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by Barbara Samuel

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-345-46914-3
Publisher: Ballantine

Unhappy divorcée with a nose for fragrances finds romance—and herself—in small-town Colorado.

Nicole (Nikki) Carrington might not have wanted the big empty house she once shared with her ex-husband and daughter to blow up, but it did, because Nikki had been too terrified of going down into the basement alone to check on the furnace. This failure of nerve sets the tone for Samuel’s latest effort (The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, 2004). Left homeless, and virtually childless after granting her former husband Daniel, a successful black businessman, primary custody of their 16-year-old biracial daughter Giselle, Nikki is forced to move into an apartment complex occupied predominantly by singles. It is there she meets and befriends Roxanne, aka Madame Mirabou, a part-time tarot card reader and walking example of how not to handle a divorce. Nikki gets a job waitressing at an upscale health-food restaurant where she is romantically pursued by one of the regulars, Niraj, a sweetly sensual British/Indian transplant with just enough emotional baggage to make him somewhat believable. She also rediscovers her long-dormant talent for creating signature perfumes. Her scent journal, in which she ruminates on her own olfactory memories, frames each chapter; the evocative descriptions of various scent combinations are the most compelling and interesting parts of the story. After passing an abandoned storefront, Nikki is inspired to open her own perfume shop. As she focuses on acquiring and renovating the charmingly offbeat space, she realizes that can actually enjoy life.

A slow-paced story with a positive message of the joyful possibilities of life after divorce.