The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal

For reasons that completely escape me, Ballentine Books decided that one of my favorite authors, Barbara Samuel, needed a new pseudonym to go with her new books.  The reason this baffles me is that I see no real difference between The Lost Recipe for Happiness and the books she’s previously written.  No Place Like Home or A Piece of Heaven, for example, which happen to be two of my favorites, have similar themes, even similar settings.  What gives?

I also have a slight problem with the cover.  The least they could have done was get a dog the right color.  Maybe Duke from the Bush’s Baked Beans commercials instead of a Marley look-a-like.  I’m just saying…

Anyway, on to the book …

After I finished Hot Pursuit, I started to read The Virgin Queen’s Daughter, but it just didn’t fit my mood.  Neither did Linda Howard’s Burn, which I will probably send back to the library, unread, because I was so bored.  Then I picked up The Lost Recipe for Happiness and fell into literary, sensory nirvana.

I loved this book.  If you like Anthony Capella and Marsha Mehran, you have to try Barbara O’Neal/Samuel.  And visa/versa.  There is something so comforting, yet sexy, about food.  In this case, that food is Mexican food made New Mexico style.   Everything just comes to life, even the dead.  It’s all so vivid.  Vital.  As you read, you can just smell the chiles and taste the dark, rich chocolate.  I find myself craving Mexican hot chocolate, never mind that it’s August, and Ivan’s baklava.

Just get yourself a cup of chocolate, pop in some Norah Jones or Ella Fitzgerald, and let yourself fall into the pages.

Rating:  4.25 out of 5 stars

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