Title: Too Many Cooks
Author: Dana Bate
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher
*Warning: This review contains spoilers*
When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly’s new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer--movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips.
Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss’s neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there’s no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she’s gone too far in reaching for what she wants?
Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate is a very difficult book to review, why? Because I liked it and I didn’t like it at the same time. How is that possible? To explain that I need to give spoilers away, so you have been warned… twice.
There were things that I liked about Too Many Cooks, like the writing, I also liked the setting and I liked how food/cooking was almost a character in its own. Reading this book will make you hungry, that’s for sure.
Now on to what I didn’t like (here come the spoilers)… Kelly had a good, easy and stable life in Chicago with her perfect, sweet and calm boyfriend, who by the way was a doctor; but after her mother’s death Kelly realizes that although she loves her boyfriend, she’s not in love with him. He was good for her years back when she needed stability, but now she’s bored and wants more. Luckily for her, an opportunity comes just at the right time. Natasha Spencer, a famous American actress who lives in London and is married to a promising English politician needs a ghostwriter to help her with her cooking book. She offers Kelly a great salary, travel expenses and paid accommodation in exchange of her help testing and writing the recipes. Kelly doesn’t think it twice and soon after is traveling to London.
To Kelly’s great surprise, Natasha is a spoiled, demanding boss who doesn’t have a very clear idea of what recipes she wants to use in her book; but Kelly is willing to work hard on the recipes especially now that Natasha’s neglected husband, Hugh, loves her food and is paying attention to her. Natasha is busy and traveling a lot; at the same time, Kelly starts to spend more time with Hugh. One thing leads to another and they start to have an affair. Kelly justifies the affair because Natasha and Hugh sleep in separate rooms and according to Hugh Natasha has a lover in Paris. Soon after their affair starts they “fall in love” and supposedly Hugh is considering leaving Natasha. When Natasha learns of the affair she confronts Kelly and Kelly instead of saying she was sorry, she had the balls of not being even a little bit ashamed of her actions. In her righteous mind it was right and correct to sleep with Natasha’s husband because of their arrangements. She thinks she did nothing wrong and even tells Natasha Hugh is leaving her for her. Natasha laughs at that and fires her, something Kelly wasn’t expecting. Please!! You were sleeping with your boss’ husband, what were you expecting? A raise? A good letter of recommendation?
When this is happening Hugh is out of the city and doesn’t answer any of Kelly’s calls; when he finally comes to see her days later is to say he loves her, but he’s sorry because he’s going to work on his marriage, but not to worry, because Natasha promised him she won’t dirty her name. Really? No, no and no.
I hate infidelity in my stories; that is something I can’t justify in anyway. I know Natasha’s husband was mention on the blurb, but I never thought she would act on her attraction to her boss’ husband. Dana Bate tried hard to show how neglected Hugh was for him to be up for the takes, but no, he wasn’t. He was a married man; he was living with his wife and socializing with her. Sure, Natasha was a difficult woman and he had problems with her, but that is not an excuse for him to have an affair, even if allegedly she was also having one. If he was so tired of his relationship and was really considering divorcing his wife why Kelly couldn’t wait until he was a free man? I tried accepting their circumstances, I tried accepting their relationship, but I just couldn’t do it. Maybe if I could have been able to overlook that aspect of the story I would have loved this book, but I simply couldn’t.
Would I recommend Too Many Cooks? Sure, I would recommend it to those who like women’s fiction and are okay with infidelity. I’m planning to read other books by Dana Bate.
My Verdict: 3 ½ Paws
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