Friday Reviews: Samuel, O’Neal, Samuel

FRIDAY BOOK REVIEWS

 It’s a feast for Barbara Samuel fans today at Writing Sluts. Besides using her own name, Barbara also writes as Barbara O’Neal and is well-known to and much-loved by category romance readers as Ruth Wind. Hope you enjoy! ~ Robyn Daniels

No Place Like Home

Barbara Samuel

****

There is a lush lyrical beauty to this book about Jewel Sabatino, a displaced Pueblo, Colorado native. She’s been away twenty-five years and now hungers to return to her Italian roots. It helps an aunt left her a house when she became homeless. Jewel returns with her seventeen-year-old son, Shane, and her best friend, Michael, dying from AIDS. She needs to get past the long estrangement from her father. Michael needs to connect with his brother, Malachi, while there is time. Jewel is taken with the motorcycle man when he arrives.

Her colorful characters are well written with depth. The importance of family and mending fences resonates in this book. The chicken wing and apple pie recipes are worth buying the book.

You will cry especially if the author touches on one of your hot button issues. If you sense your reading slowing, you will be like many readers who don’t want to leave these wonderful characters.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness

Barbara O’Neal

****

With a wonderful voice, a mastery of prose and a variety of interests, Barbara writes compelling characters. It is hard not to become invested in those characters’ choices and ponder their outcome. Her mastery of foreshadowing amazes. Reading Barbara is like watching an epic motion picture. For the Southwest recipes alone, buy the book.

Elena Alvarez sees the world through a chef’s senses. Her favorite memories are tied to food. Often the reader feels immersed in the chef’s kitchen, which is a predominantly male environment. Elena gets a shot to become a chef but must work with the last chef now demoted to sous chef. The man has his demons of alcohol and a dark past. Elena has hers–lack of certainty, a tendency to self sabotage, survivor’s guilt, and a battered body ill suited to Aspen, Colorado’s cold climate.

In a pleasant turn her scarred body has not slowed her healthy sex life. Yet real intimacy is impossible for her. She is attracted to the restaurant owner but feels unworthy. Her dog, Alvin, helps her win over his fourteen-year-old troubled daughter. Alvin’s daily walks serve to keep Elena’s body moving. There are ghosts, insights into other cultures, fun, and conflict to spare. Read on.

The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue

Barbara Samuel

***

A realistic book of marital infidelity when one yanks off the Bandaid. Barbara guides the reader with good characters, a feast for the senses, and the skill of a master writer. She captures the feelings of being an empty nester in lyric prose. These neighbors—Trudy Marino, the wronged wife. Roberta, an elderly Black woman newly widowed. Jade, her granddaughter who arrives newly divorced from Dante, an incarcerated charmer, user, and loser. The man just has not grown up, yet. Add Shanelle, who has worked her way up from white trash to a home, blue collar husband, and two boys. Her husband doesn’t want her to write. Finally, there is Angel, a visitor from Spain who restores Trudy’s confidence and leaves her with a wonderful souvenir. Of course, the book has a ghost.

Samuel covered an array of current topics from poor health insurance to how men show their emotions. She is truly gifted.

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5 thoughts on “Friday Reviews: Samuel, O’Neal, Samuel

  1. Happy to see you here, Mary and Angela. My all-time favorite is an old one, IN THE MIDNIGHT RAIN written as Ruth Wind. Her writing has matured since then, but it’s a small town, the South, the blues, and Bue Reynard, who can still make me sigh just thinking of him . . .

  2. Welcome, Robyn. I started out a fan of Ruth Wind and moved to Barbara Samuel when I learned she wrote under anothe name. Thanks for letting me know about her women’s fiction. I KNOW I’m going to love those books also.

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