Customer Reviews: Recipe for Magic: (A light paranormal romance)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars29
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on November 2, 2012
Please note: This review was written when the title of this book was still THE PERFECT DISH.

There's a man who happens to be a chef - young and sexy. Everyone who sees him wants him and why not? He's successful, attractive, and likes women. There's a woman who is slightly older than him. She's had her share of heartache and has buried two husbands. Attractive, sure, but she doesn't play it up. She likes to hide in herself, even while helping others through grief.

A meeting. A spark. A romance.

THE PERFECT DISH BY Kristen Painter is a story about romance. It's a simple and sweet tale of two people meeting, learning about each other, dealing with problems, and falling in love. There are ups and downs in the relationship. There are also ups and downs in the book itself.

The characters in THE PERFECT DISH aren't really anything to fawn over, though Kelly Spicer was a chef who sounded incredibly gorgeous. He's a bit stereotypical for the most part, a Texan who loves wearing boots, cooking Tex-Mex in his restaurants, and using expressions that made me laugh but also roll my eyes. Dr. Meredith Black, a psychologist who now writes books, is plain but undergoes a makeover thanks to two friends who annoyed me more than words could say. Pushy and demanding to know more about Meredith's love life, Viv and Celia seemed to be complete caricatures. The one character I actually enjoyed reading about was Shelby, Kelly's younger sister, though she only appeared in a few scenes. She was actually the catalyst for Kelly and Meredith meeting, though she didn't know.

Plot-wise, it's cutesy. There's really no other words for it. There are a few hot kisses but Painter definitely fades to black, so to speak, and I found it refreshing, to be quite honest. There's evidence that the main characters have done some business between the sheets but it's not in anyone's face and is really only referred back to or spoken about in passing. That definitely gave this book a higher rating because it was done well. My biggest problem with this book is that the description mentions a magic cookbook yet it almost seemed like the item was thrown in after the story was created. The cookbook was mentioned briefly in the first chapter, made an appearance later on, then disappeared until the big reveal where everything is talked about. I almost feel as though the story would have benefited from taking it out completely. It felt like it was a ploy to try to get readers of the supernatural or fantasy genres to bite but it wasn't enough to satisfy.

In the end, THE PERFECT DISH is cute, something to bring along to the beach or pool come summer. It's not perfectly written; the book could have definitely used a bit of line-editing but nothing too big that it will destroy one's reading of this fun book. Just don't assume there will be much magic like the description might suggest.

-- originally reviewed on Ordinary People, Extraordinary Works --
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on December 28, 2010
Another warm, witty, wonderful story from one of my favorite authors. Kristen has created a number of worldly, fun ladies who can shop with the best of them, especially when helping out a reluctant friend. And a hero who cooks, wields a little magic and wants to help his little sister out of her grief-induced doldrums - who could ask for more? I could hear that Texas twang all the way over here in Florida. He probably uses that smile to melt the chocolate for his persuasion-laced delights. Thank goodness this is one holiday treat that won't show up on my hips, because I gobbled it up in a few quick bites. Thanks, Kristen, for a fast-paced little gem of a story - the kind that always leaves me hungry for more...
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on February 26, 2014
I've always thought that people who decide to become a writer should first have a good command of the English language and grammar. Editing is also a good plus or else you hire one to do it for you. There were a lot of errors in the book - poorly constructed sentences with missing prepositions, etc. Elementary for an editor - words misused - sorted for sordid and reveal for revel. The story otherwise was cute and fun - great story line and great characters - I just have a really hard time getting past the editing problems, which allows me to only award 3 stars.
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VINE VOICEon March 14, 2012
The description for this book focuses on the sorcery that the Kelly uses to entice Meredith to counsel his sister through her grief, but I felt like the magic cookbook played a negligible role in the story and really wasn't necessary because it's almost a non-issue plot-wise. What is more important is the age difference between Kelly and Mery. She's twelve years older and, having already buried two husbands whom she truly loved, she isn't comfortable getting involved with a younger man. The issue that Mery faces is well described and I love the characterization of the two friends that help her get over it.

The story starts with Kelly and Mery's first meeting when he presents her with enchanted chocolates to persuade her to help his sister. The "magic" gets a few more mentions in the story, but I think Kelly was adept enough at flirting and making Mery fall in love with him that that's where the true magic was. The romance develops logically and the dates the couple go on are cute and fun reading. There's definite sexual tension, but the sex is all behind closed doors.

Where the book lost a star for me was with too many subplots that didn't get fleshed out enough and weren't necessary for the main plot to advance. For example, Kelly and Mery met at a book signing (she's written books on psychology, he's got a new cookbook out). They didn't need the sister's grief counseling to throw them together. In fact, the "counseling" the sister receives is so brief that it really doesn't contribute to the romance plot. Likewise, when Mery attempts to find out about the Kelly's childhood, we get this explanation of his mother's misuse of the magic cookbook and her lack of affection for her son. The woman was simply a bad mother, the use of magic didn't really matter. When Mery finds out about the cookbook, there is a big argument, but as it only lasts for a few pages, I don't think it was necessary at all.

