Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs: review and giveaway

The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate
Women's fiction*Paperback & e-book, 320 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Hyperion (first published December 6th 2012)

Hannah Sugarman seems to have it all. She works for an influential think tank in Washington, D.C., lives in a swanky apartment with her high-achieving boyfriend, and is poised for an academic career just like her parents. The only problem is that Hannah doesn’t want any of it. What she wants is much simpler: to cook.

When her relationship collapses, Hannah seizes the chance to do what she’s always loved and launches an underground supper club out of her new landlord’s town house. Though her delicious dishes become the talk of the town, her secret venture is highly problematic, given that it is not, technically speaking, legal. She also conveniently forgets to tell her landlord she has been using his place while he is out of town.

On top of that, Hannah faces various romantic prospects that leave her guessing and confused, parents who don’t support cooking as a career, and her own fears of taking a risk and charting her own path. A charming romantic comedy, The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs is a story about finding yourself, fulfilling your dreams, and falling in love along the way.

About the author:
Dana Bate

Dana Bate graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, then became a broadcast journalist with a specialization in finance and business, and then gave it all up to write romantic comedies.

Don’t worry: none of this makes sense to her parents either.

Her debut novel, THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS (published in the UK as THE SECRET SUPPER CLUB), will be published by Hyperion in February. Her writing has appeared in outlets ranging from to Culinate, and before writing full time, she was an award-winning producer and reporter for the PBS Nightly Business Report. She recently returned to her roots in Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband.

When I look at the cover of The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, I want to run my finger along the edge of that cupcake and lick the icing, but like the main character Hannah, it's not real and like the picture, reading Hannah's story was absorbing. For a couple of hours I was transported into a fun, romantic, and appetizing tale.

From her exterior, Hannah Sugarman seems to have it all from the nice boyfriend to the great job. Deep down, she knows her guy isn't great and she detests her job. She's been following along in the position her parents chose out of obligation, not out of love for the field. Her passion? Cooking. When her boyfriend Adam (see, I said he wasn't nice) tosses her out, she has to look for a place to live in Washington DC. When she finds a place in the basement of Blake's building, Hannah sees the opportunity of her lifetime has arrived. She can host her very own supper club.

Supper club? When I first heard the term I thought it was an illegal group dealing with something like bondage (there are so many book covers with women tied up with pictures of fruit so that explains my thinking). I had no idea what a secret supper club was or that they even existed. They're like traveling restaurants where people will fork over money to eat your food. Isn't that cool?  But Hannah's kitchen is kinda small so she uses her friend Rachel's suggestion to use Blake's gorgeous infrequently used gourmet kitchen when he's away on business. With this set-up the reader knows something is bound to happen and I already liked Blake so I sat back and waited.

Besides finding my mouth watering at times from the lush descriptions of Hannah's meals, there were some times I couldn't believe the decisions she made. Since this is chick-lit, we need some amount of zany and Hannah provided it along with an interesting array of nice and not nice characters. Occasionally the story's pacing slowed down and some situations were unbelievable, but I went along with all of it simply because I enjoyed Dana Bate's writing and the world she created (and there are recipes!). It was refreshing to see a romance develop between two characters over time after they had become friends. That is believable and for me to truly like a chick-lit story, the romance has to be real. Hannah and Blake were.

Humorous situations, a sweet romance, and lots of cooking, The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs was a delightfully and delicious read. Chick-lit lovers will devour Hannah's story up (and that's the last of my foodie terms). Open up this book and let the secret world of supper clubs draw you in like it did to me. I congratulate author Dana Bate on her debut novel.

Rating: 4 Really liked it!

Cover comment: I already established how I feel about the cover art in my opening paragraph. De-lish!

Book source: I received a promotional copy from BookSparks in return for my honest review during a book tour.

We want to pass on our good fortune. We thank BookSparks for the paperback and now want to give our gently read book away to one reader (US residents only). Our giveaway ends at midnight on March 17th.
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