The beautiful wife of a would-be congressman falls for a sexy chef in this steamy debut novel.
On the surface, Eden Bancroft seems the perfect political wife. Attractive and intelligent, she's a key part of her husband’s plan to win election to Congress. But a perfect exterior conceals a deeply dysfunctional marriage. After more than a decade together, Eden, a master sommelier, has fallen out of love with the dimwitted, selfish, and arrogant Mitchell, if she was ever really in love with him to begin with. Despite her growing disillusionment, Eden’s commitment to her three children and her financial dependence on her husband (and his wealthy mother) holds the marriage together. She hopes, at the very least, that if Mitchell wins a seat in the House of Representatives that her new duties “might add some zest to her life.” That is, until she meets the handsome chef Kaleb Stavros, for whom she feels a passion she never experienced for her husband. The two begin a clandestine romance. Mitchell, a smarmy, despicable jerk (he’s guilty of marital rape, among many other sins), remains oblivious to the affair but makes it clear he’ll do whatever is necessary to tame his restless wife and win the election. Readers should sympathize with Eden’s struggle to balance her overwhelming desire for Kaleb with the pressure to do what is right for her children. At times, however, it would be nice if she had a bit more agency. She initially embraces Mitchell to get out of a tough financial spot, and then relies on Kaleb to rescue her from a terrible marriage. But watching her fall deeply in love for the first time is enjoyable, and readers should get a vicarious thrill from the couple’s jaunts to Paris, Jamaica, Cyprus, and Jackson Hole. Foodies should also savor the mouthwatering descriptions of the delicious meals and fine wines that are served over the course of the book (at a dinner in Paris, “she had Boeuf Bourguignon and he had kidneys simmered in a delicate wine sauce”). The election night denouement strains credulity, but it remains a minor misstep in an otherwise enjoyable tale.
A spicy outing that should feed readers’ hunger for romance.