Book Review: The Love Goddess' Cooking School

Nancy's Review of The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate

In The Love Goddess’ Cooking School, Holly Maguire leaves California after a tough break-up to visit her grandmother, Camilla, on Blue Crab Island in Maine. Shortly after Holly arrives, Camilla passes away, leaving Holly to pick up the pieces and continue her grandmother’s legacy by running her Italian food store and teaching cooking classes. The only problem is that Holly doesn’t know how to cook that well, despite watching her grandmother cook when she was younger. Holly is grief stricken and lacks confidence in her abilities in the kitchen. She must push through her obstacles in order to honor her grandmother. In the process, she meets a group of interesting people who sign up for her first cooking class. One of them is an eleven year old girl named Mia who is determined to learn to cook for her single father, so that he won’t marry his girlfriend who Mia hates. Holly takes Mia under her wing, growing very close to Mia and her dad, Liam, but his girlfriend and an unexpected long-term visit from his ex-wife make everything very complicated. Holly is also determined to start getting catering jobs, so that she can make enough money to keep the business she inherited open. While getting to know the people of Blue Crab Island and reading her grandmother’s diary, Holly discovers secrets from the past and present. She learns more than she ever thought she would about her newfound friends, her family, and most importantly, herself.

Senate writes beautifully from start to finish. She paints an engaging an inviting picture of life on Blue Crab Island and all of its quirky residents. Holly’s shortcomings will be easy for readers to relate to and they will be rooting for her to succeed all the way until the last page. Her relationship with Mia is heartwarming, giving Holly a chance to display her motherly instincts, even though she doesn’t have children of her own yet. The other characters are well developed and will keep readers interested throughout the novel. The drawback of this book is that Holly’s grandmother, Camilla, is not in any of the scenes since she is deceased. Readers learn about her through her diary and Holly’s memories. Camilla seems like such an engaging, wise, and fun woman that it is really a shame that she is not physically present in the story. Understandably, her death is the catalyst for Holly’s journey but, most likely, readers will close the book still wanting to learn more about her. If the story were restructured a bit, perhaps Camilla could have been in a nursing home or in the hospital or had some other reason for needing Holly to take over, that way Holly could have still had an adventure and also spoken to Camilla. But then it would have been a very different book. Overall, The Love Goddess’ Cooking School is an enchanting story that will capture the hearts of foodies and hopeless romantics.
Melissa Senate is the author of ten novels in adult fiction and young adult fiction including See Jane Date, The Solomon Sisters Wise Up, Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?, Theodora Twist, The Breakup Club, Love You To Death, Questions to Ask Before Marrying, The Secret of Joy, The Mosts, and The Love Goddess' Cooking School. Check out our interview with her here to learn more about how she started her writing career.

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