Sunday, March 29, 2015

ARC Review: For a Rainy Afternoon (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by RJ Scott

Robbie MacIntyre manages a small post office in the old Station House on the outskirts of sleepy Barton Hartshourn northwest of London. He’s stunned when the owner, Maggie, a close friend, bequeaths him not only the post office, but also Station House.

The rest of her estate is left to an American writer, Jason Young, and when he moves to the village, Robbie is thrown by the attraction he has for the man who has more of a claim on the Station House than he does.

Then there is a box that holds several rare first editions and a cookbook. Only when the secrets of the ingredients in a particular recipe are finally revealed does everything begin to make sense, and a love cut short seventy years earlier is finally discovered.

Dani's rating:

I like R.J. Scott's writing, and I enjoyed the small British village setting in For a Rainy Afternoon. The village of Burton Hartshorn, population 300, is as far off the beaten path as one can get.

That's why Robbie, manager of the town's post office/bakery/café, is so surprised to see a gorgeous American trying to locate Apple Tree Cottage, which used to belong to Maggie.

Maggie was Robbie's friend and surrogate grandmother. She made the best applesauce cake and gave Robbie much needed direction. Robbie's been bereft since Maggie's passing, but Jason intrigues him.

When Robbie and Jason are thrown together, they discover that their meeting is no accident.

Even though Maggie is on page only briefly, her presence shines through in the story. We learn more about her past and her connection to Jason and his family.

I felt like Maggie was a better developed character than either Robbie or Jason. Robbie is the fist-person narrator, so we are privy to his thought process, but Jason remained shrouded in mystery.

Jason is an author, but we never get a sense of the books he writes. He is wealthy, but we know next to nothing about his family and past.

Many of Jason and Robbie's interactions are summarized, and the steam/passion is almost nonexistent. This wasn't a surprise to me, as Scott's books are generally low on the steam, but I felt the lack strongly in this story.

There is plenty of sweetness here, and I would bill the ending a tentative HEA. I especially liked Robbie's many attempts at recreating Maggie's famous applesauce cake; he only gets it right when he bakes from his heart. However, I wanted more focus on the relationship and definitely more spark between the MCs.

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