Mixing it up by Tracie Banister


Length: 470 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Manhattan upper-cruster Cecily Sinclair now uses that pricey utensil to dish up fancy French fare on her cooking show, Serving Romance. When there’s an executive shake-up at the network, she’s not worried. Not much anyway. Her show’s a hit after all. Why would the new CEO want to mess with success?

The driving force behind several buzzed-about networks, Devlin Hayes is considered to be a wunderkind in the television industry. Although his plans to rebrand CuisineTV and make Serving Romance more Millennial-friendly don’t thrill Cecily, her charming, blue-eyed boss is a hard man to say “no” to and she really wants to keep her job—even if that means sharing screen time with a loathsome blast from her past.

Mercurial Italian chef Dante Marchetti a.k.a. “Il Duce” was once Cecily’s boss, and she has the PTSD to prove it. Now the owner of one of the hottest restaurants in town, Dante’s egomania knows no bounds and his constant attempts to provoke and upstage Cecily make her want to conk him on the head with a sauté pan. She thinks they’re toxic together, but viewers love their chemistry and clamor for more.

As Cecily battles to maintain the integrity of her show, she finds herself scheming and manipulating right along with Dante and Devlin. Is she fighting a lost cause? Does she really belong on TV, or would her culinary talent be better served elsewhere? And could one of the men who makes Cecily’s blood boil ignite a passion in her for something other than food?

The Review: Okay so I’m not going to bore you again with how rubbish I am at cooking, and how much food and baking and cooking stories and blogs make me so so happy. As a result when I saw this I was beyond thrilled, and, knowing Tracie Banister’s impeccible style and sophistication in terms of chick lit made me hit pre order straight away. It is beyond regretful that it’s taken me this long to get to the review, especially as I had read Ms. Banister’s ‘In Need Of Therapy’ (read review here) and loved it. No more that here, I often find reading blogs and blogging tears you away from the books you started the blog for, sparkling treats that pull you out of reading ruts, and this is one of those books.
We are set up with a bang into the world of tv cooking and this, put with that great cover, placed me firmly there, at Cuisine tv with Cecily Sinclair, whose identity is her cookery show Serving Romance. Of course in tv land nothing stays the same for long enough and, when a shake up takes place in the studios, Cecily’s show gains a guest host. I was excited that I heard Dante was difficult to work with, and settled into a read that beyond flew by.

The dialogue in this book (I won’t say between who!), when snippy, was so funny, and when loaded, was electric. The romance was of the fluttery yet hot type, the comedy sparkling, and the characters perfection. I actually learned from the food talk, and came away from the book feeling like I do when I get to watch QI, satisfied and that little bit more knowledgeable.  All in all this is definitely a book that fans of sophisticated, sparkly, bright, intelligent romance will love, as I did.

Rating: 5/5


In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister


Note: Cover image leads to a universal amazon buy link.

What they say: Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can’t stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she’s left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

The review:I had heard a lot of good things about this book, but was very nervous about reading it, because I know Ms Banister from social media, quite a big thing when you’re a blogger. She introduced me to and is one of the organisers of an amazing chick lit author and blogger group I’m a member of, and frankly I was terrified in case this wasn’t my cup of tea (a silly phrase for me to use in this case because I’m an anomaly, an irish person who doesn’t actually like tea!) Anyhoo, I needn’t have worried because I really enjoyed this and have in fact held off on reviewing because I wanted people to add it to their Summer reads list.

We begin with a report on a patient, a girl who suffers from abandonment issues,and so looks to romantic partners for the love that she missed when growing up. These reports were repeated with a variety of patients throughout the book, and it was a satisfying little quirk that I hadn’t seen done before. The patients were a nice mix, some of who crossed over into her personal life and I enjoyed all of  her sessions.

In fact, all of the characters were chick lit perfection, Pilar, a Latina tower of strength, well educated and able to steer others in the right direction, yet feeling inadequate with herself and her family’s problems, Izzy, whose devil-may-care attitude and unconventional dress sense and choices in males flummoxed Pilar. Then there was the overly dramatic, extremely well-to-do mother whose english would lapse into Spanish when she just couldn’t take any drama presented to her, and her ex, Victor, a man on a mission to get her back, no matter what. I loved the banter between the family, with their wealth providing the perfect setting for dinner party battles. I also loved that the book wasn’t solely romance and am always a sucker for work issues that add to the pile on a lead’s plate and these were done brilliantly, with Pilar trying to figure out how to grow her business, which was floundering. This, coupled with  the other main character, Ford, that provided a sounding board and a shoulder, was done very nicely. A special mention for the epilogue that tied things up perfectly. All in all a brilliantly witty, over the top, fun yet intelligent romantic comedy which ticked all the boxes for me. Definitely recommended for Summer and roll on a forthcoming sequel centred around her sister, Izzy. Can’t wait. (Phew).

Rating: 4.5/5