Shirley Jump has written another heartwarming, quirky, funny romance. You don't have to read the first book of her planned trilogy, The Bride Wore Chocolate, to enjoy this one, but that book is equally deserving and a little steamier than this one!
Maria Pagliano has been burned by men before. She had planned on marrying David until she caught him cheating on her with a stripper on her newly refinished dining room table. She built a wall around herself to keep from being hurt, trying to convince her well meaning (and marriage obsessed) Italian family that she does not want to get married and does not need a man to be happy. She uses food to insulate herself from the hurt. She meets Dante Del Rosso, a hot Italian restaurant owner outside his restaurant after fleeing her first meeting of the "Chubby Chums", a dieters support group at the church across the street.
Dante is attracted to Maria just as she is, which Maria is unable to understand. She pushes him away at every turn. At times I found myself rooting for Dante as he really seemed too good for Maria and her harsh militant stance against anything more than "sex with no strings" encounters with men. Dante is unwilling to have this type of fling with Maria and insists that he wants her to fall in love with him before giving in to their mutual sexual attraction. After she betrays Dante at his own restaurant by inviting a former flame from high school to a bachelorette party at his restaurant, Maria must come to terms with the hurt she's caused and decide how to take charge of her life and find the happiness that has eluded her.
Like in The Bride Wore Chocolate, there are recipes at the start of each chapter. I can't wait to try the "Dante's Hurry Up and Get Naked Broiled Shrimp" and "Mama's Not-Everything-Is-As-It-Seems Ravioli.