By Adrianne Lee
(Grand Central Publishing)
September 3, 2013
Quint McCoy’s thirst for success as a realtor turned him into a workaholic who left both his wife and his parents feeling as if time with them rated considerably below job demands in Quint’s list of priorities. When his father dies unexpectedly and Quint realizes that he has lost forever his chance at the fishing trip with his dad that Quint has been postponing for a year, guilt and grief consume him. His real estate business suffers, and so does his marriage. Only in fishing does he find temporary relief from the emotional fallout of his dad’s death. When he takes a two-week fishing trip with his buddies, missing his second wedding anniversary in the process, it is another blow to his already shaky marriage. Unable to cope with his guilt and anger, he refuses to discuss their problems with his wife. Running away from her attempts to reach him, he shouts at her to divorce him.
Thirsty days fishing in the wilds of Alaska allows him to accept his father’s death and his own inability to change the things he regrets, but by the time he returns to his Montana home, his business has tanked and his wife has begun divorce proceedings. He discovers just how much he has lost when he finds that his mother, who owns the prime location where Quint had established his real estate office, has not only taken over the building for her pie shop, but she has also hired his indispensable office manager. His house is empty, and his wife has signed the final papers on their divorce and loaded her belongings in a U-haul, set to start a new life in Seattle.
Callee McCoy’s free-spirited mother died when Callee was only seven, leaving her to be brought up by a critical, emotionally unavailable grandmother. When Callee met Quint McCoy, she not only found the man she believed to be the love of her life but in his parents, Molly and Jimmy McCoy, she found the loving, accepting, supportive family that she had lacked after her mother’s death. Callee was devastated by Jimmy’s death, but she thought that she and Quint could comfort one another. Instead Quint’s isolation and anger left her reeling from an even greater loss. Callee may be among the walking wounded, but she’s determined with the help of her best friend, Roxy Nash, owner of a Seattle waterfront bistro, to fulfill some dreams she gave up on when she married. But before she leaves Kalispell, Montana, she needs to return the family heirloom ring Quint had given her and to say a final goodbye to Molly.
Neither Callee nor Quint is prepared to see the other at the Big Sky Pie Shop, but they are even less prepared for the shock of Molly’s heart attack. Thankful when she survives the attack and knowing that relieving Molly of all anxiety to keep her in the best shape to survive the heart surgery she is facing, they find themselves committing to do whatever it takes to see that the Big Sky Pie shop opens according to schedule. Spending time together leaves them unable to deny that the physical attraction between them is as strong as ever, but Callee has lost her faith in Quint and is questioning whether she ever truly loved him. Quint has a lot to make up for, but Molly must confront her own failures as well. In the meantime, in their desire to help Molly, they are discovering resources they never expected to use.
Book one in Lee’s Big Sky Pie series is a sizzling romance with a likeable cast of characters, both primary and secondary. Quint behaved like a jerk, but grief can affect people in dramatic ways. I found his guilt and anger credible, and I’ve seen firsthand how grief can threaten even apparently solid relationships. Callee’s emotional baggage complicates the situation. I found both these characters engaging, and I love the reunion trope. From the get go, I was rooting for a reconciliation.
The secondary characters add richness to the story. Molly is a darling, and even though Jimmy dies before the story begins, memories of his big heart and homespun wisdom make him a definite presence. Single-mother Andrea Lovette, Quint’s office manager and Callee’s friend, Quint and Callee’s best buds, and the young pastry chef all add dimensions to the book as well as tease readers with the possibilities for sequels.
All that keeps me from giving Delectable a high recommendation is that I felt Quint and Callee’s problems were resolved too easily. I would have enjoyed the book even more had there been less emphasis given to the hunka-burning-love scenes and more attention devoted to the actual repairing of the couple’s damaged relationship. The book is only around 50,000 words. Maybe it just needed a couple more chapters. I’m not convinced that Quint and Callee’s HEA won’t hit some major bumps in a few months or a few years. However, that dissatisfaction is not great enough to keep me from suggesting to you that this novel is worth a try nor from looking forward to other books in the series. Delicious, the story of Jane Wilson, the young pastry chef, releases December 3, and book 3, Delightful, on February 4, 2014. I haven’t been able to discover the protagonist of that one, but I have a list of four more characters whose stories I’m hoping to read. My top candidate is Quint’s widowed friend.
Lee includes a recipe for cherry pie that I am eager to try. Books with recipes are trendy now. Do you like them? Have you ever tried a recipe you discovered in a romance novel?