A Table by the Window
About This Book
Heirloom recipes, family secrets . . . and a chance for love.
The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?
After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.
Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?
The number one reason I wanted to read this book was its cover. I LOVE it!!! And I loved what was inside this cover, too! I seriously had to restrain myself while marking favorite passages as I read, ’cause I probably would’ve tagged every single page. More than once. So much sparkling talent here! Words bubbled off the page like pink champagne. I don’t normally enjoy 1st-person POV because it tends to feel claustrophobic to me, especially in a romance. But with the device of an online, long-distance dating relationship, the characters had to communicate with words, so I was able to see and know what Neil was thinking and feeling as well as Juliette. And overall, the characters were so well-developed that the 1st POV became a non-issue long before the end of Chapter One.
The book contains several actual recipes for the dishes Juliette cooks during the story, but I skipped over them because I didn’t want to lose the flow of the story. I may go back and read them some day, maybe even try them, but let’s be honest—my favorite food is still Kraft mac & cheese with hotdogs. Neil is the only character from this book I could ever invite to dinner.
This story didn’t move me to tears, but it still had plenty of heart and sentiment, and large doses of perfectly-timed comic relief. The family dynamics were flawlessly defined, and I could see each of Juliette’s siblings spearheading their own story, which is exactly how a secondary character should be written—like they’re the sun in their own little universe.
I would consider this story “edgy” overall. It’s not a faith-journey or salvation story, but rather portrays real Christians living in the real world. Characters in this book drink, smoke, are divorced, struggle at work, etc., and their faith is expressed in comfortable, familiar ways in which deeply-held beliefs don’t always need to be overtly explained. These are believers going about their everyday lives, and as such this book is easily relatable to a wider audience who may perceive Christian fiction as too “preachy.” I would gladly recommend this book to my non-Christian family and friends, knowing they wouldn’t feel like I was beating them over the head with my faith for asking them to read it.
For the record, I am thrilled beyond words that the opening of chapter of the sequel, Reservations for Two, was included at the back, because if those last chapters had been it, I’d have been forced to give this book a negative-52-star rating for leaving me hanging! But rest assured, there is more of these scrumptious characters to come, so go ahead an indulge on this feast. You’ll have plenty of time to sleep it off and catch a big game or two while eagerly anticipating the next course!
If anything, I might have liked to see a bit more external conflict for Juliette and Neil. In the end, the relationship was kept apart only by the heroine’s insecurities because Neil made it pretty clear distance wasn’t a problem. Perhaps it will become more of a conflict as the series goes on—say, he gets a great research grant or fellowship or something, while the restaurant takes off and she becomes integral to maintaining its success—so that, at some point, our lovers have to make real sacrifices to be together. So far, despite the distance, their romance has been pretty smooth sailing. I’d say it’s time for them to hit some rougher waters and find out what they’re truly made of.
This delectable story is My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Sleepless in Seattle. If the recipes don’t make your mouth water, the juicy writing certainly will!
Available March 18, 2014 from WaterBrook Multnomah