Table for Two
Table for Two is Dara Girad’s debut novel and a promising start for a new author. The book’s heroine is a plus-sized woman with lots of emotional baggage of which she remains unaware while the hero is a chef obsessed with food.
Cassie Graham is a self-help guru who helps people deal with their social inadequacies. Her marriage failed, and her career is in trouble; if her next book is not a hit she may be dropped by her publisher. Drake Henson worked himself out of poverty and has spent his entire life working and caring for his younger siblings. He may have rough edges, but he’s become the best chef he knows how to be. Drake’s ten year reunion is coming up and he wants to make an impression on the one girl he was to afraid to approach in high school. He takes Cassie’s class hoping to learn social skills but manages to fall in love instead.
Drake and Cassie realize the attraction between them is strong. Cassie fights it but Drake quickly succumbs and begins to woo Cassie. They have a couple of fantastic dates where their issues quickly come to the fore. Cassie is not willing to trust another man with her heart after her first husband stomped on it. She is also very conscious about her weight. Add Drake’s insecurities about his shyness, his past, and his obsession with food, and the couple has a pantry full of problems.
What worked best for me in the book was the dialogue between Cassie and Drake. Unlike many lead characters in a romance novel, these two actually talk to each other. Their issue isn’t a lack of communication, it’s baggage. Another factor in my enjoyment was Drake – his character was super-manly and charming. He didn’t hide behind his money and was very open with Cassie. The book also had a mystery sub-plot that at first annoyed me, and then I realized I couldn’t determine who the bad guy was – in the end I was totally surprised. And Girard did a great job of bringing the secondary characters into the story. They were interesting without taking away from the main characters.
What worked less well was how Cassie dealt with the weight issue. For some reason I thought that because her job was to help people, she would know that you can not put weight loss in someone else’s control. I wanted her to take charge and fix it but she never did that to my satisfaction. My other problem with the book was that Cassie and Drake broke up too often during the course of the story. Near the end I wanted to shake Drake and shout at him to “Leave the girl alone! She can not get it together! There must be someone else out there for you!” The author does pull it all together at the end so that the couple has their HEA, and it’s believable.
For a first novel Girard shows a lot of promise. She created interesting and well-rounded characters, a fast-paced and, for the most part, a believable plot. I look forward to the story of Drake’s brother Eric, Gaining Interest, to be released in May.