Friday, September 14, 2012

Off the Menu

by Stacey Ballis

Let me begin by saying that I really wanted to like this novel. Recommended by Jen Lancaster, Off the Menu features a great setting (Chicago), food & foodies, an adorable canine named Dumpling, and a little romance. What’s not to love?

Well, if I weren’t from Chicago, I’d be annoyed by the setting and the author’s constant geographical references (for insiders only). If I weren’t a devotee of Top Chef and all of those food and cooking networks, I would not like this novel. Finally, if I were looking to read a traditional romance, I’d be a little annoyed with this novel.

In a nutshell, Alana works as an executive culinary assistant to celebrity chef Patrick Conlon. This is not a 9-5 job; Alana is working for this guy 24/7. The money’s good, and Alana enjoys working behind the scenes.

But as she closes in on her fortieth birthday, Alana Ostermann wants more. And part of that more means a man. When she meets RJ online, she cannot believe her luck. He’s perfect for her. She’s perfect for him. Now, if only she can find a life/work balance. . .

I guess my beef with this romance is that there’s never any conflict between Alana and RJ. Nothing threatens to come between them. It’s all ooey-gooey fairy tale tripe. Ridiculous. And the celeb chef name-dropping is also quite annoying. That is all.


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