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Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus

Reviewed by Lori Fox

"Kaye Dacus is an excellent writer. Even better than that, she's a great story teller."

This is the year that Meredith Guidry is going to get over her eight year crush on Major O'Hara. Of course, it doesn't help that he's the executive chef in her parent's event planning and catering business of which she, herself, is an executive.

You'd think things would get easier after she meets Ward Breaux--a man who's not only incredibly handsome and charming, but actually thoughtful, affectionate, and even has a successful career as a contractor. Instead, everything seems to get more complicated. And to top things off, her parents continually make decisions about her department without consulting her first, her humongous extended family seems to think that all of her business is their business, and, oh yeah, Major seems to be hiding a huge secret from her.

Menu for Romance is Kaye Dacus' third book, and the second in her Bonneterre Bride series, the first of which is Stand-in Groom. Her books are a refreshing look at women's fiction, with unique and warm characters, and interesting story lines. I hesitate to refer to them as chick-lit, but they're not what I would consider simply romance either. Women's fiction is the best category that I can place them in, with perhaps the addition of "southern" to the description.

The Bonneterre Bride series is set in Louisiana in a small town that grew into a bustling city. Both books center around the catering/event planning world, and Dacus seems to have a firm grip on the ins and outs of this sphere. Both of the heroines in this series are in their 30's, and this firmly removes them from the silliness that many of their younger literary counterparts fall prey to, yet they're so warmly real that there is a very comfortable balance in personality. Neither too silly, nor too serious. Neither too boring, nor too neurotic.

I really fell in love with the first book in this series. With Menu for Romance, either Dacus' writing skills have grown, or perhaps there was just something about the characters and story that made it all blend even better. There's an element of experimentation in these novels; certain characters will do or say something that makes you think the story is going to go one way, when it really goes another. Yet the books don't read as though they're clues planted there to fool you. It's more like as the story goes on, the characters are growing and experience things that change them along the way. It's more organic, and really keeps you guessing as you read. There really is a wonderful feeling of surprise without ever feeling as though you were being tricked.

The beginning is a bit slow in my opinion, but don't let that put you off. Kaye Dacus is an excellent writer. Even better than that, she's a great story teller.

Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.