Zoe Harper has entered a MasterChef-style cooking competition. She hopes to win the prize money that will allow her to open her own deli. Smart, pretty, kind & helpful, Zoe is a delight. On her early arrival at the contest venue her helpfulness leads her to assist a grumpy motorist who has landed his car in a ditch. Gideon Irving is attractive in a non-obvious way, blunt, ungracious & one of the judges of the contest. Zoe & Gideon agree not to mention their accidental meeting but soon their mutual attraction means that their growing relationship becomes hard to disguise.
Zoe is sharing a room with another contestant, Cher, a really nasty young woman. Cher is a beautiful but brittle blonde, determined to win the contest by fair means or foul because she wants to be famous. She's not above flirting with the judges & sabotaging Zoe at every opportunity. Cher locks Zoe out of their room, hides her computer lead so she can't access her recipes & opens the window on a rainy day so Zoe's bed is soaked - all completely accidentally, of course.
Zoe's friendship with Fenella & Rupert, the owners of the country house where the contest is held, is another delightful subplot to the story. The fact that Gideon is staying with Fen & Rupert & every time Zoe can't sleep in her own bed, she ends up in Gideon's, softens the upset over Cher's vindictiveness. As the contest continues & one contestant is eliminated after every challenge, Zoe is kept on her toes . Several times she just scrapes through to the next round because of Cher's machinations or her own helpfulness - creating a stunning wedding cake at short notice for a friend of Fenella's & welcoming Rupert's vile parents to the house when Fenella goes into labour - which leaves her with little time to prepare for the next round of the contest. The final straw comes when Cher attempts to blackmail Zoe with photos of her & Gideon which would ruin his career & cause a scandal that would wreck the contest for everyone.
Recipe for Love is just as wonderful as all Katie's previous books. Funny, warm, romantic & with enough tension in the plotting that you wonder how Zoe will get through her latest entanglement. Gideon is a gorgeous hero, especially when he lulls Zoe to sleep by reading her Elizabeth David. The cooking aspect is also terrific. I love reading about food, especially the hearty good cooking that Zoe does so well. Fenella & Rupert are a lovely couple. I enjoyed their struggles with their half-renovated home & I think Rupert's bossy, domineering, tactless mother was my favourite character. I finished Recipe for Love with a contented sigh late on Sunday night, my e-reader problems forgotten. It was just what I needed.