Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Savory Pair - Fiction with a Foodie Twist!

As the coordinator of ACFW's weekly Featured Author Interview on Fiction Finder, I generally post the interviews but don't actually conduct them myself. However, a few weeks ago a schedule adjustment gave me the opportunity to interview Hillary Manton Lodge, a charming young author who quickly intrigued me. While her first two releases were Amish novels, Hillary has now found her niche and writes "Women's Fiction with a Foodie Twist." Shortly after that interview, I discovered that my daughter had bought the first book in Hillary's Two Blue Doors series with a Christmas gift card, although she didn't read it until she came home this month at the end of her semester. We both inhaled A Table by the Window and I immediately ordered Reservations for Two. Now we are eagerly awaiting the third book in the series, to be released next May.

A Table by the Window:
A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom Recipes

(Two Blue Doors)
Hillary Manton Lodge
(WaterBrook Multnomah)
ISBN: 978-0307731753
March 2014/320 pages/March 2014

Heirloom recipes, family secrets…and a chance for love

The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?

After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.

Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?

Read an excerpt.

Reservations for Two:
A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons

(Two Blue Doors, Book 2)
Hillary Manton Lodge
(WaterBrook Multnomah)
ISBN: 978-0307731777
May 2015/320 pages/$14.99

A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

Read an excerpt.


Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Reservations for Two, A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, and Simply Sara. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate Magazine. Her next novel, book three in the Two Blue Doors series, will release May 3rd, 2016 from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers.

Over the years, Hillary's novels have enjoyed critical success from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romantic Times. In 2010, Plain Jayne was nominated as a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara enjoyed a place as an ECPA Bestselling book. In 2015, A Table by the Window was shortlisted in the INSPY Awards.

In her free time, Hillary enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, attending indie concerts, and finding new walking trails. She and her husband make their home in Portland, Oregon, with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shiloh.

Read Hillary Manton Lodge's ACFW Featured Author Interview


I love discovering a new author whose fresh voice and writing style bring her books to life and Hillary Manton Lodge has quickly become an author to watch. The first novel in her Two Blue Doors series, A Table by the Window combines all the ingredients for a palatable read: engaging characters, a charming setting, crisp dialogue (including some laugh-out-loud moments!), and authentic issues. Toss in mouth-watering recipes at the end of each chapter, and the result will satisfy your mind and your stomach.

Reservations for Two picks up immediately where A Table by the Window ends, and I loved spending more time with Juliette as she helps her brother open his new restaurant. Like hidden spices in a dish, unexpected twists and turns give this novel a unique flavor, different from the first book, but every bit as tasty. As the story progressed, I felt Juliette's angst regarding her future and admired her honesty as she worked through her concerns. Once again, Hillary's writing style and talent for fast-paced and witty dialogue kept me turning pages and occasionally laughing out loud. My appetite is whetted for book 3, to be released in May 2016.


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