Love in Bloom's
Finally, an enjoyable story that entertains from beginning to end! With its snappy, sassy style and unpredictable characters, Love in Bloom’s is the perfect book to grab for a long day at the beach or any old day when you’re feeling stressed and are longing for a quirky romantic pick-me-up.
When Ben Bloom died unexpectedly one year ago, it left Bloom’s, a booming delicatessen/gourmet grocery in New York, without the dedicated president who made the business a raving success. In the interim, Ben’s younger brother Jay and Ben’s widow Sondra have been running the store while waiting for Grandma Ida, the CEO of Bloom’s, to end her period of mourning and get on with the business of naming the new president. Sondra and Jay both feel they deserve the title, but Ida surprises them both by choosing Julia Bloom, Ben’s oldest daughter instead.
Julia has absolutely no interest in running Bloom’s. She is a young attorney who has worked too hard for too long to throw everything away to work in a deli. But formidable Ida has made her decision and refuses to back down. Her reasoning? Jay spends all day playing on the Internet, Sondra is not a blood relation and has a bad nose job to boot, and Julia’s younger sister Susie has a tattoo. Need she say more? According to Ida, Julia is the only suitable candidate. She’s got the brains and besides she reminds Ida of herself as a young woman. Julia isn’t sure if she should be flattered or insulted and decides to consult with Sondra and Susie. Together they concoct a plan where Julia will maintain her sixty hour work week at the law firm and pretend to be the acting president of Bloom’s, while Sondra secretly runs the show. When Ida keels over (if Ida ever keels over!) Julia will declare Sondra president. Julia is not thrilled, but reluctantly agrees to the kooky plan.
Don’t think things can possibly get worse for our hardworking heroine? Ah, but of course they can! This book is called Love in Bloom’s, after all. Enter Ron Joffe, a nosey but irresistible reporter out to dig up a story on the financial shakiness of Bloom’s. Julia is intensely and unreasonably attracted to Ron, even though it is unlike her to crave a man who is so obviously all wrong for her. He’s annoyingly arrogant and pushy and is quite possibly out to prove to all of New York that she is a failure! Though Julia isn’t the type to fall fast and hard for men (that’s Susie’s department), why can’t she take her eyes off of his dimples?
Julia and Ron don’t actually meet until page 138, but that’s because their romance is only a small part of the story. The entertaining Bloom family dynamics, the detailed tidbits about life as a New Yorker, the mystery of the missing bagels, the family secrets and flighty younger sister Susie’s charming and equally fun romance with Casey, a hunky bagel maker, take up just as much space as the main romance. Amazingly, the story never feels overstuffed and, instead of intruding, these subplots make the book richer.
After they share only two short conversations, Julia and Ron’s fun and sexy romance explodes. This may be too soon for some readers, but it didn’t particularly bother me because of the likable characters and the lighthearted tone. Actually, the main reason the story feels so fresh is because the characters do the unexpected and aren’t saddled with anguish, guilt, and misgivings about their behavior. Julia begins the book as an uptight workaholic and is as surprised as anyone by her passionate relationship with Ron. Their first sexual encounter is described with such enthusiasm and bubbly fun, it’s a crying shame that the rest of their lovemaking takes place off stage. Julia’s worldlier younger sister Susie who enjoys sex and men, often and without commitment, discovers there may be more to men than just a fun romp in bed when she sets her sights on Casey. Their sweet, slowly developing relationship nearly steals the show and is the perfect contrast to Julia’s hot and heavy romance. Best of all, these are people who act, talk and think like actual people I might like to know. They live life fully within these pages and continually entertained and surprised me.
The only minor weakness is that in focusing the point of view on the Bloom family, especially the Bloom women, the romantic plotlines often get short changed. As a result, we know what makes the women-folk tick, but learn too little about Ron and Casey. It was almost as if their lives hadn’t truly begun until they became entangled with the Bloom’s. Though this book had definite DIK possibilities, it ultimately falls short because we’re never given more than a teensy glimpse inside of the guys’ heads and hearts.
Despite that quibble, Love in Bloom’s is a real charmer. It’s one of the few books I’ve read this year that managed to keep me turning the pages with glee, rather than dread. Though I may never have the opportunity to visit New York, this story left me feeling as if I had been there and the only thing I dreaded was turning the final page and returning to the real world.