Sherry Thomas's excellent debut novel Private Arrangements showcased a writing style that is a definite step up from the mass of historical romances out there. Her second novel, Delicious,
features the same lyrical, fluid prose style and an interesting plot that isn't clear from the beginning of the book. However, in some ways this book
is less successful, perhaps because the heroine isn't that easy to like.
A few flashbacks introduce Verity Durant, a famous cook known for her scandalous love life: she is known to have been the mistress of her employer, Bertie Somerset. When Bertie dies, his half-brother inherits not only his house but also his cook. Stuart Somerset is engaged to be married and careful of his reputation in any case - he was born on the wrong side of the blanket and knows he can't put a step wrong in society.
But Verity knows Stuart already: he is the man for whom she has carried a torch for ten years. She keeps her identity hidden
- Stuart doesn't know that the woman he met a decade before was Bertie's cook -
but Verity can't help but show her feelings for Stuart by cooking him the most irresistible meals.
With Stuart's forthcoming wedding and Verity's checkered history, is there any chance for them to rediscover each other?
Sherry Thomas clearly knows how to write about food - reading Delicious is a mouthwatering experience, possibly in an over-the-top way. Verity's use
of food to make statements about her feelings towards people works well, but Verity herself
is slightly difficult to like. Her morality is suspect, and we don't have a complete explanation of how she ended up in her situation. There's also a rather convenient revelation at the end of the novel to make everything right,
but I'm not sure her past could have been ignored by others in society in reality. Historical accuracy is good in terms of events and food, but the dialogue is littered with
sometimes distracting Americanisms. Overall this is a very enjoyable read, but the central characterization
is slightly lacking, although the side-plot of Stuart's fiancée and his secretary
is well handled.