Reginald Mason is wealthy, refined, and a gentleman. However, he is not a gentleman by birth, a factor that pains him and his father, Bernard Mason in Mary Balogh’s A Matter of Class. An opportunity for social advancement arises in the person of Lady Annabelle Ashton, daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family. Annabelle finds herself disgraced by a scandal and her father is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone willing to have her. By Balogh’s standards this is a quick read but it has all the elements found in her lengthier novels. I can always count on her to deliver a story full of dark secrets, deception, and the trials of love, all with a happy ending.
The Cookbook Collector, Allegra Goodman’s fourth novel, centers on two radically different sisters: the older, 28-year-old Emily Bach, is more practical, the CEO of a major Silicon Valley startup company. She keeps delaying her marriage to hyper-ambitious and competitive Jonathan Tilghman, who has his own firm on the East Coast. At twenty-three, her sister Jess is an optimistic, open-minded philosophy student who values knowledge over money and “would rather be well than do well.” She is drawn to unpromising relationships and passionate causes like Save the Trees, and works part-time in an antiquarian bookstore.
The story interweaves multiple plotlines that unfold simultaneously in California and Boston over the course of three years. The first half of the book moved too slowly for me with lots of details about Emily’s business. Things picked up when the focus became the acquisition of the cookbook collection by Jess’s boss, owner of the bookstore.