There are two things I absolutely cannot resist: a smart Jane Austen retelling and a Food Network cooking competition. Never did I think these two worlds would collide, but thanks to Sonali Dev’s latest novel, they have. I fell in love with Dev’s writing last year through Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, and she’s just added a fabulous new literary dish to the menu with Recipe for Persuasion.
Recipe for Persuasion tells the story of Bay Area chef Ashna Raje, who is as desperate to save her family restaurant as she is to prove her worth to her estranged mother. Taking center stage on the new Food Network show Cooking with the Stars seems like the last thing Ashna would consider doing, but if it means prize money and publicity for her beloved Curried Dreams, she’s all in. She just doesn’t anticipate that her celebrity partner will be FIFA-winning soccer star Rico Silva, the first love she hasn’t seen or spoken to in a decade. Although Ashna and Rico have kept their love story and heartbreak a secret from even their closest family and friends, their chemistry in the kitchen is undeniable. While coping with her feelings for the one who got away, Ashna is also dealing with the return of her mother, who has locked away a lifetime of secrets of her own. Recipe for Persuasion perfectly blends romance with complex family relationships to serve up the many ways that love can leave a person in half agony, half hope. I simply devoured it, and it left me yearning for another helping.
When I read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors and learned that Sonali Dev was writing another Austen-inspired novel about the Raje family, I was thrilled, especially because Persuasion is one of my favorite Austen tales (second only to Sense and Sensibility) and Captain Wentworth is hands-down my favorite Austen hottie. (What can I say? I appreciate a man who can write a letter.) Recipe for Persuasion delivered on all of my expectations and then some. As with Flavors, it pays beautiful homage to the source material while standing on its own as a true original. As swept up as I was in the aching and longing between Ashna and Rico, I was even more captured by the strained relationship between Ashna and her mother, Shobi, and the history of how they got to this point. I wanted to wrap both characters in my arms and hold them there, instead, I tucked them right into my heart, where I know they’ll stay forever.
Fans of Jane Austen will love the nods to Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth’s love story, but even if you’ve never read Jane Austen in your life, you’ll appreciate this wonderful novel all on its own. While Recipe for Persuasion follows the same family as Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, you can read them in any order. (Although I do recommend that you read both, because they’re fabulous, fabulous books!) I sincerely hope Sonali Dev continues with this series—in part because I love the way she can spin a tale as old as time into something entirely new, and in part because I simply can’t get enough of the Raje family and can’t wait to see where she takes them next.
Recipe for Persuasion is out today wherever books are sold! Order your copy from bookshop.org, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller. For more on Sonali Dev and her wonderful books, visit sonalidev.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!