I enjoyed Kristen Painter's writing style and her pacing kept the romance moving right along.
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VINE VOICEon May 8, 2011
I read and enjoyed Kristen's book Heart of Fire, even though I don't usually read fantasy romance, so when I saw that she had a book out that was a contemporary romance featuring a chef, I knew I had to read it. I loved this book. The hero, Kelly was just delicious. He's cute, a successful and innovative chef, and he cares deeply about his sister, so much so that he goes out of his way to approach Dr. Meredith Black, a noted grief specialist, in hopes that she can help his sister learn to deal with the loss of her husband. What he doesn't expect is that he will fall hard for Meredith. Unfortunately, she has already lost two husbands herself, and even though her head knows that their deaths weren't her fault, her heart does not want to open up to a new man for fear of being hurt yet again. Adding to the obstacles to overcome is a fairly significant age difference between the two leads. Meredith is 10+ years older than Kelly and she sees that as yet another reason why they shouldn't get involved, even though he doesn't see it as any kind of obstacle at all. All he knows is that he's wildly attracted to her and wants to explore that attraction. In addition to this, Kristen throws in just a touch of magic to make the book even more fun to read.

The characters (both primary and secondary) were well-drawn and sympathetic, there was lots of good dialog, and the food descriptions were pretty tasty also. I also liked that although there was plenty of heat, sparks, and chemistry between Kelly and Meredith, the bedroom scenes were not explicit. Sometimes I get so tired of romances that are just one sex scene after another. It's a lovely change of pace to read one that isn't a Christian romance, but that keeps the bedroom door pretty much closed. All in all, a fast read and a satisfying contemporary romance that I would recommend to anyone.
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on January 30, 2012
Funny at times, The Perfect Dish wasn't exactly what I expected. Kelly Spicer, Famous Chef in New York City, wants nothing more than to help his sister get over the death of her husband. Using a little extra persuasion from his family's magical cookbook, he convinces the best selling psychologist and grief author Meredith Black to help his sister try and get pass the startling grief. However, there is a lot Kelly doesn't know about Meredith and his heart has a mind of its own.

I had originally downloaded The Perfect Dish for 2 reasons. First, it was by Kristen Painter and I'm a huge fan of her Blood Rights series. Second, it was free and that hit on my one and only challenge for the year, Why Buy the Cow. I'm sad to say though, I only liked this book. It wasn't really that bad and one of the reasons I only liked it is truly a personal thing.

The Perfect Dish, was mostly well written. Kristen Painter does an excellent job of winding up a story that makes the reader want to continue on. My only real problem with the story line though is the magical cookbook. It was such a small portion of the book that it almost seemed like it wasn't necessary. Like the whole book could have stood on its own without the "magical cookbook". I would have loved if the magical cookbook would have been a bigger part of the story, but I like paranormal aspects in books.

Now, my personal "thing" with the book. What do you all think when you see that cover? I think, with such a large whisk, this book has some tantalizing promise of some excellent romance scenes. That is where my complaint comes in. Now remember, this is truly a personal thing. My complaint is quite a few peoples joy. There were no "bedroom" scenes. There was all this buildup and tension complete with a shirt ripping in the back of a taxi cab, and no follow up detail. I don't mind a clean romance, but you have to understand that there were quite a few instances that hinted at the nature of this book not being a clean romance and that's kind of why I wanted to read it. Anyway, like I said, personal opinion.

Overall though, the story was pretty good. I still enjoy Kristen Painter's writing and pacing and I think she has a knack for writing good books. There were a few characters that could have used further development and Meredith was stubborn as hell which was something I liked about her. So, I give The Perfect Dish a 3 out of 5 and recommend it to those who enjoy Adult Fiction with a touch of the Paranormal. Also, it's fairly clean as in there are no sex scenes, you just know they are going on and there is not really any swearing. I'd probably rate it a PG-13 on a movie scale.
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on February 14, 2012
This is almost a straight romance novel; the magic is more the leavening in this dish than the flour. That said, the characters are likable, and you're rooting for them to get together the whole way. If you like your hero to be a bit on the sensitive side, but not a wuss, I would recommend this book.
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on February 6, 2012
Cute story with good plot ....the hunky chef tries to get the lady psychologist to help his widowed grieving sister...and falls for the good doctor himself. The only change I would make is to get rid of the hokey magic cookbook. It adds nothing to the story.
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on September 29, 2015
I fell in love with this story. It was a great read I really felt for both characters so much that I had to take a few breaks from them because I was getting too emotionally involved in their lives and shouting and calling your kindle stupid in public places gets me all kinds of weird looks. Lol! Well any hoo I received this book for my honest review.
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on July 28, 2015
A cat and mouse tale as old as time. The only difference beside the magical twist is the Cougar is the mouse and the man 12 years younger is her cat. A steamy bachelor of the year chases the hot cougar doctor; only after realizing he needed help with his grieving sister. The good doctor is in a bit of a pickle as well, and may be using him just as inadvertantly as he is using her.
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