Today’s review features the latest contemporary novel from author Hillary Manton Lodge, Reservations for Two. This is the second book in her “Two Blue Doors” series about character Juliette D’Alisa’s journey as she opens a new restaurant with her brother, Nico, uncovers secrets of her family heritage, maintains a long-distance romantic relationship, and remains involved in all sorts of family drama.
This book picks up right where the first one (A Table by the Window) left off, in Provence, France. While a person doesn’t have to read the books in order to enjoy the series, I think reading the first would allow a deeper understanding and appreciation for the characters.
Book Summary: A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places
Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.
Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?
As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?Story was fun and flowed nicely. Settings were just fabulous – the story opens in the French countryside (anyone want to visit a lavender farm with me?), then the characters travel to Paris, Italy, and back to the states.
My thoughts: Like the first book in the series, Hillary has included several fun elements that add to the story — I’m talking about several tantalizing recipes sprinkled through the chapters. They made me hungry at 1am. And, fun little quotes about food or cooking at the beginning of each chapter.
I love that the story is told from the first person narrative. It’s like Juliette is telling the reader her story, her thoughts.
I also really like the inclusion of old letters between Juliette’s grandmother, Mirielle, and her sister and love from pre-WWII France. This is a secondary story, really, that unfolds a little at a time with some suspense as to what will become of some of Mirielle’s family. These letters offered a unique addition to the storyline and a clever way to encourage Juliette through her challenges.
There is one small thing I want to point out about this story. While it is categorized as “Christian fiction”, it doesn’t have as strong of a spiritual message or focus unlike many books in this genre. The faith of the characters is present through the book, though not addressed in a super-direct way. I had no problem with it being presented as a background theme, however. It was clearly an important part of the characters’ lives.
Overall, this was an easy and interesting read. It’s not all fun and games, though — it deals with some real relationship issues, like sacrifice and the value of family. Excuse me for a second while I give myself some advice: in the future, wait until full series are published, that way I don’t have to wait a year for the conclusion of the story! Actually, I definitely don’t regret reading this one! But I am anxious to read the conclusion of this “Two Blue Doors” series in 2016!
Visit Hillary’s blog here for more info – and recipes! (She’s recently posted a tiramisu recipe from this book!!!)
Thank you to the publisher for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review! I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through the Blogging for Books program for this review.