An Indie Next List Notable
THE LOVE GODDESS' COOKING SCHOOL
Italian Cooking Classes
Fresh take-home pastas and sauces daily
Holly Maguire's grandmother was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine–a Milanese fortune teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can't make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that's why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla's Cucinotta, she's determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother's legacy.
But Holly's four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla's chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter's heart. Juliet, Holly's childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can't find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend.
As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla's essential ingredients of wishes and memories into every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed–and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.
Tender, charming, and seasoned with a pinch of old-world magic, The Love Goddess’s Cooking School is a warmly rendered story of loss, heartache, and starting over. Melissa Senate has created a delightful cast of characters who learn about life, love, and the mess they’ve made of both while in, and out of, the kitchen." –Beth Hoffman, bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
"The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate reads like a recipe for reinvention, filled with hope and seasoned liberally with forgiveness. But the real magic here is Melissa Senate's writing, which laps rhythmically against your heart like gentle waves along the coast." –Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs and Seven Year Switch
"Senate (See Jane Date) serves up a delicious mix of wishes and memories with more than a dash of spice in her latest novel centered on healing and cooking. The story opens as Holly Maguire returns to her grandmother's home on Blue Crab Island in order to make sense of her life, loves, and gifts. Through rebuilding her grandmother's cooking school, Holly learns about events in the past that defined her family's role in local society and established her grandmother as a gifted fortune-teller. Themes of healing, love, and loss circle effortlessly to create mystery, magic, and authentic romance. Voices from Holly's past add gently complicating layers to the narrative and keep the story moving at a satisfying clip. Senate has a tender and humorous touch with her characters and a straightforward style that finds magic in the quotidian. "As she cut out her squares and stuffed each ravioli with the spinach and cheese, she checked the recipe for the final ingredient. A wish." Senate handles the hefty topics of loss and remembrances with lightness and respect and in so doing, redefines comfort food." –Publishers Weekly
THE LOVE GODDESS' COOKING SCHOOL is an original trade paperback published on October 26th by Simon and Schuster's
Gallery Books. You can order
your copy from Amazon or any online bookstore right this minute!
And yes, there are recipes! Kid-tested by my eight-year-old son, particularly Camilla's Cucinotta Tiramisu.
The Love Goddess' Cooking School was selected as an Indie Next List Notable
for November 2010 and short-listed for the American Library Association's RUSA reading list in the women's fiction category!
Visit the Simon and Schuster website for an excerpt
(Chapter One) from The Love Goddess' Cooking School and
the Reading Group Guide
Foreign Rights have been sold in Portugal, Korea, and Poland!
REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS, GUEST BLOG POSTS!
THE SECRET OF JOY
(published November 2009)
Rebecca Strand, a 28-year-old New York City paralegal in a divorce mediation firm, is shocked when her dying father confesses his long-ago affair–and the baby he'd turned his back on. This fragile connection to 26-year-old half-sister Joy Joyhawk is all Rebecca has left of family. And so with her lawyer boyfriend's protests ringing in her ears ("She's just going to want her share of his million-dollar estate!"), Rebecca drives to Wiscasset, Maine, with the 26 letters her father wrote to Joy (but never sent) every year on her birthday. Having no idea what to expect, Rebecca knocks on Joy Jayhawk's door.
Turns out Joy, the separated mother of a little boy (Rebecca has a nephew too!), isn't very interested in the "father" who turned his back on her existence from day one–or her "sister." But Rebecca is so determined to establish family bonds with Joy that she doesn't go home . . . and finds herself being welcomed into small life by some very loveable, quirky characters, including the Divorced Ladies Club of Wiscasset and a sexy carpenter named Theo . . .
Booklist magazine calls THE SECRET OF JOY "Another warm, winning entry from popular chick lit author Senate."
Here's what one of my favorite authors, Claire LaZebnik (The Smart One and the Pretty One), had to say about The Secret of Joy: "The Secret of Joy is a warm hug of a book. Insightful, wise, and romantic, it's as inviting as the small-town life it depicts."
And the hilarious Caprice Crane, author of Stupid and Contagious and the upcoming Family Affair, said: "A wonderfully heartfelt story about hope, possibilities and the yearning for real connections. Senate's latest will take you on a much needed vacation, while sneaking vital life lessons in when you're not looking."
