Reservation for Two
by Jennifer Lohmann
(Harl. Super #1834, $5.50, G) ISBN 978-0373-71834-4
***
The story of the chef and the writer who gives her a bad review may seem familiar to some, but the author has thrown in some unique moments. Reservation for Two is a enjoyable story that will warm hearts, but doesn’t set new standards.

Tilly Milek has opened her restaurant Babka in honor of her Polish grandmother who taught her how to cook all the old family favorites and who gave her the money to open up her own place in Chicago. She is working hard to get out from her mother’s shadow that includes a family style restaurant in the old neighborhood. Tilly wants a little more upscale with updated Polish dishes and she knows she can do it.

But things seem to be going wrong. A local writer known only as the Eater writes a well known blog and he happens to come to the restaurant on a night when a dog and cat decided to have a war right in Tilly’s dining room, causing havoc, spilled soup and a genuine mess. Angry because his mother’s birthday dinner was ruined, Dan Meier breaks all of his own rules and writes a scathing review. Tilly’s business drops dramatically. She is forced to go to a local show called the Taste and show Chicago that there is more to her food than the cat fight. She meets a nice guy who provides her moral support. It turns out to be Dan Meier. Dan knows who she is and is impressed by her looks, her style and her cooking. But he is afraid to come clean with Tilly, since she indicates she hates the writer who was trying to destroy her dream.

Dan decides to let Tilly see who he is without knowing he is that man. During his “courtship.” he begins to suspect that there is a saboteur in her place since several other damaging things happen for no reason. Tilly finds herself falling for this guy who is charming, cute and seemingly supportive of all of her hard work.

The handwriting is on the wall and the inevitable happens…Tilly finds out who Dan is and they have a falling out. How they get back together is best left for the reader to discover. The whole saboteur plotline was crucial to the story but never played well with me. The reasons just didn’t make a lot of sense. But the romance is cute, although very subtle. The characters are likable. Tilly is determined and admirable. Dan is charming and funny, although a bit hard-headed. They seem to fit and are easy to root for.

Reservation for Two has a lot going for it and at times, was very engaging; but at times, didn’t hit on all cylinders. Overall, I think readers will enjoy the experience of the story.

--Shirley Lyons


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