Monday, August 6, 2018

Release Day Reviews ~ The Missing Ingredient by Brian Lancaster

Release Day Review ~ The Missing Ingredient by Brian Lancaster

Title: The Missing Ingredient
Author: Brian Lancaster
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 211
It can take losing everything to realize what you had all along.

Up-and-coming London chef Marcus Vine is poised on the edge of success, but the only men courting him are investors. That leaves Marcus with some free time—which is fortunate, because his godchildren need him. 

A year ago, a horrible accident killed Marcus’s best friend, Raine, leaving her children without a mother and her husband, Tom, without a partner. Consumed by grief, Tom has been going it alone, refusing help, but when Marcus sees him out with the children, it’s obvious that Tom and his two daughters need someone. His persistent caring finally wears Tom down, allowing him to accept the comfort Marcus offers. Soon Marcus is up to his elbows in homework, home-cooked meals, and after-school activities. Over time he helps them rebuild their world, until soon their lives are approaching normal.
Then the unexpected happens: Tom confesses he has romantic feelings for Marcus, and nothing can ever be the same.

**Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by DreamSpinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.**

The Missing Ingredient is the first book I’ve read by Brian Lancaster. It’s a friends to lovers with a verrrrrry sloooooow burn. Seriously slow. For the most part, I really liked Marcus. Though he was a chef with multiple restaurants, we wasn’t a jerk. He was grieving the loss of his best friend and her family that he was asked to step away from after her death. He worked hard and when his best friend’s family came back into his life, he added them to his life easily, with no question. I wasn’t a fan of Tom and thought Marcus could do a lot better. Tom was a man in over his head with the death of his wife and really just seemed to be on the verge of drowning and losing his children. Though I could understand his grief, I thought he was selfish in allowing it to consume him to the detriment of his children. Fortunately, Marcus picks up the pieces and puts his life back together.

This story was fast paced and kept me engaged regardless of my feelings for Tom. There was no quick instalove story. Tom and Marcus spent time together with the kids. They became friends. Marcus’ old feelings for Tom came back and Tom found feelings of his own, much to his annoyance. The kids in the story were entertaining and not too involved. Though they were the reason Marcus and Tom are spending time together, it never felt like the story was all about taking care of the kids, or just about the kids. So, if having kids in the story bothers you, I think you’ll enjoy this story. It’s a nice mixture for whatever side of the fence you fall on.

This was a well-written story, with well-fleshed out main and supporting characters. For readers who enjoy friends to lovers, this is a must read story! I loved the epilogue and was completely taken by surprise by it. It really ended the story well and supported the HEA ending.

Rating: 4 stars

5 Stars

Total book hangover in progress here… What a touching, beautiful story. Tom was once married to Marcus’ best friend, Raine. Out and proud Marcus always had a thing for straight Tom, but kept it under wraps for over a decade. A year after Raine was killed in an auto accident, Tom and Marcus reconnect and sparks start to fly.

For some reason, I adore the gay-for-you trope and this one does not disappoint. In my opinion, the plot was both original and interesting with enough complexities to keep this from being a light and fluffy read, but it’s oh so heartwarming in the end. There were definitely times in this book I gasped, I cried, and I laughed out loud. I was so engaged, I barely put the book down, wanting to see how this all turned out for Marcus and Tom.

Having said that, Mr. Lancaster wrote some very compelling characters, in my opinion. Tom, the widower who was barely holding it together with his two young daughters. Marcus, their godfather, who was an up-and-coming chef/restaurateur. They seemed to be well-matched, though I really felt for Marcus since he’d always been attracted (both physically and emotionally) to Tom, but was constantly pushed away by him. The book even started on that note. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for their HEA, especially when Marcus finally turns the tables on Tom and they had a “Sleepless in Seattle”/”Notting Hill”-ish moment. To see, in the end, both of them face their demons and not lose that something special was extremely gratifying.

I’m hoping this is the start to a series - I’d love the opportunity to see more of Tom and Marcus (and their girls) and the other potential couples teased at the tail-end of this book.

If you’re looking for something heartwarming, a little angsty, but witty/funny, this is exactly what you’re looking for.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement.

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