Length: 302 pages
Note: As always the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book
What they say: Ashley Burkе is your average next-door girl. She lives with her boyfriend, loves her work and secretly fancies her boss.
When Ashley loses it all through no fault of her own, well, apart from snogging her boss and getting caught by his fiancée, she needs to act fast to find a new job. A lucrative vacancy comes her way – a spot on a popular day-time TV – but there is a catch. It’s a cookery spot and Ashley can’t cook to save her life.
Can learning to cook burn your heart?
The Review: Remember Treachery of Trains (read review here)? Well at the time I saw this, which is Sylvia Ashby’s first book, and I was mesmerised but the thought of pairing Ms. Ashby’s excellent turn of phrase with cookery, a subject that I am obsessed with, mainly because I can’t! The book opens with a recipe for scrambled eggs (I ADORE when people put recipes into fiction books!), and we meet Ashley Burke, who is nervous about beginning to cook it. You might think this is unrealistic but I can totally, totally identify with this. Even though I am a stay at home Mum, my husband is the cook in the family, and every day I stand before whatever I am about to attempt to cook with apprehension. The only things that even roughly work out are the things that you can’t feed your kids more than once a week, and require simply putting in the oven (they are fine with this!) Everything else? It ends up charred (never undercooked, I don’t want to give them food poisoning!), crispy, soggy or lumpy. Things congeal that shouldn’t, and the meals always just taste a little bit wrong (my husband is diplomatic, but did once admit he didn’t know how I try so hard and yet my food always tastes a bit off). But I digress …
Ashley’s mantra is “I’m not giving up and ordering a takeaway” and she wants to have something presentable for her very by the book boyfriend Simon, who by now banks on her not being able to put anything forward as an alternative for take-out. There are some great references in here, from Aimee Winehouse to The Truman Show to Mission Impossible to Jamie Oliver, which made the sum of all parts, the book in its entirety feel like it was custom fit for me.
Ashley is a newsreader, which gives a nice edge to the book, as she reads about politics and the like, but when something hits the fan and she needs a new job she sees the perfect presenting job. Only trouble is, it’s presenting a TV cookery show. What ensues is a book that wouldn’t let me go, as we watch Ashley begin to learn about cooking from the spell binding Giacomo, a top chef who imparts a world of knowledge about food and his native Sardinia. The depth here was enthralling and I was reeled in to experience it all, the culture, the produce, the dishes. The change of location, as in The Treachery Of Trains, was perfection as it both educated me and made me wasn’t to go travelling to see Sardinia in all it’s beauty.
I loved the humour, the descriptions, the characters (in particular her mum, who was just so vivid), the gorgeous (gorgeous) romance, the pacing, all of it. This coupled with the fact that I’ve ‘met’ Sylvia Ashby on social media and she’s so lovely, mean I’m totally in- another author to follow.