Colleen Collins is a big-city reporter who has just been canned from her job at a prestigious newspaper in Washington D.C. for telling the truth about her scheming boss. Dumped by her boyfriend soon after she being fired, Colleen falls into a depression and refuses to leave her home. When her friend offers her a job writing cozy cooking stories in Texas, Colleen has little choice but to take it, even though she feels it’s beneath her.
From the minute she arrives in San Saline Texas, Colleen feels desperately out of place. There’s no cell phone reception, only one channel on her ancient television and then there’s True McKitrick, better known as True the Tractor Man. True is a cowboy with an attitude who has a way of making Colleen feel like the biggest dope on earth.
However, as she begins to get to know the San Saline natives and take part in their customs, Colleen slowly realizes that maybe her big-city life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her attachment to San Saline gets even deeper when she develops feelings for True. Her life starts to make more sense than it has in a long time—until she gets a call from home, telling her to hurry back because she’s suddenly become famous. Will Colleen rush back to her former life, or will she stay with the new life, and love, she’s discovered in San Saline?
Texas Cooking, Lisa Wingate’s third novel, has a number of problems that keeps it from being a satisfying romance. Its got the clichéd romance character names (how many people do you know named Collie Collins and True the Tractor Man?) and the unbelievable plot device of someone’s life being changed in an incredibly short period of time (in this case, less than two weeks) by one man and a few supposedly endearingly down-homesy supporting characters. Wingate simply seems to be trying way too hard to concoct the perfect small town, and it just comes off as wrong. Coming from someone who grew up in a very small town, there just aren’t American towns in the twenty-first century that only get one channel (and a cowboy channel at that) on television, and where residents can’t make calls because wildlife sits on the phone lines. San Saline just doesn’t ring true, and neither does Collie and True’s rushed relationship.
Predictable and clichéd, Texas Cooking has little to offer other than a bit of light-hearted fluff—and even that doesn’t work out as well as it should.