4 stars from Romantic Times Books Reviews magazine! "Senate’s page-turning comfort read is descriptive and contains a suitable mix of wit and romance. Her characters exemplify the universal need we all have to belong.”
One of my favorite reviews said: "The Secret of Joy is a beautifully written novel that will have the reader crying one moment and smiling with happiness the next all the while cheering for the many wonderful cast of characters. Senate weaves together many tales of love and in so doing discusses, through a brilliant array of characters, what it means to love and be loved. Senate's descriptive prose and realistic storyline make the reader feel a part of the small Maine community. The Secret of Joy drew me in from the prologue and I was sorry to see the story end. I cannot praise this novel enough and look forward to reading Senate's other novels." –Rundipinne
And this: "I loved loved loved this book. The story was captivating, the narration fresh, the characters fun. I flew through it. The characters were relatable, and the subplot was just as interesting and segued well into the ending for Rebecca and Joy. I don't think you can go wrong with Melissa Senate." –Bellas Novella
I can't wait to read all the reviews (with fingers crossed)!
One review I did very happily already read, because it's a site I visit every
day, is: S. Krishna's
blog. She is one my favorite and most trusted book reviewers and I often buy more books than i should after reading her reviews! i was thrilled to see a 4.75 rating and a rave review!
Here's a link to an indepth interview on the craft of writing and the meaning of life (sort of) with the talented poet and author Lori A. May
And a fun interview with Book End Babe
Malena Lott. You can read about how I almost made it on the Oprah
show when my first novel was published. So close!
I'm also on tour with the wonderful Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit, a group of authors who blog about new books, the writing life and everything you can think of. I'll post links to interviews as they go up, but here's one at Rita award-winning mystery author and Channel 7 TV news (Boston) producer Hank Phillippi Ryan's
THE SECRET OF JOY is also a Simon & Schuster Book Club Pick
! Get the Reading Group Guide, complete with suggestions for discussion questions and an interview with me here
Click here to read an excerpt
at the Simon & Schuster website!
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MARRYING
(Red Dress Ink, 6/08), is about very different twin sisters on a long and bumpy cross-country road trip from Maine to Las Vegas. Here's a peek at the back cover copy:
A NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE LISTS 15 QUESTIONS COUPLES SHOULD ASK BEFORE MARRYING
Ruby Miller and her fiance, Tom Truby, have questions 1-14 almost covered. It's question 15 that has the Maine school teacher stumped. Is their relationship strong enough to withstand challanges?
Challenges like . . . Ruby's twin sister Stella. The professional muse, flirt and face reader thinks Ruby is playing it safe. And that the future Mrs. Ruby Truby will die of bordeom before her first anniversary or her thirtieth birthday, whichever comes first.
And challenges like . . . sexy maverick teacher Nick McDermott, Ruby's secret longtime crush , who confesses his feelings for her at her own engagement party.
But before Ruby can plan the wedding that may never be, Stella announces she's pregnant by a one-night stand whose name might be Jake (or James? Maybe Jason?) and who lives somewhere under the glittering lights of Las Vegas. Ruby and Stella hit the road to find him–with a lot more than 15 questions.
And after three thousand miles, a stowaway relative and hitchhiking teen lovebirds bound for an Elvis wedding chapel, the Miller sisters might get some answers.
4 1/2 stars from RT magazine! And a 2008 nominee for Reviewer's Choice Award in the chick lit category.
Check out an excerpt
on Amazon (and hey, feel free to order it while you're there!)
LOVE YOU TO DEATH
(Red Dress Ink, 12/07)
Abby's worst ex-boyfriends are on someone's hit list. Friends, familiy, coworkers–and a hot Portland police detective–think that someone is Abby herself!
WHEN DID ABBY FOOTE'S LIFE BECOME AN EPISODE OF LAW & ORDER?
First, a former boyfriend (who dumped Abby in the most humiliating way imaginable) is found murdered the day his engagement is announced.
Then two other ex-boyfriends report attempts made on their lives right after breaking up with her. Coincidence? Detective Benjamin Orr, of the Portland Police Department (and Very Probing Questions and Incredibly Delicious Face), doesn't think so. Neither do Abby's friends, family, coworkers and other exes–who are suddenly shaking in their shoes.
