by Deirdre Martin

January 2008
ISBN: 978-0-425-21897-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Mass Market Paperback

Vivi Robitaille has just moved from France to Brooklyn, New York, with hopes of opening her own French bistro. It is a daunting task, but with the financial backing of her half-sister, Natalie, Vivi is sure her plans will be a success.

Of course, there are several complications that Vivi did not count on, and the most threatening is her chief competitor, and local restaurateur, Anthony Dante. Vivi is quite attracted to the virile widower, but she knows that dating a fellow chef can be a big challenge.

Anthony Dante just wants to ignore the little French Mademoiselle that is turning the old neighborhood candy store into a bistro. However, the more he gets to know Vivi, the more he knows that she is going to be fierce competition. Not only is she a talented chef, but she is the first woman to truly engage Anthony's interest since his wife's passing. Anthony had not counted on opening his heart to love again, certainly not with a competitor. But Vivi understands Anthony's passion for food and cooking in a way no one else can. The more they ignore the sparks between them, the more those sparks sizzle. Several complications prove to make love a rocky road for this pair.

Robust characterization, realistic complications, and family hijinks makes Just a Taste a satisfying contemporary romance. Vivi is a sweet, shy, but very driven French woman. I admired her tenacity in getting her bistro off the ground, even when some of the odds seemed insurmountable. Ms. Martin did a nice job of digging into the fledgling relationship between Vivi and her half-sister, Natalie, adding a great layer of familial tension to the story.

And then there are the Dantes. In one sense, a stereotypical Italian family, loud with laughter and love, but also very individual. However, Martin adds enough distinctness to the characters to make this a very unique bunch. Anthony shines as he falls into a new love, but must consider what this means for his feelings for his first wife. He is smart, very sexy, and an argumentative, imperfect match for Vivi.

Just a Taste bubbles over with humor, a subtly sexy romance, two intriguing characters, and enough secondary characters to keep everything hopping. Surely, this is a romance recipe for success. Contemporary romance fans will enjoy a hearty tale with this book.

Reviewed in December 2007 by Sarah.

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