I’m having a hard time resisting the urge to sing “The Shoop Shoop Song,” also known as “It’s in His Kiss.” Like its musical 60s namesake, Reon Laudat’s fourth novel is a light and airy romance that makes good use of the author’s sense of humor.
Cincinnati restauranteur Savannah Jacobs is a true survivor. When she was thirteen, her parents were killed in an automobile accident, leaving Savannah and her ten-year-old brother to move through the foster care system. Good fortune came in the form of a caseworker who kept the children together. Savannah graduated from high school and earned a business degree.
She endured a two-year toxic marriage to a computer chip mogul
who became emotionally and verbally abusive when Savannah was unable to fit into size two “Barbie Doll clothes” or his high-society lifestyle. She decided she had literally and emotionally outgrown him and filed for divorce. Her soon-to-be ex-husband could not believe he had been dumped by a “lumpy-bumpy woman.”
With her money from her divorce settlement, Savannah opened “The Silver Spoon” restaurant. When the novel begins, Savannah’s survival skills are being tested once again. During the weekend-from-hell, she has had to deal with the walkout of a temperamental cook, a flasher, a leaky pipe and an “infestation.”
The new week begins with a vengeance. On Monday, the Cincinnati Tribune publishes a caustic review of her restaurant called “Gag Me With a Spoon.” It is the last straw. Sparks fly when Savannah shows up at the newspaper to confront food critic Jackson DeWitt. She’s armed with an entree Jackson’s review maligned as “Fettuccine, I’m Afraid So.” After telling him what she thinks of him and his review, Savannah promptly dumps the fettuccine in his lap.
Jackson begins to experience sensations that have absolutely nothing to do with pasta. He later visits the Silver Spoon under the guise of returning her dish and offering advice about the restaurant. However, Jackson is more attracted to Savannah than he has been to any woman in nearly a year. He is hoping to cook something up with her. But, although Savannah is attracted to Jackson, she is apprehensive about his interest in her and her restaurant.
Reon Laudat’s novel makes great use of her strengths - her writing skill, her knowledge of the journalism community, her familiarity with Cincinnati and its environs and her sense of humor. The last distinction is particularly important in this book. Unlike It’s a Love Thang, the author’s first attempt at romantic comedy, the humor in It’s in His Kiss is more subtle. It’s not in-your-face. Gone are the numerous pratfalls and wisecracks that detracted from the previous story.
As a result, the story of Jackson and Savannah, two very equally matched characters is able to develop naturally. The pacing is excellent. The relationship between the two is credible and each brings realistic issues to the table. Secondary characters add shading and play off the main characters well. It’s in His Kiss includes a feisty, funny secondary romance that doesn’t overshadow Jackson and Savannah’s story.
It’s in His Kiss marks a welcome new phase in Reon Laudat’s romance writing career. I strongly recommend it.