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The Lost Recipe for Happiness Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2008

88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty years ago, Elena Alvarez, the chef heroine of O'Neal's bland kitchen romance, was the sole survivor of a car accident that left her badly scarred and haunted by the sister and boyfriend she lost in the crash. Attempting to escape the specter of the accident and buoyed by her love of cooking, Elena drifted to culinary school in Europe and eventually ends up at an upscale Vancouver restaurant, where her passion and skills capture the attention of celebrity restaurateur Julian Liswood, who hires her as the executive chef of a new restaurant he is opening in Aspen, Colo. Elena relishes the opportunity, even as she recognizes the potential disasters, both romantic and job-related, inherent in the feelings she has for her boss. As the new endeavor finds its footing in Aspen's restaurant scene, she, too, begins to find a home. Unfortunately, O'Neal doesn't bring anything new to an already busy subgenre: the plot is formulaic, the prose is tepid and her main character is too narrowly drawn to have much appeal.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Elena Alvarez was involved in a horrific car accident as a teenager outside of Santa Fe. The sole survivor, she threw herself into her work and is now a successful chef. She has just been fired from her job when Julian Linswood, horror movie director and restaurant owner, asks her to take over the restaurant he has just bought in Aspen. Bringing everything together for the grand opening is an uphill battle against the deposed chef, who tries to turn the kitchen staff against her, and Elena’s own growing attraction to Julian, and his attraction to her. The ghosts, both literally and figuratively, of the accident also get in the way. Elena must bury the past and put her ghosts to rest to achieve success, happiness, and peace in the new restaurant and her own life. A predictable story with an easily guessed ending, but foodies will love Elena’s lavish menu creations and the southwestern-themed recipes scattered throughout the book. --Hilary Hatton --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Discovery (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553591681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553591682
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,041,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Alison Kent on January 2, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been a fan of Barbara Samuel since reading my first Ruth Wind authored Silhouette Special Edition. I followed her into her historicals, then stayed with her as she moved into big women's fiction. For me to want to put my life on hold and read an author's work, she has to own her voice, to be a confident master of her prose, and Barbara does it every time. She is a brilliant storyteller, one who wields the tools of a wordsmith with such skill that getting lost for hours in her world is pure pleasure.

Her latest book, THE LOST RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS written as Barbara O'Neal (Bantam Discovery, trade $13, mmpb $6.99, 464 pages, December 30) continues her exploration of troubled, damaged women who find their place in life, make peace with their past, and allow themselves the love of a good man. Elena Alvarez is hired as executive chef to take over a failing Aspen restaurant owned by restauranteur and movie mogul Julian Liswood. Julian also owned the Vancouver restaurant from which she was fired as sous chef the very day he asked her to resurrect what becomes The Orange Bear. Elena has her work cut out for her, dealing with a kitchen staff of illegal immigrants, a previous executive chef whom she dubs Rasputin, the pressure of being a female chef running her own kitchen (and with a boss to whom she is attracted), and working on her feet for long grueling hours with her physical body betraying her.

As a teenager, Elena was the sole survivor of a horrible car accident that killed two siblings, a cousin, and her boyfriend. Her sister, Isobel, and Edwin, whom she was to marry, still appear to her all these years later, as Elena's survivor's guilt keeps her rooted to her past -- and unable to put down roots in any of the cities where she's worked. Aspen is different, however.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lee Rhuday on December 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
Barbara O'Neal offers a scrumptious feast in The Lost Recipe for Happiness, a Bantam Discovery book. If you like food and love - and who doesn't? - there's plenty to savor in this story of Elena Alvarez, a chef who must free herself from the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future.
Life got an early start in teaching Elena that nothing lasts forever. Abandoned by her single mom, she found a new home and new loves, only to have tragedy rip her away from them. When movie producer Julian Liswood offers her a second chance - at love and at carving her own name in culinary fame - Elena searches for signs and the strength to believe in a forever kind of love.
The Lost Recipe for Happiness offers terrific insights into the demanding world beyond the dining room's swinging doors as Elena and her staff of delightfully wounded souls create the Orange Bear, Aspen's newest world-class restaurant. This is a man's world, one that seriously challenges even the hardiest individual. Elena, who fights daily battles against the ravages of a tragic car accident, relies on sheer strength of will as she pits herself against the daunting physical demands of her new job as executive chef. But will her strength of will be her undoing? Will it prevent her from embracing true love when it's finally her turn at the table?
The Lost Recipe for Happiness tells a great story in a wonderfully engaging manner. Those with a passion for food will drool over the sumptuous descriptions and mouth-watering recipes (I've tried a few and they are fab.) A delightful supporting cast, including a gorgeous bear of a dog and a guileless teenager who reminds Elena of possibilities, add to the ambiance. With a story of love and redemption that brings the reader to tears and warms the heart, Barbara O'Neal has gently folded all the right ingredients together to make The Lost Recipe for Happiness a must-have for every bookshelf.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Target Girl on June 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Easy to read book with great recipes included between some chapters. Easy to get lost in the book and feel like you are in the kitchen of the restaurant enjoying the smells of the food.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Keiffer on June 12, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I seriously just came off of a 3 day stint of ignoring my husband and 3 children while reading this book. I became so attached to the characters that I simply could not put this book down. I had to keep on reading. I love to cook, so there was a natural draw there, on its own. But I came to relate to Elena in so many ways and kept hoping for her to come to terms with the ghosts she was dealing with. This is a great, easy read. It would be perfect for a long plane ride. A chance to escape for a couple of days. I plan to look up more titles by this author. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By dcbooklover on March 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this food lovers' novel, Elena Alvarez is an accomplished Santa Fe-trained chef with Mexican roots and a Southwestern flair to her elegant food. When she is offered the opportunity to become the executive chef at a new restaurant in Aspen, Colorado, owned by a Hollywood director who dabbles in the restaurant business, Elena jumps at the opportunity. But the process of opening the restaurant and developing the menu turns out to be more challenging than Elena expected. She must deal with Ivan, the surly former executive chef who has been demoted to her sous chef and who, despite his culinary brilliance, is battling alcohol and personal demons. She also must deal with her intense attraction to Julian Liswood, her boss and, as a Hollywood hottie, someone Elena believes to be totally out of her league (as well as a father to a 14-year old troubled teen). In addition, Elena has physical and emotional scars from a catastrophic car accident from her childhood and both pose obstacles to her ability to realize her dream of running her own successful kitchen.

This is the first book I've read by Barbara O'Neal and I was surprised by how much depth and complexity there was to both the plot and characters. I adore books about food, cooking, chefs and the like so the book was a natural draw for me but I was expecting it to be more light-hearted and so its deeper, more complex approach was a welcome surprise. The characters, particularly Elena and Ivan, are deeply scarred but strong and passionate and determined. The book is filled with funny and insightful glimpses into professional kitchens and cooking in a way that is inspiring, rather than intimidating. The dishes created and remembered in Elena's kitchen were so vividly described I could almost taste them. Overall, a very impressive and enjoyable read.
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