Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Review: All Stirred Up by Brianne Moore

All Stirred Up by Brianne Moore
Publisher: Alcove Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
All Stirred Up cover
ISBN: 9781643855318
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Susan Napier's family once lived on the success of the high-end restaurants founded by her late grandfather. But bad luck and worse management has brought the business to the edge of financial ruin. Now it's up to Susan to save the last remaining restaurant: Elliot's, the flagship in Edinburgh.

But what awaits Susan in the charming city of Auld Reekie is more than she bargained for. Chris Baker, her grandfather's former protégé--and her ex-boyfriend--is also heading to the Scottish capital. After finding fame in New York as a chef and judge of a popular TV cooking competition, Chris is returning to his native Scotland to open his own restaurant. Although the storms have cleared after their intense and rocky breakup, Susan and Chris are re-drawn into each other's orbit--and their simmering attraction inevitably boils over.

As Chris's restaurant opens to great acclaim and Susan tries to haul Elliot's back from the brink, the future brims with new promise. But darkness looms as they find themselves in the crosshairs of a gossip blogger eager for a juicy story--and willing to do anything to get it. Can Susan and Chris reclaim their lost love, or will the tangled past ruin their last hope for happiness?

Jane Austen’s Persuasion gets a modern-day remake in All Stirred Up. As both a Janeite and a lover of foodie romances, I couldn’t wait to dive into a reimagining of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth’s love story set in the culinary world. While the result may not be as stunning as its inspiration, I still found author Brianne Moore’s take interesting and engaging.

Susan Napier’s grandfather founded a chain of restaurants that were successful and world-renowned. In the wake of his death and the passing of Susan’s mother, the Napier family is nearly in ruins. All they have left is the flagship restaurant in Edinburgh. Susan is determined to revitalize the restaurant and save her grandfather’s legacy. I loved her quiet strength and her determination in the face of numerous, frustrating obstacles. Susan isn’t perfect but she’s a good, kind woman with good business sense, a talent for pastry and sweets, and a spine of steel most don’t see. She and Chris Baker have a history and their breakup was bad. They were both young and Susan was still grieving her mother’s death when she was persuaded to leave him. Chris is understandably bitter given how things turned out, but he can’t help but be drawn to Susan once they’re both in the same city. Chris has become a famous chef in the intervening years since their breakup. He isn’t perfect either; there’s a lot of him that’s still hurt and angry. But beneath it all is a good man who is helps others where he can and who has vision and determination of his own. He and Susan simply “click,” but don’t expect a grand romance in All Stirred Up. The love story is a bit understated and lacks the passionate undertones I would have liked. The romance doesn’t really get going until the end of the book and though the history between Susan and Chris is well-established enough for the ending to be believable, a bit more zing or simmering tension would have given the romance more life.

The Edinburgh restaurant scene is highlighted in All Stirred Up and it’s where the writing shines. Ms. Moore will make you salivate with all the divine dishes described in this story. Her culinary knowledge is apparent and the descriptions of both food and locations bring the book to life. She also rounds out the story with a host of engaging secondary characters. If you’re familiar with Persuasion you’ll recognize who their classic counterparts are and I loved the depth and character motivation Ms. Moore added to Susan’s sisters. So while the romance was a bit lacking for me, I still really enjoyed this book overall. I’m a sucker for Austen retellings and Ms. Moore does a great job of including classic elements and storylines while making this book stand on its own.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.