To read an interview with Nancy DeRosa, please see the April edition of Uncaged Book Reviews.
Both books Top Reads for April.
Emma Craven’s four single friends join her at the table in their quest to find love, self-respect, and, above all, great food. Emma and Murry’s Grill chef Gary Parker have much in common. He loves to cook, she loves to eat—a match made in heaven. Or so Emma thinks at the onset until trouble arrives. Gary’s former girlfriend comes back on the scene, reed thin and confident, and wanting him back. Gary’s rejection shakes Emma’s belief in herself, making her question what she has to offer in a relationship. Determined not to become a bitter and disillusioned harpy like her boss’s wife, Emma decides to get over Gary and move on with her life. But that’s easier said than done, especially since every new man she meets and every bite of food she eats reminds her how much she misses the handsome, charismatic chef.
Uncaged Review: Normally, I am an action-loving reader. Edge of my seat, taking me out of my own world and into a new and exciting, even a fantastical one is my happy place. Character and dialog driven books are normally harder to pull off for me. But I have to hand it to the author, a tale of friends and family, and love and heartbreak, really grabbed a hold of me. Five women, whose friendships are what we all want in life, whom meet every Saturday night for dinner and drinks, keeping up with each other’s lives and a bond that keeps them together. We center around Emma, who can’t remember the last date she’d been on, has an okay job, great friends and a family she loves. When she meets a chef, Gary, she begins to see a chance for love, until his ex fiancé enters the picture.
A charming story, with likeable and realistic characters that you easily get attached to. Toss in some laugh out loud moments and some quirky moments that will keep you smiling with the hit and miss romances and you have a great recipe for a story that will stay with you for a while. My only complaint is with all the food that is served in this book, I was hungry constantly. I’m already mapping out new restaurants. Reviewed by Cyrene
Emma Craven’s excitement over marrying a chef is dimmed when her fiancé, Gary Parker, decides to open up a new restaurant. Against her better judgement, Emma soon finds herself the manager of The Green Spruce Grill. Her grades for her teaching-degree courses plummet. Her wedding plans are fraught with complications. And she now finds herself trying to please her family, friends, and Gary—all the while putting her own desires on the back burner. Making matters worse, Gary’s family shuns her, no matter what she does to try and win them over. Her dreams are slowly fading away, and she feels powerless to stop it. Desperate to halt the avalanche her life has become, she struggles to stand up for what she really wants. But her journey of self-discovery is more like an obstacle course—and if she can’t find the courage to stay true to herself, Emma risks losing not only the man she loves, but her self-respect and everything important to her as well…
Emma had a bad taste in her mouth and she hadn’t even sat down with Gary’s family for their first holiday dinner. Was this a bad omen of things to come?
Many hours and more traffic jams later, they finally pulled up to Gary’s childhood home. It was beautiful, just the sort of house Emma always hoped to own someday. It was a traditional white colonial, classic center hall, with black shutters. The cobble pathway curved up to the front steps in a most inviting way. A big red sleigh and three reindeer wrapped in tiny white lights welcomed tem on the front law. Emma gave a squeal of delight.
“Gary, you didn’t tell me you had lied in such a charming home. I love it. I can’t wait to see inside. It’s so late they’re probably on dessert by now.” Emma felt panic stricken.
Gary Laughed. “Don’t worry, they wouldn’t eat without us.”
Emma grabbed her overnight bag and practically skipped up the pathway toward the front steps. She rang the doorbell and waited in happy anticipation.
A small women with light blonde hair answered the door. She looked at Emma with limpid wet eyes. She didn’t greet her, nor did she smile. Feeling uncomfortable, Emma turned around toward the street and waited for Gary to rescue her.
Gary greeted his mother buoyantly, “Merry Christmas, Mom.”
Gary’s mother’s face suddenly lit up. “hello Gary.”
Gary proceeded to pick her up, swinging her around. Emma smiled as she watched them. When he finally put her down,, she beckoned them in.
“Mom,” Gary said as he put his arm around Emma. “Meet your future daughter-in-law. Emma, this is Carol. Mom, this is Emma.” Gary stood between them, beaming.
Emma put her hand out to grasp hers. “It’s nice to meet you Carol.”
Carol’s eyes flickered for a brief moment. Emma could swear she saw something unpleasant in that flicker. Just as quickly, it was gone.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you,” Carol said as she let her hand slide limply out of Emma’s grasp. “Come in. Let’s have a drink before dinner. You must be freezing and weary after that long trip. A nice glass of wine will warm you.”
“Hello Emma, I’m Frank, Gary’s Dad,” Frank said in a friendly greeting. Walking up to Emma, he gave her a wet kiss on her cheek. Emma liked him immediately He had the same reddish gold hair as Gary and the same warm smile. Gary’s sister Julie and her husband Dennis were in the foyer with their young daughter. Julie was also small like her mother with the same cold distant look in her eyes. Emma suddenly had an uneasy feeling as they all awkwardly stood in the foyer.
Uncaged Review: I want all these ladies as my friends. Every last one of them. Specially Emma. They are real, they have their own flaws and they mess up and then they own up to it. In the second installment, Emma and Gary are engaged, getting ready to open The Green Spruce Grill. Emma is trying her best to help with the opening of the restaurant and still going to school for her masters to be able to teach. The conflicts are tossed at Emma and she’s getting more and more overwhelmed and Gary seems to have tunnel vision for the restaurant to the point I wanted to club him or kick some sense into him.
Will it work out? You will have to read it. And you will love these books. The author takes you on a journey into some everyday lives with real emotions, some roadblocks that are obstacles everyday people will come up against, and how one group of friends and family deal with it through love, laughter and good food. But seriously, get yourself some carrot sticks and celery to munch on while reading these books. You’ll start hungering for foods and planning restaurant destinations. Reviewed by Cyrene