Friday, February 23, 2018

"The Saturday Night Supper Club" by Carla Laureano

Fans of foodie novels—like Hillary Manton Lodge's Two Blue Doors series—will love The Saturday Night Supper Club!

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

Genre: Christian fiction/romance fiction
Release Date: February 6, 2018

Completely fascinating. Those are the words that first came to mind when I finished The Saturday Night Supper Club. Full of compelling characters, delectable descriptions of food, and real-life issues, this is a novel to be savored.

After Rachel is pushed out of her restaurant due to events at least partially set in motion by an article written by Alex, he seeks to make amends. They come up with the idea for a Supper Club—an exclusive dining experience for some of Denver's most influential people. I found everything around the Supper Club to be totally compelling, from the planning to the execution to the guests.

The supporting characters are a particular strength of this novel. Sometimes supporting characters seem like little more than an afterthought, but not so here. In fact, I wish we could've spent more time with several of them! I already know from the teaser at the back that Rachel's friend Melody is the subject of the next book, and I'd guess that her friend Ana will also get a book of her own. Alex's family situation, with his Russian immigrant parents and rebellious sister Dina, is ripe for more exploring, and I hope we'll get to learn more about them in future novels.

I have to admit that the romance portion of this novel wasn't my favorite. I loved Alex and Rachel as characters, I enjoyed their easy banter, and I could identify with some of the things holding them back, but I didn't particularly care about their romance. (Interestingly enough, I said almost exactly the same thing about the characters in London Tides, the only other Laureano novel I've read.) I could easily see this as a movie, though, and I'm sure with the right actors, I'd love it 😉.

But not loving the romance didn't keep me from loving this book! To me, the book is more about Rachel's journey to get past some of the hurts of her past and figure out who exactly God made her to be than it is about two people falling in love. (And the romance isn't bad—I just didn't particularly connect with it or yearn for Alex and Rachel to be together.) I really, really enjoyed The Saturday Night Supper Club, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series next year with Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe. 4 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my review of Laureano's London Tides (4 stars).
Follow the blog tour:
Rachel Scott McDaniel, February 20
A Baker’s Perspective, February 20
Just Commonly, February 20
Mommynificent, February 21
Among The Reads, February 21
A Greater Yes, February 21
proud to be an autism mom, February 21
Fiction Aficionado, February 22
Quiet Quilter, February 22
The Power of Words, February 23
Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 23
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 23
Janices book reviews, February 24
C Jane Read, February 24
Faery Tales Are Real, February 24
All of a Kind Mom, February 25
Inklings and notions, February 25
Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 25
Carpe Diem, February 26
Smiling Book Reviews, February 26
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 26
Splashes of Joy, February 27
Its Storytime with Van Daniker, February 27
Simple Harvest Reads, February 27 (Guest post from Mindy)
Radiant Light, February 28
Moments Dipped in Ink, February 28
Baker kella, February 28
Pause for Tales, March 1
Book by Book, March 1
Bigreadersite, March 1
The Fizzy Pop Collection, March 2
Have A Wonderful Day, March 2
Reader’s Cozy Corner, March 2
Bibliophile Reviews, March 3
Two Points of Interest, March 3
Reading is my Super Power, March 3
Texas Book-aholic, March 4
amandainpa, March 4
Singing Librarian Books, March 4
By The Book, March 5
Neverending Stories, March 5
Pursuing Stacie, March 5

To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize of a $200 Visa Card for the winner and a friend to attend a cooking class!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

Guest Post by Carla Laureano

I’ve got a confession to make: I have a cooking problem.

It started early and innocently enough, flipping through my mom’s cookbooks and marking things I wanted to try. Making cakes and muffins from a mix. Flipping frozen steak patties. Doctoring canned spaghetti sauce.

It wasn’t long before I got into the hard stuff: muffins from scratch, slow-cooked marinara, cast-iron seared and oven-finished rib eyes. Over the years, I tried to kick the habit numerous times, but every time things got tough, I found myself falling off the wagon and heading back into the kitchen. Even hosting dinner parties. Yes, dear reader, I pulled my hapless friends into my madness. To my shame, I even got some of them hooked with their own addiction.

Before I knew it, my obsessions started creeping into my day job. No longer was it enough to write contemporary romance about normal people who order take-out. No, I had to write chefs and passionate home cooks and describe the food in the books just as lovingly as I did a first kiss. And then the final straw—a book series centered entirely on food and the culinary profession, beginning with The Saturday Night Supper Club.

All joking aside, cooking really is an addiction that I haven’t been able to kick. As a writer, I spend hours locked in my own imagination, creating things out of words and ideas. And while it’s immensely fulfilling, it’s a long, painstaking process that takes months, even years, before I can release the final product into the world. While there’s a large amount of planning and analysis involved in creating a book, the work is still mostly in my head.

Which is why I find cooking to be such a relaxing creative pursuit. Dicing a pile of vegetables into perfectly uniform cubes may take the same concentration and precision, but it’s concrete and measurable. It becomes a personal challenge to do something better than last time, improving by tiny, nearly imperceptible increments. It’s the closest to meditation that my always-on brain ever experiences, clear of all thought except for my activity at the present moment.

And yet, simultaneously, food is ephemeral. Mistakes last only as long as it takes to eat them or toss them directly into the trash can, depending on the nature of the mistake. If a sauce breaks, I toss it and start over. If I burn something, I either cut off the burned part or I order takeout and try again the next day. There’s an element of experimentation and instinct and whimsy that isn’t hampered by the pursuit of perfection. Let’s face it, a mediocre chocolate chip cookie beats a perfect celery stick any day of the week.

It was natural, then, to write a chef heroine who had dedicated her entire life to the pursuit of culinary perfection and explore all the ways that food makes our lives and relationships richer. How it anchors our memories. How we nurture others by feeding them. How a simple meal becomes meaningful not because of the food, but because of the connections we form with others over the dinner table.

In the end, I guess my cooking problem isn’t that much of a problem after all. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free through Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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