Another Nantucket beach read from Hildebrand (Nantucket Nights, 2001), this one set in a fabulous ocean-side restaurant where the heroine’s frothy romance competes with the specter of cystic fibrosis.
Adrienne Dealey arrives in Nantucket from Aspen, having drifted from one resort hotel job to another for the last eight years. Despite a complete lack of restaurant experience, debonair Thatcher Smith immediately hires her as his assistant manager at the eponymous Blue Bistro, which he owns with chef Fiona Kemp and which will shut its doors for good after this final summer season. Adrienne moves in with a friendly waitress, buys some new hostess outfits and proves a fast learner of the ins and outs of the restaurant business, her success aided by her natural good looks. Hildebrand introduces lots of mouthwatering food and keeps the champagne flowing for the not terribly colorful cast of customers and staff—the unhappy married couple, the studly bartender, the lonely rich guy, the ambitious pastry chef. The inevitable romance between Adrienne and Thatch is complicated by Thatch’s devotion to Fiona, with whom he eats dinner every night after the restaurant closes. And, frankly, in a charisma contest, Fiona in her apron would win over Adrienne in her designer frocks hands down. A graduate of the Culinary Institute, petite, fierce-eyed Fiona is a brilliant chef who could be a star on the Cooking Channel, but she avoids all publicity and never leaves her kitchen. Gradually, Adrienne realizes that Fiona is sick, a secret that must be kept so that diners aren’t frightened away. As the summer winds down, Adrienne and Thatch find themselves deeply in love, but Thatch’s devotion to the devoutly Catholic Fiona, who has her own married lover, never waivers, and he marries her in a hospital ceremony just before her death. Not to worry: now he’s an available widower.
Uneasy mix of escapism and medical soap opera.