Cookies for Courting (Tales of the Curious Cookbook Book 4)
Author: Amber Kell
Genre: Gay Romance
Warnings: Part of the Tales of the Curious Cookbook series. However, each book can be read as a standalone and in any order.
Length: 68 pages (novella)
After his sister’s death, businessman Marshall Hunter gains custody of his niece. Unused to children, Marshall struggles to connect with her. In an effort to make her more comfortable in her new home, he hires professional muralist Pace Barlow to personalize her room.
Pace is intrigued by his tiny client, and even more interested in her handsome uncle, but Pace isn’t certain he’s ready for the commitment of an instant family.
When Marshall decides to move for the sake of his niece, will he be able to keep his relationship with his young artist, or will he have to give up love to become a good father for a lonely little girl?
The love baked into an old-fashioned recipe might bring the two men together, but some things take more than magical cookies to fix.
Why I love it?
I liked how Amber Kell incorporated the overall theme of the series, the mysterious cookbook written by even more mysterious Granny B., by just having the cookbook inherited by the housekeeper, Ilona. I think it was very cheeky of Ilona to have continually made the cookies for courting for her employer, Marshall Hunter.
To be honest, I really don’t know what happened with this story. I love many of Amber Kell’s books, so I was expecting her to give the characters in this book the same amount of love that she gives her other characters. While the characters were pleasant, they lacked a certain level of intensity. Perhaps it was because none of the characters really had ongoing problem in this book. Marshall and his niece had just lost their sister and mother, respectively, but Marshall was clearly dedicated to making the relationship with his niece work, and to helping her get past her loss. Marshall, who certainly had enough caring people around him to support him through this difficult time, didn’t quite need to have a boyfriend. Pace crossing his path was just a happy coincidence, and he decided to carpe diem.
My favorite character in this book was Marshall’s niece, Alice. Even though she was going to a period of mourning, she still had that spunky, almost defiant, energy that most children her age have. I loved how the little family unit comprising of Marshall, Alice, Ilona, and Joyce (Marshall secretary), really worked together to make sure they could provide a good environment for Alice to grow up in. It reinforces one of my favorite themes in books: you can make or choose your own family, even if your true blood relatives aren’t as supportive as you would like. This definitely showed near the end of the story, when Alice’s grandparents kidnapped her in order to have access to her trust fund.
The epilogue was sweet, showing that Pace did indeed take the plunge into domestic life with the Hunter family. I loved how Ilona gave the cookbook to Alice, because she didn’t have any children of her own, and she really did love the Hunters as if they were her own. We also got to see a love-struck teenage Alice, who knew just the recipe to use to see if her and her crush, Jack, were meant to be together.
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