Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Spice Maser at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Verant
Published by Berkley on December 6, 2022
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble
Kate Jenkins doesn't believe in fate. She believes in a clear vision, meticulous planning, and hard work in order to achieve her culinary dreams. On the cusp of opening her own Parisian restaurant, Bistro Exotique, she isn't even concerned when her standoffish--and annoyingly sexy--neighbor dismisses her as a crazy American tourist or when she meets the wildly eccentric Garrance, the self-proclaimed Spice Master of Paris, who ominously warns her of the previous owner's failures.
Confident and optimistic, Kate keeps calm and cooks on. Until a series of unfortunate events derail her plans and her entire staff quits.
Kate is about to throw in the kitchen towel on her lifelong dream when Garrance offers to use her mastery of scents and spices to help her, but it comes at a price: Kate must work with Garrance's son, Charles, a world-class chef and total jerk. After Kate hesitantly concedes to the deal, she slowly learns to open her heart and mind to new concepts, not quite sure if the magic she's experiencing comes from Garrance's spices, from within herself, or from the growing chemistry with Charles. One thing is certain, though: her kitchen is getting increasingly hot.
I was excited to read The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique. I’m a foodie sort or at least I enjoy reading about cooking and chefs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect. There’s nothing wrong with the book. It’s more my personal tastes or rather distastes.
The setting was in Paris with Kate starting her own restaurant after culinary school and years of working in top places. The annoying but attractive Charles lives in the building where her restaurant is the main floor and they each have apartments on higher floors. The previous restaurant there had some shady dealings and the owner turned up dead. Kate got a deal on the place and is excited to have her own place.
And I just didn’t care. The characters and plots felt to me like the kind of cozy mysteries I don’t enjoy where they are so quirky and unrealistic. Charles and his family are international billionaires. Kate’s mother is a sex therapist. Crazy, unusual things happen as she works on opening the restaurant. It doesn’t seem like Kate has to work very hard or pay bills, and can take off for whatever at a moment’s notice.
There is not enough cooking and menu planning for me either. There was a short scene going to the fish market. Some cooking of dishes but not really much detail on them. The other big thing was the psychedelic imaginings when Kate used the spices she was gifted. I just skipped to the next paragraph.
The enemies to lovers switch happened rather quickly. I guess from the tension and attraction, they got to know each other as they worked together. The change was over a short time.
This was not for me. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I think I would like more of the story revolving around food and the restaurant too. Sorry this didn’t work out!
It’s not a bad book; it’s me. The style is not what I prefer but others may really enjoy it.
I’m sorry to hear this one didn’t do it for you.
It’s me, not the book I think.
Well, I guess they can’t all be good reading experiences. That title certainly implies there would be more foodie scenes. Onward and upward, Anne💜
yeah, it’s a good book, just not for me.
I struggle with books that feel quirky or over the top just for the sake of being quirky or over the top. It can definitely pull me out of the story. Too bad this one didn’t work for you as the premise does sound good.
IK!! I love the premise and books about food. It had some of that but the style was just not for me.
I read this too and while I enjoyed it a bit more than you did, I can totally see your points.
Thanks Wendy. I saw your review and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Like I said, not the book, it was just not for me.
I was offered this one and didn’t have time to fit it in. I think that’s a good thing. Obviously it was written in such a way that the story didn’t make much of an impact. Oh well, on to the next one! Thanks for the honest review, Anne!
Some people have really liked it. The style just wasn’t for me and the characters didn’t change that feeling.
I was kind of excited when I opened this post since this book is new to me. Now, I have a better idea why I haven’t heard much about it. I hope that your next read is easier to connect with.
I’m sure that other people enjoyed it. I read some great reviews but it’s not for me. There are other books in this genre I have loved.
Ugh, sorry to hear this one didn’t work out for you. I think everything you mentioned would have bothered me as well.
Thanks. I love foodie books but this one just wasn’t the one for me.
Sounds cute; sorry it didn’t work for you. Sometimes I find that I probably would have enjoyed a book more at a different point in my life… tastes change.
Maybe, I don’t think I’m ever going to have more patience if I feel it is too quirky or unrealistic. I was more patient when I was younger and gave them a chance, now I’m just like, you bore me. The characters can totally overcome that if I become attached to them. It’s a blend of things, complex, and not simple or linear. This one was not for me.
Sorry it didn’t work for you.
Well not every book will work for everyone I guess.
Hmm, this one was on my TBR, but it sounds like it is missing a lot of the things I usually enjoy about foodie books. I’ll keep it on my TBR for a day when I have nothing else to read, lol. Great review!
Thanks Lisa. It was just too quirky for me without the progression I needed in the plot. You may love it. It just didn’t feel right for me.
Oh, too bad it was disappointing for you. It’s still on my list, here’s hoping for the best.
I hope you enjoy it much more than I did. It just wasn’t for me.