I love book covers. Colour palettes, fonts and the scene often give an overall picture of the story inside (in my experience!) Looking at the gorgeous cover of The Taste of Summer by Kate Lord Brown you would probably think this was going to be a light and summery read. The tagline ‘At a little Irish castle, things are hotting up in the kitchen …’ also led me to believe this was going to be hot as in passion. I must admit I was surprised. Having followed Kate since I started blogging in 2011 and reading last year’s The Christmas We Met, I thought this was maybe a change in direction for Kate … That old cliche ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ really does apply to The Taste of Summer.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Orion (28 July 2016)
Every summer, in a rambling castle in Kenmare, south west Ireland, the TV crews descend to film the nation’s favourite cookery competition. For Diana, a celebrated TV chef, it’s a way to keep her castle running. But this summer, it will be different. There’s a lot more at stake than the perfect muffin. Bea, the cupcake queen, is determined to remind everyone why she deserves her own TV show, at whatever cost. Connor, the bad boy of the restaurant world, is determined to put his lurid past behind him and turn over a new leaf. And food blogger Darcy finds that returning home to the castle means stirring up some long-buried feelings for someone she’d never quite forgotten.
That cover of sweetness and light hides a dark and sinister plot …
First of all I have to say I enjoyed the format of The Taste of Summer. Two timelines – the story being told in the present in Kenmare weaved through a step back in time to 1969. I was intrigued by 1969. 19 year old Colleen is in London married to a much older man. Most of these scenes are heart breaking. Whilst I worked out part of this timeline (that was one red herring!) I missed something vital.
Castle Dromquinna hosts a popular cookery competition each year and in the present time, 26 year old Darcy has come home to support her mother Diana who had a fall while collecting apples from a tree. She’s given up her job in San Francisco at Chez Panisse and to me she seemed a little lost. The first person she meets when she gets off the bus is chef Connor and it’s not long before Bea makes an entrance at Castle Dromquinna.
So many things start to go wrong and I found it agonising knowing things that some characters didn’t. Alongside this is the burgeoning relationship between Darcy and Connor. Both our leads lack self-confidence are are wounded by their pasts leaving plenty of space for conflicts when others become involved. Bea’s character is very well crafted. Kate Lord Brown has this exactly right in my opinion.
I loved the setting of not only the castle and the kitchens but also the woods and and the lake. It was so easy to ‘be’ here with Darcy and Connor, feeling the healing energy of nature. The personifications are brilliant, for example:
The trees wept for the golden leaves spinning in the rain.
With the cooking competition you would expect there to be food – I thought the naming of the different sections of the story were inspired (breakfast, lunch, tea etc) and loved how Kate works recipes into the storyline. I’ve made a note to try some myself.
The Taste of Summer has a good pace, a storyline that grabbed me and characters that carried the story well making everything believable and relatable. Don’t expect the heat to be only about passion and summer as the only season. Be prepared for that overturned stone with the creepy crawlies buried underneath …
I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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