The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate

7960890I’m piteously behind on the reading challenge, but I keep plugging along. When my commute changes this fall, I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to catch up or at least read more than one book a month.

Melissa Senate has been one of my favorite authors since I first saw See Jane Date on Lifetime and decided to read the book it was based on. Sometimes, her books are funny, sometimes poignant. But this one was just exactly what I needed to read today, as I’m moving apartments and spending most of the day just sitting, waiting for various deliveries and technicians to make their appointments. It’s a story of coming to a new, old place and finding yourself at home, making old traditions your own and creating a life for yourself that you always knew you deserved.

I loved the main character, who comes back to a tiny town in Maine, as her grandmother passes, and takes over her grandmother’s cooking school. She’s brokenhearted, but quickly finds ways to throw herself into being a teacher, a friend, a surrogate mother and soon, a girlfriend again. Senate includes the recipes in the back of the book and I feel like I should copy them, even though I can’t cook at all. All the characters Holly runs into by chance and on purpose are well-drawn and interesting. Everyone has their burdens they are working through, but no one is insufferable about it.

Senate also has a great way of describing Maine. Just like last time, reading about Blue Crab island, makes me want to ditch this metropolis and go to Maine right this second. I’ve been to Maine once and didn’t find it all that charming, but these beautiful houses with charming men and rowboats just tug at me. I guess good writing can do that!

The Breakup Club by Melissa Senate

358932I haven’t read anything by Melissa Senate in almost a year and she can be very hit and miss. I loved my outing with her, so I figured this one might be a miss.

It’s sort of neither. It was a quick read about four people who are randomly connected, but they don’t realize it (and get to the title of the book) until the end of chapter 8. It seemed like there could have been four different books about the journeys of these folks, but it was mostly just glossed over. Newly single dad, learning to deal with his one-year-old and not hating his wife who left him. Woman who is about to get left by her husband. Her sister who won’t let go of her last relationship. Woman who ran out on her own wedding. All interesting and yet, I didn’t feel a connection to any of them. And thought they form a “club,” they don’t really have a connection to each other. The “club” randomly gets assigned a project at work that seems horrible, but then it turns out it’s fine.

I read about half the book while I was getting a pedicure yesterday and finished it up at work during my lunch break, so it has that going for it, but overall, I just didn’t care about any of the characters and it didn’t seem like Senate did either.

The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate

6405363I just got finished reading this book and I just had to come post about it. But now, I’m having trouble translating the fact that it just made me feel warm and left a smile on my face into words.

Rebecca’s father dies and when he goes, he leaves her with a mystery that shakes her world. In the process of trying to figure out what to do next, she finds herself in a small town in Maine, meeting a cute guy, adopting a dog and trying to piece together a family. I really love how Senate writes the town where Rebecca lands and it almost made me want to pick up everything and move to a clapboard house in a small New England town. Of course, everything seems lovely in the summertime in New England.

I really enjoyed watching things fall into place for Rebecca, even if she didn’t realize it in the moment. Her father gave her a gift with his lie and introduce her to the idea that her life didn’t have to continue as it was going. It hit me in all the right places with its escapism and lovely leading man. And it made me want to travel to Maine, which I’ve not wanted to do since I was attacked by killer bugs on my senior bell tour. Only if I can meet a Theo though!

Questions to Ask Before Marrying by Melissa Senate

2403954I was delighted to find another Melissa Senate book on the sale table at a local Barnes & Noble. I had thought I had read them all a few years back, so I was happy to see another one in the pile.

This one started out promisingly enough with sisters on a road trip, on a mission and a love triangle for our heroine. But in the end, the sister’s story is more interesting and I’d be more inclined to see the events from her point of view. They meet some interesting characters along the way from Maine to Las Vegas, reminding me of my own cross-country trips. I was also jealous that they had time to stop and see those weird/cool roadside attractions that I never seem to have time for when I’m schlepping from one coast to the other.

The book loses steam once they get to Las Vegas and I was disappointed in the ending for our heroine. Not my favorite Senate, but I’ll keep her as a favorite.

Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? by Melissa Senate

358931This was a super quick read. It picks up about two years after See Jane Date, but focuses on one of Jane Gregg’s BFFs. Of course, I didn’t remember her name was Eloise, so it took me a chapter or two to figure it out. And Eloise’s boss is the boss from The Soloman Sisters Wise Up, so that was nice too.

There were a lot of conflicts swirling and some of them seemed more easily solvable than they were made out to be. I saw the last twist coming from about the fourth chapter, making that pay off seem rather lame. I was also a little disappointed that one of the major problems seemed to just fade away because it seemed to be SO important and then it just…wasn’t.

Overall, it was a great, quick read and it was nice to catch up to the SJD characters again from another perspective. I’ll definitely continue to seek out Melissa Senate’s work.