Release Date: June 28th, 2022
CW: mentions of the death of a parent, grief, toxic parental relationship
Amy will do anything to revive her ailing restaurant, including hiring a former reality-show finalist with good connections and a lot to prove. But her hopes that Sophie’s skills and celebrity status would bring her restaurant back from the brink of failure are beginning to wane…
Sophie Brunet: grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer.
Sophie just wants to cook. She doesn’t want to constantly post on social media for her dead-in-the-water reality TV career, she doesn’t want to deal with Amy’s take-charge personality and she doesn’t want to think about what her attraction to her boss might mean…
Then, an opportunity: a new foodie TV show might provide the exposure they need. An uneasy truce is fine for starters, but making their dreams come true means making some personal and painful sacrifices and soon, there’s more than just the restaurant at stake.
I love a good sapphic romance as much as the next person and I went into The Romance Recipe blindly because I didn’t want my feelings for the book to be clouded by other people’s feelings and opinions. And I’m glad, because I thoroughly enjoyed this one. This is my first Ruby Barrett book, but I’m definitely going to check out Hot Copy, because I’ve heard great things about that one too.
First of all, these characters were so complex. I love that they had so much more to offer than just their jobs and the roles they play with each other. Amy’s gone through so much in her life and she’s pushed through everything to make her restaurant the best thing ever. She has a strained relationship with her father, but a solid relationship with her brother. But everything in her life feels a little stretched. I loved how realistic her struggles were, plus the fact that she gave her plants names and spent all this time pining over a woman she might never really have—relatable! And then there’s Sophie. I didn’t think that I would ever connect to two women in the same book so much, but after spending 30something years of her life being uncertain of her sexuality, Sophie’s finally taken a chance at coming out. Which that implodes her existing relationship and thanks to her reality TV fame, she’s caught Amy’s attention and is brought on as the head chef at the restaurant. And thus begins their very complicated working relationship.
I enjoyed the frustrations to lovers situation tossed in with some mutual pining that Amy and Sophie go through. I really loved seeing how Sophie was dealing with these feelings she’s suddenly finding herself drowning in. Their relationship builds gradually, from the two of them working together to walking around on eggshells to finally just throwing caution to the wind and taking what they want. I loved how through Amy and their relationship, Sophie starts to find her confidence and her strength again.
Their relationship did feel very physical and took me some time to really wrap my head around whether or not there were any emotional feelings at first. While they both want each other and their inner monologues speak to their feelings, it didn’t instantly feel that way to me. But their physical relationship? Holy moly, that was hot. There was some hot kitchen sex, midday quickie in a car and a whole bunch of other lust and desire charged moments that definitely set my Kindle on fire.
However, what I did love about their relationship is the back and forth. I respected the heck out of Sophie for standing up and asking for what she wanted when Amy kept bulldozing her way through things. I loved Sophie’s growth through the course of the book and I admired her drive and her passion for what she believes in, because it’s not always easy to ask for what you want and how you want it, but Sophie gets there and she does it well. I also loved how unapologetically honest Amy was. She can seem rough around the edges a few times, but that’s what made her real and I desperately needed to be assured that it’s okay to not be the put together person all the time.
“You don’t need to have known you were queer since you were a kid. You can go your whole life never touching a woman and you’ll still be queer. It’s not about performing your sexuality or your gender for everyone else. Being queer is about what you know to be true about yourself, in here.”
The Romance Recipe is a dream come true for bisexuals everywhere as they go on this journey with Sophie to understand who they really are. And it’s a confirmation for women who’ve been called “tough” and “unlikeable” that you only have to please yourself and be happy for yourself because Amy does not apologise for who she is even once. And for me, those were enough.
Thanks to Carina Press & NetGalley for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.