17 May 2012
Book Review: Recipe for Love by Sasha Wagstaff
Talented, passionate and notoriously private, Italian chef Rocco Disanti never talks to journalists. So why, when Cassia Blake has just three months to organise her wedding, has he suddenly granted her magazine an exclusive, all-access interview? Against Cassia's better judgement, she hands the wedding planning over to her frosty mother-in-law, and flies out to Italy to spend time with Rocco. But Rocco isn't exactly looking forward to Cassia's arrival. Persuaded to do the interview to help publicise his business, he has enough on his plate with his fiery girlfriend, wedding-obsessed sister and fiercely protective grandmother. And now it seems as if someone is trying to sabotage his restaurants too... Cassia's summer in Sorrento is shaping up to be a recipe for disaster. But could it also be a recipe for love?"
Sasha Wagstaff's last book, Heaven Scent, and her debut book Wicked Games, were magnificent reads and I have been eagerly awaiting her 2012 release Recipe for Love which was finally published last week. I think the cover is so gorgeous, and really fits in well with the idea of the book, the summery fun in Italy that the main story takes place in, and is just so lovely to look at. It's quite a big book, but I found myself getting through rather quickly, much to my annoyance, because I couldn't stop myself turning the pages and didn't want to stop, even though I didn't want to leave Cassia and co behind once the book had finished! Why did I love Recipe for Love so much? Well, here's why!
This is the story of British food writer Cassia, and her travels to Sorrento in Italy, to work with famous chef Rocco Disanti. Cassia is engaged to be married to Finn, and their wedding is happening in just a few months, yet when she's offered the opportunity to live and work in Sorrento for a few weeks, she just can't turn it down, much to the annoyance of Finn's mother Grace, who decides she'll plan the wedding for them instead. Cassia quickly falls in love with Italy - the sunshine, the food, and of course working with Rocco. But she can't seem to figure out the fiery chef - one minute he's hot, the next he's cool towards her, and it makes her begin to wonder about her life back in England and whether it's really what she wants. Will her trip to Italy end in a recipe for love?!
I love a book that when you're reading it, it totally and utterly transports you away from the reality of your everyday life and leaves you in the pages with the characters, and that is exactly what Recipe for Love did for me. Every time I picked it up, I forgot I was sitting on my sofa and instead I was absorbed into the world of Cassia in Sorento, or Grace and her son Finn in their lovely home planning the wedding of all weddings. Of course, my favourite scenes were those in Sorrento, with Wagstaff's descriptions of location, weather and food totally whetting my appetite, and have to be honest... made me more than a little hungry! The way Cassia writes in the book about food for her job as a food mag journalist is just tantalising, and I can see why she's such a success in her job! Italian food is amazing anyway, but when it's written about how Wagstaff does... wow!
The characters though are what makes this book so readable. They are so readable, and I thought each of them, however minor, all added something to the story and made it so much fun to read. The main character is Cassia, and although I wanted to give her a bit of a shake in parts about Finn, she was a great lead character, and was a good match for Rocco in the book. Rocco, a lovely Italian, dark and brooding chef, was your typical guy in the sense he couldn't admit to his feelings, but I loved how he ran his business and was so close to all of his family, certainly a male character to fall in love with! Then there's Finn, Cassia's fiancé who I hated straight away, and stayed that way throughout the book; his even worse mother Grace, just an awful woman; Diana, Cassia's mother, who is haunted by a past secret that she is carrying around; Cassia's sister Julia, again a pretty despicable human being who I couldn't feel sympathetic towards at all, Rocco's grandmother who was fab and Rocco's sister, a flamboyant and self-centred model who also happened to have a big heart and was so much fun to read, especially in scenes with the more stuffy Cassia.
Yes, there's quite a big cast, but because of the way Wagstaff wrote the book, I didn't have any problems keeping up at all. I loved how the action moved from London to Sorrento, to Vegas and back to Sorrento again. Wagstaff writes so beautifully about Sorrento, I wonder what research went into this because it really came alive in my mind as I was reading, and is now somewhere I definitely want to go! There are a lot of twists and turns in the book, and quite a few other storylines running alongside the main one with Cassia, so there was always something going on, and never a lull in the book at all. It had me totally absorbed from the first to the last page, and was a complete joy to read. I actually felt sad as I turned the last page, because I felt like I'd gotten to know the characters and was sad to leave them behind - that is the sign of a great writer. I thoroughly enjoyed Recipe for Love and think it's definitely one to be taking on your summer holidays! A gorgeous book of Italy, food and love - what more could you want?!
You can buy Recipe for Love as a paperback or an eBook now.