Thomas, Sherry. Delicious. (New York: Bantam, 2008). ISBN – 9780440244325.
Main Characters: Stuart Somerset and Verity Durant also William Marsden and Elizabeth Bessler
Description from book:
Forbidden pleasures are always sweetest . . . .
Famous in Paris, infamous in London, Verity Durant is as well-known for her mouthwatering cuisine as for her scandalous love life. But that’s the least of the surprises awaiting her new employer when he arrives at the estate of Fairleigh Park following the unexpected death of his brother.
To rising political star Stuart Somerset, Verity Durant is just a name and food is just food, until her first dish touches his lips. Only one other time had he felt such pure arousal – a dangerous night of passion with a stranger, who disappeared at dawn. Ten years is a long time to wait for the main course, but when Verity Durant arrives at his table, there’s only one thing that will satisfy Stuart’s appetite for more. But is his hunger for lust, revenge – or, that rarest of delicacies, love? For Verity’s past has a secret that could devour them both even as they reach for the most delicious fruit of all . . .
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure whether or not I would like this story. I went back and forth several times about whether or not I would actually buy the book (and yes, I do actually buy almost all of the books that I read). I finally decided that I had enjoyed Thomas’ first book Private Arrangements so much that I had to give Deliciousa chance. It took me awhile to actually get to the book. I have many unread books sitting around right now – including Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Acheron which I so want to read, but am admittedly a bit daunted by its girth! But now, I am so glad that I did buy Delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Delicious isn’t your average historical romance. The heroine is a middle-aged (ancient at 33 years of age) cook with an illegitimate child who had been, at one point, her employer’s mistress. She is also the daughter of a duke – one that is beyond estranged from her family. To stay close to her son, she stays at Fairleigh Park despite her breakup with her employer, Bertie Somerset and cooks her heart out. Meanwhile she pines for Bertie’s brother Stuart – a man that she spent one night with 10 years prior to the start of this book. Stuart had fallen in love with the young woman he rescued from a brutal attack. In fact, he had wanted to marry her. However, Verity didn’t want to face his rejection when he learned of her relationship with his brother. Verity left Stuart without ever giving him her name.
Stuart and Verity are kind of reunited when Bertie dies, and Stuart inherits Fairleigh Park. Stuart comes to Fairleigh Park for the funeral. While Verity does cook for him, they never meet. Verity deliberately keeps away from Stuart. The two first encounter each other half-way through the book. Verity still does not allow Stuart to see her face. It isn’t until Verity’s son shows Stuart a picture of his alleged mother that Stuart realizes that his cook, Madame Durant is the same woman that he once asked to be his wife – and this doesn’t actually happen until page 301 (out of 404 pages). Oddly, Stuart and Verity do not spend much time together in this book. In fact, I think that Stuart’s fiancee, Miss Bessler and his secretary William Marsden spend more time together in this book. I definitely was more caught up in the Bessler/Marsden story line. There was definitely better chemistry between Lizzy and William than between Verity and Stuart.
Overall, I am extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. I did find the ending a bit strange. Verity’s estranged aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Arlington, tries to force Stuart to give up Verity by pointing out that her checkered past will hurt his career. Once Stuart refuses to cast Verity aside, the Dowager seems to have a change of heart. It seems that she hasn’t been trying to keep the truth about Verity from surfacing, but has been trying to help her find true love – and a good marriage that would allow the Dowager to welcome her back into the family. While I could believe that the Dowager wanted to welcome her niece home, I did find it difficult to believe that all of the Dowager’s machinations throughout the years were intended to help Verity (but had the opposite affect). But still, this didn’t make me change my mind about the book. I’m definitely looking forward to Thomas’ future books!
Read first on August 8, 2008