Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher (2020)

Heat Factor: Not closed door, but nothing too racy

Character Chemistry: Adah and Beth are adorable together, in that grumpy/sunshine kind of way

Plot: Chefs at dueling restaurants start dating

Overall: I am charmed

Adah and Beth are both chefs, but they are chefs who have had dramatically different paths to leading the kitchens they work in – and they kind of resent each other for it. Adah went to culinary school because she could make more money as a certified chef than as a line cook; she now works for a restaurant group and has been tasked to be the executive chef at a new venture in a small Maine town. Needless to say, this is a really big professional opportunity for her. Beth did her free spirit thing for several years before taking over her family’s greasy spoon and making it her own and winning a bunch of awards in the process. Beth resents the fancy group of outsiders who just assume that they can waltz in and be successful, without any ties to the local community or its ethos. Adah resents that things come so easily to Beth, that she seems to get everything handed to her. (Of course, neither is exactly right in her estimation of the either – but neither is exactly wrong either.) 

I provide all this detail because I loved the chef dynamic in this book. Fisher provides a really nuanced take to chef culture that I haven’t seen all that much of in foodie romances. As a person who has consumed a good deal of chef-centered reality TV, I really appreciated this. 

Once they start getting couply, Beth and Adah are really adorable together. They cook together on their days off. They hang out with Adah’s son (who is neither extremely twee nor extremely troubled). They go to the beach. Neither has been focusing on taking care of herself, so the relationship really lets them be their best selves. 

A large part of their dynamic – and an impetus for some of the conflict – is that Beth is a talker and Adah is not. So Beth pushes for open and honest communication but this is HARD for Adah to do. Honest and open communication is hard to do period, so this was a nice dynamic to see. 

Their different backgrounds and perspectives about food is another source of conflict. Both Adah and Beth struggle with their work, and some of their respective struggles on the job bleed out into their relationship. Again, this might be because I love me some chef struggles, but I thought the fact that their work was really well integrated into the story – not just as the thing they do, but as a source of conflict between them – was nicely done. 

What can I say? I really enjoyed this one. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon

Looking for something similar?


Small towns!

That Grumpy / Sunshine Energy!

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