This book centers around food and our relationship with it. Our heroine, Melanie, lost 140 pounds to get her life/health back just before we meet her, and opened a healthy food store where the food actually tastes like food. However, her husband decides he wants a divorce because he’s been having an affair with her heavy former co-worker. Melanie is trying to get her life back on track while juggling her new business, new condo and newly single status.
Each chapter starts with a vignette from Melanie’s childhood surrounding a specific food. And to my delight there are recipes for all these foods in the back of the book. Even if I hadn’t fallen in love with the story, I’d be buying my own copy of this book just for that! Melanie has a great chosen family, made up of a colleague from culinary school and his boyfriend, a woman from a local women’s shelter that cooks with her and a young woman who ends up becoming her roommate and part-time helper in the cafe. Each of the characters is well-drawn and I feel like I could go to Chicago and visit them at Dining By Design.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Stacey Ballis book without romance. Melanie meets a man at the Holocaust Museum in DC (no, seriously!) and they start a relationship back in Chicago. There weren’t any huge, ridiculous fights or unrealistic dates. Without giving anything away, I like how nothing is wrapped up or too finished when the book ends. I can easily envision all of the characters continuing on with their lives in Chicago after the book leaves them.