Patton’s third novel featuring Southern belle Leelee Satterfield (Yankee Doodle Dixie, 2011, etc.) is rich on atmosphere and charm if short on plot.
After her husband, Baker, convinced her to move from ancestral Memphis to Vermont to follow his dream of owning a B&B and then left her for the artificially enhanced owner of a ski resort, Leelee is happily back home in Memphis and on the verge of opening her own restaurant. Chef Peter Owen (who was at her inn in Vermont) is working with Leelee to make the transplanted Peach Blossom Inn the finest French restaurant in Tennessee. They are also working together on a soul-mate kind of romance, although his Yankee directness takes some getting used to, as does Leelee’s Southern politeness (or lying, as Peter would call it). Leelee is finally taking some ownership for her life, which is a big step for someone raised to be a daughter and a wife. Thankfully, she has Kissie for guidance, Leelee’s old nanny who is now looking after her daughters, Sarah and Issie, doling out mammy-style wisdom and sassiness in equal measure. Then Leelee gets a cease and desist letter from a lawyer: the current owner of the Peach Blossom Inn in Vermont (the evil Helga) has copyrighted the name, and Leelee’s restaurant can’t open until everything is sorted out. When ex-husband Baker comes scooting back for reconciliation, Leelee considers it for the sake of the girls, though it drives Peter away. Patton has a large cast of loopy characters, offering all the comedy in the story. If only there were a little bit more story.
Fans of the Leelee novels (and of Kissie) will be happy to find their heroine’s life happily resolved, though the occasional slog through insignificant details may test their patience.