncertain what was next for him in life when Maggie, an elderly woman in town, offered him the manager’s position at the small post office and café. The two developed a close friendship over the years, but Robbie is stunned when Maggie leaves him the building in her will. The other half of her estate is left to Jason, an American author who has never met Maggie, and who arrives in the small English village Robbie lives in. Robbie is attracted to Jason immediately and together they work to solve the mystery of the remaining possessions Maggie has left to them, which include a box containing old novels and a cookbook. The books may just be the key to discovering a decades old love story and a brand new love for Robbie and Jason.
Cookbooks have always held an intrigue for me. I have an extensive collection and have been a contributor to many as well. When I heard about the Tales of the Curious Cookbook series and how a cookbook was related to all of the stories, I was undoubtedly intrigued. We meet Maggie and Robbie first, as Robbie is our narrator, and get quickly caught up on their friendship. Maggie is on page briefly, but her presence remains a strong character throughout the book. There were little bits of real life sprinkled throughout Robbie’s early musings. Robbie is still saddened over Maggie’s passing when Jason arrives at this home from NYC. Neither Robbie nor Jason were highly developed characters. We learn a little more about Robbie as we are in his head, but Jason is significantly less developed. We know he has a trust fund and is a writer, but not much else.
The tone of the story is very somber as Robbie and Jason try to piece together the books that Maggie left along with clues to her former love. Robbie came across as rather self involved as he would realize something else he never knew about Maggie, but never thought to ask her. The relationship between the two men lacked that initial spark, heat, or passion, as their pairing was more comfortable and read as an extension of friendship. While the pacing of the story was slow, there was a lot that the story was trying to accomplish. A lot of Jason’s ancestry was brought in with mention of several great-great relatives in a somewhat dismissive tone and Robbie mentioned he had a hard time following along. Throughout the story there were a few explanations started only for one character to simply mention it was a “long story,” and it was then dismissed. The cookbook makes several appearances, but we never do learn the origin of it or what it was about it that meant so much to Maggie. Robbie tries to recreate Maggie’https://joyfullyjay.com/wp-admin/edit.phps well loved applesauce cake several times throughout the book. Fact: baking is predominantly about science. While there is certainly something to be said about being successful when you enjoy what it is you are doing, if you use a coffee mug as a measuring tool, you then cannot blame the recipe when the cake is not edible. The warm feeling of eating homemade applesauce cake on a rainy afternoon with the one you grow to love, with perhaps a touch of magic mixed in, was what this story was trying to promote. Overall, this story was just okay for me. It read with a lack of overall spark and it may have tried to accomplish too much within the confines of its pages.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.