The writers of the Romance Roundtable got to know Sherry Thomas when she was kind enough to be a guest blogger during our first anniversary celebration.
It’s hard to believe that introduction was almost a year ago now, even before the resounding success of Sherry’s debut novel Private Arrangements, which hit store shelves last March. In her blog Sherry told the readers of RRT that she
[dreamed] for [her first book] to be embraced by someone who likes only Regencies . . . to be a good introduction to historicals for someone who reads nothing but contemporaries . . . [to] remind someone who’d left historicals behind of why she loved them in the first place . . . .
and when Lisa Kleypas says Sherry is [t]he most powerfully original historical romance author writing today, we can be assured that Sherry made those dreams a reality.
When Kelly suggested Delicious, Sherry’s July 2008 release, as the subject of this month’s review, Maura was thrilled to get the opportunity to become reacquainted with this talented author. To learn more about Sherry’s road to publication and to find some delicious Delicious recipes, please visit her website at www.sherrythomas.com
And without further ado-the reviews:
Maura: Let me first say that Delicious was . . . well . . . delicious. From the very first line I was hooked:
In retrospect people said it was a Cinderella story.
Since I’m a sucker for fairy tales of any kind, I knew from that one line that I would love this book. But then, when I was about nine pages in and I ran across this line . . .
She’d walked away from him, from hopes and dreams enough to spawn a generation of poets, so that he could be the man he was meant to be, the man whose face on her clipping she dared not touch.
. . . I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down. And I didn’t. I read this fabulous book in one sitting.
Verity Durant has not had an easy life. As the long-time cook of her one-time lover, she has a scandalous reputation, is the one servant in London whose name everyone seems to know. They know that one of their own has refused to let her go no matter the scandal it causes him. They know that they would pay a king’s ransom to lure her away from him. They know that one taste of any of her food gives the diner a touch of ecstasy like he has never known. What they don’t know is who this young woman really is. They don’t know that she has loved only one man these last 10 years, the one man she believes she can never have. They don’t know that she is . . . hmm . . . now that would give too much away.
Stuart Somerset is an up-and-coming political star. He’s pulled himself up from his birth on the wrong side of the blanket to become one of the most powerful voices in the Parliament. He has proposed to a long-time friend who will make a tremendous hostess. His life is just the way he wants it. He’s even learned to push one woman, one night so many years ago to the back of his mind. His goals are set and they are just within in his reach. He never expects his older brother to die at just 38. He never expects to inherit Fairleigh Park and the infamous cook along with it. He never expects to see her again.
Delicious is not your traditional Regency fare so common in today’s romance market. Set in 1892, its characters are flawed, extremely sensual, unique individuals who must find out if the galoshes . . . er . . . the slipper fits. Both Verity and Stuart have had to overcome obstacles in their lives. Both have had to change to adapt to the circumstances life has thrown their way. Both have had to move on without love since that one fateful night when the clock struck twelve. But fate and romance and Sherry Thomas have a way of creating magic that brings a deliciously happily-ever-after after all.
Kelly: After Sherry Thomas took the world of romantic literature by storm with her highly acclaimed debut novel, Private Arrangements, there was one prevailing question: Could she do it again?
The answer is an unqualified Yes.
Verity Durant is a woman who has made the same mistake again and again, each time thinking this will be the man with whom she can trust her heart, her life, her love. The most celebrated, and notorious, cook in all of England, she infuses her creations with all of the hopes, dreams, and desires she has forced herself to surrender for the sake of self-preservation. Though she is a servant, she commands a respect amongst her fellow staff and the guests of Farleigh Park unheard of for someone of her station. That is, until the new master arrives and refuses to be impressed with her emotionally-charged culinary creations. Then she’s determined to reawaken his palate, for food and for life, before she leaves Farleigh Park forever.
Stuart Somerset is a man who has known both the desolation of utter poverty and the extravagance of the upper class. The result of this dichotomy is a man to whom personal pleasure has evaporated in favor hard work, a Puritanistic lifestyle, and a determination to make good on the life he’s been given. When word comes that his brother, with whom he has always had a contentious relationship, has died, and he has inherited not only the family estate, but the cook who was once his brother’s lover, he is somewhat less than thrilled. That is, until he takes his first bite of a Madame Durant meal. Then he’s battling the passions that he has suppressed for ten years, since that fateful night when he first tasted what it meant to be loved.
Yes, the novel does incorporate elements of both the Cinderella fairy tale (which Ms. Thomas freely admits from the first sentence) and the novel Like Water For Chocolate, yet manages to be entirely fresh and distinctive in its own right. The characters, rather than being the archetypes one might expect, are beautifully flawed, and perhaps it is that fact that makes each one likeable – because we can empathize with the imperfections that make them unique.
Ultimately, this is a book about sacrifice. Each of the characters is willing to set aside that which they desire most for the sake of preserving the object of their affection. While the plight of our leading lady and her Prince Charming is heartwrenching from start to finish, and will have you holding your breath more than once to see if they will ever overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles before them (despite the fact that this is first and foremost a romance and happy endings are par for the course), the subplot is equally compelling. The supporting leads in Delicious are endearing, and it is a true delight to watch their story unfold. Ms. Thomas has once again given us a delectable story, and I, for one, ate up every word.