Title: The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique
Author: Samantha Verant
Publication Date: December 6, 2022
A talented chef discovers how spices and scents can transport her—and, more importantly, how self-confidence can unlock the greatest magic of all: love—in this perfectly seasoned new novel by Samantha Vérant.
Kate Jenkins doesn’t believe in fate. She believes in a clear vision, meticulous planning, and hard work in order to achieve her culinary dreams. On the cusp of opening her own Parisian restaurant, Bistro Exotique, she isn’t even concerned when her standoffish—and annoyingly sexy—neighbor dismisses her as a crazy American tourist or when she meets the wildly eccentric Garrance, the self-proclaimed Spice Master of Paris, who ominously warns her of the previous owner’s failures.
Confident and optimistic, Kate keeps calm and cooks on. Until a series of unfortunate events derail her plans and her entire staff quits.
Kate is about to throw in the kitchen towel on her lifelong dream when Garrance offers to use her mastery of scents and spices to help her, but it comes at a price: Kate must work with Garrance’s son, Charles, a world-class chef and total jerk. After Kate hesitantly concedes to the deal, she slowly learns to open her heart and mind to new concepts, not quite sure if the magic she’s experiencing comes from Garrance’s spices, from within herself, or from the growing chemistry with Charles. One thing is certain, though: her kitchen is getting increasingly hot.
Why This Book
The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique is a fun romance set in Paris. Kate is an American on the verge of opening her own bistro, but her opening fails epically. Luckily, a business neighbor, a fascinatingly mysterious woman named Garrance offers to help, as long as Kate lets her son Charles help in the kitchen. I adored Garrance. Initially, I completely got why Kate was wary of her, but the woman really has a heart of gold, and a bit of a matchmaker’s streak. But it’s her garden that really made me swoon. Garrance mixes scents, and uses her very own rooftop garden for her ingredients, a garden she’s more than happy to share with Kate. There’s something a little magical about the fruits of her garden, but it’s an incredible one enclosed in a greenhouse, so there’s a great deal of tropical fruits, flowers, and trees, as well as some exotic birds.
My review: “The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique perfectly blends so much together. The characters are amusing and fun and really carry the story well. The world is romantic, but also hints at the cutthroat culinary world. The romance is sweet and relatively clean. The power of the spices Kate is gifted knocked me for a bit, but it fit with the slight craziness woven into this story thanks in large part to Kate”
Amanda’s Book Corner gave this 4 stars, saying “there’s a lot I loved about The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique: the French setting, culture, and language; the subtle magical realism; the food descriptions; the relationships between friends and family; Juju the cat. It’s only the romance that was a little lacking for me. It got off to a rocky start, but ignoring that, it was overall a sweet relationship”
Books Teacup and Reviews gave this 3.5 stars, saying “In the beginning I thought this will be sraight 5 star read but second half isn’t as good as first half. I didn’t feel the chemistry and dialogues between Kate and Charles are chunky. It didn’t feel romantic when they talked. Honestly, I liked both hating and bantering in first half more than both loving each other!”
Books of My Heart gave this 2.5 stars, saying “I just didn’t care. The characters and plots felt to me like the kind of cozy mysteries I don’t enjoy where they are so quirky and unrealistic. Charles and his family are international billionaires. Kate’s mother is a sex therapist. Crazy, unusual things happen as she works on opening the restaurant. It doesn’t seem like Kate has to work very hard or pay bills, and can take off for whatever at a moment’s notice”
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Powell’s | Target | Walmart | Waterstones (UK) | Booktopia (Australia) | Flipkart (India) | !ndigo (Canada) | Kobo | Audible | Google Books | Apple Books | Thrift Books | Abe Books | Audiobooks | Blackwell’s (UK) | Sandman Books | Libro.fm | Book Outlet | One More Page Books | Aaron’s Books | Port Book and News | Scribd
Check out all the other books featured this month on The Curated Bookshelf.
This blog is my home base, but you can also find me on:
2 thoughts on “Book Highlight: The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Verant”
Thanks again for mention, Kate! I’m glad you enjoyed this more than I did. I agree with you the struggle with restaurant and in the culinary world was well written.