Portia Cuthcart runs to New York City after her husband and best friend cheat on her and her marriage falls apart, moving into the basement garden apartment in the old rundown brownstone that she and her two sisters inherited from their great aunt. She is not only trying to escape her failed marriage but also her own brand of family magic, "the knowing," that she thinks caused her beloved grandmother's death. "The knowing" is a feeling that Portia gets when she must cook something. She has no idea why, just that she must do it. After her grandmother's death, combined with her politician husband's disapproval of this power, she has shoved her abilities down and ignored them. But now having left Texas, she's going to have to face her talent and start cooking again.
The morning she moves into the apartment is the first time in a long time that she feels compelled to cook. It's also the morning she meets her rugged, very sexy upstairs neighbor, Gabriel Kane. Gabriel is the widowed father of a teen and a preteen, Miranda and Ariel, and he's bought the two upstairs apartments from Portia's sisters. Although Portia vows to steer clear of him, especially since he wants to buy her apartment and she has no intention of selling, she cannot help but be drawn into Ariel's life and therefore into Gabriel's. As she gets closer to Gabriel, Portia also learns allow herself to be who she is, opening a take-out café/bakery of sorts in her apartment with her sisters while they look for funding to open a complete restaurant.
This is a sweet and delicious love story, a tale of second chances and opening yourself up to what comes your way. The magic portrayed here is subtle and points to the kitchen and food as the heart of home and relationship. It allows Portia, despite her very real fears, to uncover secrets that need to be aired out and to help people heal, including herself. The development of Portia and Gabriel's relationship is not too fast and not too slow and the inclusion of Gabriel's less than loving mother and selfish brother serve to make his own character that much more appealing. Ariel is a charming child character, precocious but not annoying. Miranda, on the other hand, is a typical pill of a teenager. The book is organized into a multiple course menu, giving the reader some indication of where they are and where they are still going in this quirky treat of a novel. And for those readers who love recipes, this has some very tempting ones included at the end.
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Thanks to Staci from St. Martin's Press for sending me a copy of the book for review.