It’s Tuesday afternoon and I know I need to start writing my book review for the March meeting, which is just a few hours away. I grab an Atkins Chocolate Peanut Butter bar and start writing, leaving me to wonder, “How many of you eat while you’re reading and/or writing?” I eat when I read because it’s fun. I eat when I write because it’s a necessity.

If you haven’t started eating before you start reading Barbara O’Neal’s The Lost Recipe for Happiness, you’ll be raiding the fridge soon. But if you’re like me and you don’t have the fixings for tamales on hand, you may be seeking out the closest upscale Mexican restaurant. Here in Vegas, we have several, but one of my favorite local Mexican restaurants is Lindo Michoacan – they do have tamales on the menu. But when you read the heavenly description of the duck tamales in The Lost Recipe for Happiness, your mouth will be watering for something a little more exotic than the usual beef, pork, or chicken.

Food shows on television are extremely popular and any lover of the Food Network will definitely enjoy this book. If you’ve ever seen Iron Chef or Restaurant Wars on Top Chef, you’ll feel like you’re on the set – this book will make all of that come alive. Barbara O’Neal’s web site says this

In this sumptuous new novel, Barbara O’Neal offers readers a celebration of food, family, and love as a woman searches for the elusive ingredient we’re all hoping to find… “The Lost Recipe for Happiness.” 

It’s the opportunity Elena Alvarez has been waiting for–the challenge of running her own kitchen in a world-class restaurant. Haunted by an accident of which she was the lone survivor, Elena knows better than anyone how to defy the odds. With her faithful dog Alvin and her grandmother’s recipes, Elena arrives in Colorado to fine a restaurant in as desperate need of a fresh start as she is–and a man whose passionate approach to food and life rivals her own. Owner Julian Liswood is a name many people know, but a man few do. He’s come to Aspen with a troubled teenage daughter and a dream of the kind of stability and love only a family can provide. But for Elena, ghosts don’t die quietly, yet a chance to find happiness at last is worth the risk.

It’s romantic women’s fiction at its best – nobody writes it better than Barbara. When I started reading it, I had just learned that my uncle was going into hospice. This book offered me an escape into somebody else’s troubles and somehow that comforted me. I say this because, in spite of its light, breezy cover, it’s a bit darker than I normally read. But now I’m looking forward to reading her next book, The Secret of Everything, another book about food, life, love, and mountains – all things Barbara O’Neal must love. In fact, I’m going to start reading it right now.

For more information, see Barbara O’Neal’s (aka Barbara Samuel) web site.

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@Barrie Summy

Disclaimer: I only review books I want to recommend and have purchased myself, although if I’m excited about a book, I’ll accept a complimentary copy when offered.

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