Soon enough, everyone is sucking up to her as though the Abby they know and supposedly love to death is capable of posioninig their drinks….
Is someone trying to frame her? Who? And why? She has to find out fast. Because by-the-book Ben is bound to break her heart. Which makes him next on someone's list.
"Melissa Senate is definitely one of my favorite chick lit writers. Her books are funny and fast-paced and always make you feel good!"
"Readers will cheer Abby every step of the way as she fights to clear her name and find her prince for whom the glass slipper will finally fit."
4 stars says RT Bookclub magazine
Buy from Amazon
THE BREAKUP CLUB
(2006 Red Dress Ink)
Four coworkers at a New York City publishing house (a not-so-happily-married mom, her single sister, their goodlooking boss, and a runaway bride) reluctantly form a support group for the broken-hearted when they're assigned to work on a high-profile celebrity memoir about perfect love. "Senate's latest has her trademark quick pacing and sympathetic, loveable characters." –Booklist
(2006 Delacorte Press — Young Adult)
A teen-queen movie star's reputation is at an all-time low, so her agent sends her back to her hometown to film a reality TV show to prove she's just a regular American teen. She lives with a regular family and has to do everything sixteen-year-old Emily does, like actually care about everything. "Senate sets up a tantalizing plot, and the plot is equally entertaining." –Publishers Weekly
WHOSE WEDDING IS IT ANYWAY?
Eloise is offered a free $100,000 wedding by her employer, Wow Weddings magazine. Too bad she has no say in her own "ultra-modern" wedding . . . including the guest list, which suddenly includes her estranged family. "Senate creates multi-dimensional characters, an interesting plot, and some curious twists in this fast-paced spin-off to her international bestseller SEE JANE DATE." –RT Bookclub magazine
THE SOLOMON SISTERS WISE UP
Three very different sisters (one single and pregnant, one who catches her husband cheating, and one who can't commit to anyone) end up living in their father's apartment as he plans his wedding to a woman younger than all of them. "Senate scored high with See Jane Date and now she presents another winner that will have readers cheering for the warm, witty, and loveable Solomon sisters as they wise up, find love, and learn to love each other." –Booklist
SEE JANE DATE
To avoid a blind date, book editor Jane tells one tiny white lie about having a boyfriend . . . and then has to date every single guy in New York to find him. "Senate's prose is fresh and lively. See Jane Date retains its fizz to the end." –Boston Globe
SEE JANE DATE (DVD of TV MOVIE!)
SEE JANE DATE (THE MOVIE!) (2003)"Based on a novel by Melissa Senate, this made-for-cable romantic comedy stars Charisma Carpenter as Jane Grant, a New York bachelorette with a moderately successful job at a publishing company. At the behest of her Aunt Ina (Linda Dano), Jane must find a suitable date to escort her to her cousin's wedding in four weeks. Our heroine experiences a number of romantic misadventures with a steady parade of "Mr. Wrongs" (one of whom is played by Joe Millionaire's Evan Marriott) before hitting upon a man who might be "the One" — and then again, might not. Making Jane's task all the more difficult is the presence of her former high school nemesis Natasha Nutley (Holly Marie Combs), now a soap opera diva whose autobiography Jane has been assigned to edit." –New York Times
EVERYTHING I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME (May 2007, Pocket Books, Editor: Jennifer O'Connell) Essay: Me, the summer I turned twelve. Oy. Buy from Amazon
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIE: THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE IN YOUR TWENTIES (January 2007, Warner Books. Editor: Emily Franklin) Essay: Me, othe loss, in every possible way, of a great guy Buy from Amazon
FLIRTING WITH PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: FRESH PERSPECTIVES ON THE ORIGINAL CHICK LIT MASTERPIECE (2005, BenBella Books. Editor: Jennifer Crusie)Short Story: Charlotte as a 21st century woman making the same choice for the same reason. Buy from Amazon
AMERICAN GIRLS ABOUT TOWN (2004, POCKET BOOKS) Short Story Who's sending a recently-engaged woman voo-doo bride dolls with sharp pins and anonymous nasty notes about what her fiance is doing when she's not around? Buy from Amazon