There are times, my literary foodies, that we have to sit back and enjoy life’s simpler pleasures. While we may often pine for ground-breaking and complex genre fusions and intense deconstructive works, what we don’t realize is that often all we want is a good meal, even if it is a deceptively simple one. Today’s meal has the aroma of just such a meal. A straightforward, character-driven, contemporary romance, there are no implications of vast complexity in Ambrosia by the Sea, so let’s see if simple is best in today’s review.
Before we discover the truth, let us check the Starving Review rules:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible
If a recipe can’t rely on the complex spices inherent to a complex genre or fusion blend, then it had better stick the fundamental ingredients to all good literature. Here is where Ambrosia proves that its literary cooking matches up to the cooking depicted in the book itself. The real impression on the reader is made through the strong characters and dynamics of the meal.
The chef here shows a great skill in crafting wholly believable characters, as well as the good sense to show proper focus. Some chefs might start throwing around large numbers of characters, doubling down on what they are proficient in, but Ms. Hall keeps the spotlight on a small cast and most especially on our two lead protagonists. She knows what works best for this type of recipe and has the discipline to stay on target.
And that really really works here. The romantic chemistry leads to rich flavors, while still giving the world a lived-in feel by adding just the right amount and depth of minor characters. Everyone feels three-dimensional with enough hints as to past histories and current lives to not feel like tools left about for the protagonists to interact with, something that is easier talked about than put into practice.
Really, to say much more could veer into SPOILER territory, so let’s wrap this up.
Ambrosia by the Sea is a simple but delightful romantic meal that does everything you would want it to. If you are looking for a romantic tale that feels real despite the sleepy resort town setting, definitely pick this one up.
FINAL VERDICT: ***** (A simple but delightful romantic meal that does everything you would want it to!)