I'm reading a bunch of kind of depressing books, trying to power through them and get them out of the way. If I read a chapter a day I'll get through them eventually, right? I hope. (History of Rome in 35 books anyone? I don't think I've ready anything so violent and rapey since I last read the bible. Also a Journal of the Plague Year about the black death in London in 1665 and yet another book about the French Revolution. All clear indications I've lost my mind.) Anyway, when Net Galley offered me an ARC (free advance review copy) of a romance novel called Reserved, by Tracy Ewens, I jumped at the chance. I definitely needed a nice palate cleanser. Reserved is a very sweet, charming romance set in a restaurant backdrop.

Makenna is a single mother who works for two family businesses; a farm and the restaurant, called the Yard. (It used to be a lumberyard.) She does the “noncreative” things like the paperwork and the scheduling while her brother and his friend Travis come up with interesting new food combinations. They have all been working together for a few years and all is going smoothly, until Kenna has a dream that places Travis smack into her kitchen, wearing pajama bottoms and nothing else.

Now she can't look him in the face, and is spending way too much looking at his various luscious body parts. He notices the new awkwardness and asks about it. When he discovers the reason, his longtime low grade crush on Kenna kicks up into a higher gear. Naturally this leads to complications and conflict.

Both Travis and Kenna are damaged; but in very different ways. Kenna is still scarred by her husband's sudden death and is afraid to do anything that will upset the balance of her new, carefully formulated life while Travis comes from a family of awful people, who wrote him off when an injury prevented him from devoting his life to sports. They don't see his delicious, delicious cooking as anything other than running away from his family and his destiny.

I liked how sweet this story is and the tender relationships between Kenna's daughter Paige and the other characters. She lost her father when she was only five weeks old, (she is now almost six) but she has a very loving relationship with her grandpa and her two uncles. Her friendship with “My Travis” as she calls him is also warming up, with her relying on him as a father figure more and more. (She enlists him in her culinary war with a fellow student, a girl called Sierra who she classifies as a “predator.”)

There were only a couple of little things that interfered with my enjoyment of Reserved. I was a little weirded by some of the insistence on “manliness.” One character puts the kibosh on a potential date because his favorite movie is Princess Bride, which isn't manly enough. Come on, it has swordfighting, pirates, revenge; what could be more manly than that? Not to mention that Jon Huertas, who plays Esposito on Castle, is a big Princess Bride fan. You really can't get any manlier than Jon Huertas. The other thing that bugged me, albeit only a little bit? Call me morbid but I wanted to know how Kenna's husband died. He was fine when the baby was born and then dead five weeks later. An accident? Some godawful fast moving illness? I'll never know.

But those were minor quibbles; easily overlooked in the sheer fun of this story. I was pretty psyched to see that Sage, Kenna's dear friend, is going to be the star of her own book, called Stirred, in the near future. I'm definitely going to look for the rest of the books in this series, especially while I an bogged down in heavy historical tomes.

You can find an excerpt here, if you scroll down a bit.

If you choose to purchase the novel using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is something to play with while you are out enjoying the sunshine (assuming you have that where you live) and the breezes. It's a pdf for a paper airplane called the Dragonfly and it's pretty sweet. Enjoy! There are some very specific printing instructions at the bottom of this page, along with several other design styles.