Book Review: "The Love Goddess' Cooking School" by Melissa Senate

Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine—a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can’t make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that’s why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla’s Cucinotta, she’s determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother’s legacy.

But Holly’s four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla’s chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter’s heart. Juliet, Holly’s childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can’t find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad, Liam, from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend. As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla’s essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed—and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.

Let me start off by saying I just LOVE Melissa Senate's books. I do. I have never been disappointed in any of the books she has written. In fact, I always finish them in record time because they are so enjoyable to read. This book definitely joined the ranks of her past works. It was so wonderful to read and an absolute delicious read to boot. It's one of those books where I wish that I could enter the story myself and become a character.

The story deals with Holly, the granddaughter of a town legend who became famous for her food and her fortunes. Holly is dealing with keeping up the tradition but is worried that she will not be able to live up to her grandmother's namesake. Her cooking school starts off with several disappointments but soon begins to pick up speed. Her relationship with Mia, I think is the star of the story. While there is the relationship with Mia's father, I still think that reading about Holly and Mia was more crucial to the story. I loved how Mia is depicted perfectly as a 12 year old, acting as both trying to be seen as a young adult while still missing her mother dreadfully. Holly is the perfect companion for her as she treats her with both respect and gives her guidance where needed.

I really liked reading Camilla's diary and seeing how she started her business. I wanted to see how the feud began between the two sparring families and her diary reveals all those secrets. I thought the glimpse into the past showed how views of the role of women in the kitchen have changed throughout the years. I really liked seeing Camilla from Holly's perspective as well as the townsfolk. I would have loved to have tried out her food as well as gotten a fortune from her.

I loved all the food that was mentioned in the story. There were so many delicious entrees that were mentioned and many mouth-watering dishes that were cooked in the story. Although I will admit I grimaced at the thought of what goes into sa cordula. Thank goodness I didn't have to fall in love with Holly. I'd probably rather stay single than eat that thing, just saying! If you have a craving for something a bit more delectable, there are some recipes in the back of the book of dishes that are mentioned in the story. They look pretty easy and sound delicious. After reading the book, I had an incredible craving to make pasta which I did and threw in a few wishes while I was cooking. I can't say whether they came true or not (we'll see) but the food turned out wonderful.

Overall, this book was a winner in my book. The story is engaging, the characters are well developed and it's a book about food! How can you go wrong with all that? If you are in the mood for a good foodie story with a touch of chick lit, this is the perfect book for you. Another winner for Senate and I cannot wait to read her next book. HIGHLY recommended.

Note of interest: This was the cover of the book pre-publication, and personally I like it better than the final cover. It seems more original, more crisp and more tasty. Which one do you like better?

The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate is published by Gallery Books (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher


  1. I love your review. This seems like a great novel. Personally I like the second cover better. I don't know why but it just draws me somehow.

  2. Deborah, thank you SO much for the amazing review! You've made my day. P.S. I will always love the original cover of the book!

  3. I'm so glad to see this book is so good! I can't wait to read it. I actually like the new cover more.

  4. I agree, the pre-pub cover is much more appetizing. I'll have to see if my library has a copy. It sounds like a fun read.

  5. I've been waiting for its release since reading The Secret of Joy last year. And now I'm patiently waiting for it to become available for me to pick up at the library. At this point, I may just buy it. (I prefer the second cover.)

  6. I enjoyed this one as well. Great review!

  7. Definitely interested in reading this one ... and I like the original cover best too. The final cover makes me really not sure about it - probably because I can't stand spaghetti, haha ...

  8. I think I prefer the final cover, it is much warmer and more inviting, I think.


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