Title: From Scratch by Rachel Goodman
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 259 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A down-home, feel-good debut Southern romance, From Scratch explores one woman’s journey back home to Dallas, Texas, where her family is cooking up a plan that doesn’t quite suit her tastes…
Thirty-year-old Lillie Turner grew up with maple syrup stuck to her skin and bacon grease splattered on her clothes, courtesy of working in the family diner. Thank goodness she escaped all that when she moved to Chicago five years ago. Now a successful strategy consultant and newly engaged to a man who complements her like biscuits and gravy, she has everything she wants.
When an urgent phone call about her father’s health pulls Lillie back to Dallas, she soon learns it was a ruse to bring her home so she can run the diner she’d rather avoid and compete in the Upper Crust, an annual baking competition, with no option to withdraw. Lillie is furious and ready to run back to Chicago, but her father’s haggard appearance makes her wonder if he’s hiding something. Things go from bad to worse when Nick, her handsome ex and the only man she ever truly loved, reappears, looking as scrumptious as ever.
Lillie’s trip home forces her to question the path she’s chosen, find her place in the family she abandoned, and wonder if the life she left behind is what she really wants after all.
Full of southern charm (and cooking), From Scratch is a saucy, funny and charming second chance at love romance. This debut novel by Rachel Goodman is a fast-paced love story with an absolutely phenomenal cast of well developed characters and an engaging storyline that is sure to delight fans of contemporary romances.
Five years earlier after her relationship imploded, Lillie Turner moved from Dallas to Chicago where she reinvented herself. With her coveted promotion at work finally within reach and happily engaged to her longtime boyfriend, a health emergency with her beloved father means she must return to Dallas and face everything (and everyone) she left behind. Although dismayed to discover that her father is cooking up a scheme to have her take over running the family owned diner, Lillie is thrilled to reunite with her childhood friends Wes and Annabelle. However, she is disconcerted when she comes face to face with her ex, Nick Preston. Much to her consternation, she discovers her attraction to Nick has not diminished, and Lillie is forced to make some difficult choices about her future.
Growing up, Lillie had a pretty happy childhood but she definitely bears a few scars from her mother’s abandonment. Her dad made up for this lack as best he could and she loved working side by side with him in the diner. Her happiness was complete when she and Nick became engaged but their relationship could not withstand the rigors of Nick’s demanding surgical residency. Despite her attempts to close the growing distance between them, on the night that Lillie needed him the most, Nick’s unexpected outburst culminated with her leaving Dallas in a panic. Picking up the pieces of her life in a new place was the hardest thing Lillie has ever faced, but she is a much stronger person for making the decision to get out of an unhappy relationship and forge a new life for herself.
Her return to Dallas is fraught with tension as Lillie tries to make everyone happy. Worried about her dad, she agrees to stay until he is back on his feet. Her fiancé is understanding and supporting of her predicament but her boss and co-workers do not cut her any slack. Lillie is also saddened to learn that her friends have been keeping some pretty serious secrets from her and she is also blindsided by accusations that she did not do enough to save her relationship with Nick. Lillie begins to doubt herself but once she and Nick move beyond their initial animosity, can they make peace with their tumultuous past? And if they can, what impact will this have on Lillie’s future?
From Scratch is a captivating second chance at love romance. The characters are likable and although flawed, they grow throughout the story as they face their individual demons. The various relationships are realistically depicted and even though they have disagreements, they are quick to forgive and move forward. Rachel Goodman is an immensely talented author who brings the characters, their emotions and the setting vibrantly to life. An outstanding debut novel that I highly recommend to fans of contemporary romances.