Title: The Lost Recipe for Happiness
Author: Barbara O’Neal
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Published: December 30th 2008 by Bantam Discovery
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2
In this sumptuous new novel, Barbara O’Neal offers readers a celebration of food, family, and love as a woman searches for the elusive ingredient we’re all hoping to find….
It’s the opportunity Elena Alvarez has been waiting for–the challenge of running her own kitchen in a world-class restaurant. Haunted by an accident of which she was the lone survivor, Elena knows better than anyone how to survive the odds. With her faithful dog, Alvin, and her grandmother’s recipes, Elena arrives in Colorado to find a restaurant in as desperate need of a fresh start as she is–and a man whose passionate approach to food and life rivals her own. Owner Julian Liswood is a name many people know but a man few do. He’s come to Aspen with a troubled teenage daughter and a dream of the kind of stability and love only a family can provide. But for Elena, old ghosts don’t die quietly, yet a chance to find happiness at last is worth the risk.
After reading How to Bake a Perfect Life (also by Barbara O’Neal) I had to have more of her stories! Based in Colorado, and in the kitchen – her writing style is perfect for this amateur baker from the Southern Front Range! The Lost Recipe For Happiness sounded cute, a chef in Aspen? And the cover was gorgeous too, so I dove right in. And I couldn’t put it down!
Barbara O’Neal’s writing is breathtaking, vivid and passionate. As you are turning the pages, you can clearly see the kitchen in the Orange Bear (Elena’s Restaurant in Aspen, Colorado) and you feel her aches and pains as well as her emotions. And the tamale’s that Ivan created? I can taste them, and left me with a craving for the real thing that would not go away until I had satisfied it with a tamale from my favorite local Mexican Eatery!
How to Bake a Perfect Life is a character driven novel, Elena has ghosts (literally) from her past and is struggling to overcome a tragedy that made her who she is. Julian is also filled with ghosts, and ex-wives that haunt him. Together? This is a couple that I could not get enough of, and found myself terribly saddened when the story was ending. I loved each and every one of the characters in this book, for different reasons. But one thing I have to give huge BRAVO to Miss O’Neal for is her Hispanic Characters!! Living in a highly Hispanic population, it’s rare to find such a great piece of fiction (especially romantic/chick-lit) that depicts the culture, passion and dedication as well as this story has!
This story had me craving tamales and a drive into New Mexico for days after finishing it! I absolutely adored every moment of my time spent inside these pages and found myself sad as it was coming to an end. Barbara O’Neal has quickly become a favorite of mine, and I highly recommend her books to anyone who loves a good character driven novel with a few delicious recipes thrown in!!