Author: Amy E. Reichert
Publication: Gallery Books, July 2015
Genre: Light romantic fiction
There’s a place named Milwaukee, Milwaukee!
Plot: Lou is the talented chef of a small and struggling French restaurant in Milwaukee that she opened with two close friends. One of Lou’s biggest challenges is juggling the needs of her business with the demands of her condescending fiancé Devlin, who does not take her foodie dreams seriously. As a surprise, she makes his favorite coconut cake for his birthday but her delivery reveals Devlin in a compromising position with another woman!
Upset and humiliated, Lou falls apart at the restaurant that night, just as the sarcastic new restaurant critic comes to sample the menu at Louella’s. Al is British and hates Wisconsin; when everything goes wrong with his meal, his vicious review writes itself, appearing under a pseudonym.
Depressed, Lou ends up in a bar later that night where she meets and befriends Al, without knowing who he is. They exchange names but pledge not to discuss work. Friendly Lou decides to show Al the lesser known aspects of Milwaukee that make her love her hometown, and bit by bit they fall in love. While Lou’s restaurant heads into bankruptcy Al’s reviews take off. However, it is just a matter of time until Lou finds out it was Al who destroyed her restaurant...
Audience: Fans of chick lit; fans of the movie, You’ve Got Mail
What I liked: This was a charming story, although beyond improbable and very predictable. If you can get past those aspects, Lou is a delightful heroine, if a bit too good to be true, and her determined efforts to reveal the charming side of Milwaukee are very endearing and made me wish she had been my guide on my long ago trip when I had only a copy of Betsy in Spite of Herself and the Gen Con attendees to keep me company.* I enjoyed the descriptions of hectic, behind-the-scenes restaurant life and liked her secondary characters, particularly Lou’s friends, Sue and Harley. Lou and Al are destined to be together, despite her inevitable feeling of betrayal when she learns he wrote the review that sent her restaurant to its doom. I doubt I could be so forgiving! However, it is a fun read and I am sure you will enjoy it.
* Elaine Koster, one of my worst bosses ever, insisted that she and I had to attend Gen Con although it was my birthday weekend and it was years before I had any friends in Wisconsin. Naturally, she canceled after I bought my plane ticket and I was stuck there, for the most part by myself, although I did have a nice dinner with then Waldenbooks SF/Fantasy buyer Jay Hyde at a lovely restaurant on the water that I think was called Eagan’s.