REVIEW: Luscious by Amanda UsenThursday, August 30, 2012 1:00
I’ve been curious how Amanda Usen would write Olivia Marconi’s story, ever since reading how her life is spiraling out of control in Scrumptious. Olivia had it all at one time. She loves being a chef. She owns and operates her own restaurant, Chameleon. Her BFF bakes her heart out, giving their customers sweet delights. And Olivia had a husband she thought she loved. Yes, that last part is definitely past tense. And everything else is very quickly following suit.
After all the shenanigans Keith put her through, after the divorce is now final, Olivia no longer finds pleasure in Chameleon’s kitchen. Watching Marlene and Joe together only makes her uncomfortable and out of sorts, despite how happy she is for them in their new-found happiness. At her lowest, Olivia needs comfort, the touch of someone who at least cares. So she turns to long-time friend and divorce attorney – her divorce attorney – Sean. Who promptly turns her down. Humiliated, Olivia puts her house up for sale, leaves the restaurant in her friends’ hands, and heads for Italy to give all the bad news to her parents.
But Sean now wants what he wasn’t willing to give before. Enough that when a client wants him to serve divorce papers in Italy, Sean takes the opportunity to keep Olivia in his sights. He realizes she’s confused by his behavior, so slowly seducing her over the next week is his plan. And the man does a fine job of that. He starts with whispering in her ear every erotic thing he wants to do to her. Then it’s the little things that begin to win her over once they make it to Villa Farfalla, her parents’ inn in Verona. Sean does his best to keep Olivia to himself, but there’s too many others demanding her time.
Especially her mother. Olivia is one of those who has a hard time saying no. Especially to her mother. Olivia also has difficulty admitting failure. Especially to her mother. Mrs. Marconi doesn’t need an iron hand when she has a way of running top speed over everyone in her path, forcing them to do whatever she wants. Now, don’t take that to mean she’s a bad person. She’s not. Mamma is just trying to hold things together and she needs her daughter to help. Olivia doesn’t want to be in the kitchen, but she won’t tell her mother to back off. But that’s a good thing, because she ultimately comes to certain conclusions about herself.
Once she opens up to Sean, they enjoy each other with a passion. It’s one of those things where you can’t wait to see your lover again, even though he or she just walked away. There’s hand holding and other playfulness going on beneath the dinner table. Hot, sensuous looks that promise so much more later. An easy banter spurred on by moments of sheer fun. Suddenly both Sean and Olivia want more than a week in Italy. However, it’s Sean who feels he can’t take Olivia away from her new life, her new start after so much heartache. So when an emergency text comes from home, he decides to walk away. Now, I know we’ve read this before in a lot of romance novels, but very rarely does the hero realize the error of his ways before he gets too far down the road. Ms. Usen throws a kink into Sean’s plans – actually, a couple of them – that makes the man react and then think. So this hero does everyone proud.
Olivia also has her moment in making her parents proud, finally standing up to her mother when she discovers exactly what she needs in her life. And that’s not only Sean. She seizes an opportunity that comes out of the blue, and she knows it’s perfect for her now that her confidence is back. There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding the “chef” at the inn, but it’s nothing dark and sinister, just emotional and heartfelt. Then, of course, there’s the food that’s prepared throughout this story. Some really yummy stuff, all thanks to Ms. Usen’s culinary background that gives credence to Olivia’s talent in the kitchen. Very nicely done.
If you’re looking for a fun, quick read, something to lighten your heart by the end, this book, and its predecessor, is just what you need.
Newly divorced chef Olivia Marconi is balanced on the knife-edge of a major meltdown. A week in Italy with Sean, her hot divorce attorney–not to mention the fantastic food and wine–sounds like the perfect getaway. If only she wasn’t there to break her parents’ hearts by quitting the family business. Sean’s attention makes her feel brave, desirable, and adventurous again. But Sean is hiding something, and Olivia is short on trust these days. Can a romantic interlude in Italy turn into something more, or will it all go up in smoke?
Read an excerpt.
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