Recipe for Disaster by Tracy Solheim
Series: Men of the Secret Service #1
Published: May 7, 2018 by Tule Publishing
Genre: Suspense Romance
Secret Service Agent Griffin Keller always gets his man. And his woman. In pursuit of an international counterfeiter known only as “The Artist”, Griffin stumbles across paintings stolen from the White House and swapped with forgeries. His only clue to the thief’s identity–a dish towel from the White House kitchen.
White House pastry chef Marin Chevalier desperately needs a date to her cousin’s society wedding. Unfortunately, her busy schedule leaves her little opportunity to meet eligible men. When a sexy Secret Service agent shows up in her kitchen—and just about everywhere else she goes—Marin believes she’s finally met the perfect date. But when a series of frightening accidents and near misses plague her, Marin must rely on Griffin as more than just her “plus-one.”
As dead bodies begin to pile up around Marin, Griffin is convinced she’s the link to The Artist. Too bad the curvy chef has gotten under his skin like no other woman. When the clues finally fall into place and Griffin realizes Marin is not the suspect, but instead the target, he’ll risk everything in his arsenal to keep her safe.
While I enjoyed Recipe for Disaster I’m a little conflicted because there were parts that I really enjoyed and parts that I found frustrating. Overall, I thought it was a good suspense romance, although I found the bad guys to be a bit predictable and surprisingly incompetent. In some ways, they almost came across as comedic and this would pull me out of the suspense. Though I figured out who was involved pretty early on, I did not figure out completely what was going on, so there was plenty of surprises for me in the end. One of the things that I did enjoy, though others might be bothered by it, is the amount of detail that Tracy Solheim put into both Washington, DC and The White House. I don’t know how accurate everything was but I was very intrigued by all the descriptions of the offices, residence, and special rooms, so it kept things interesting.
That attention to detail also shows up in the character descriptions and I really feel like we got to know not just Marin and Griffin but all the other side characters as well. I particularly enjoyed the other Secret Service agents Ben and Adam who I assume will eventually get their own books. All the details for the characters were great, but I will admit there were a TON of characters and maybe too many to keep track of. This made following along harder as I struggled to keep everyone straight. One of my favorite characters, hands down, was Otto the Secret Service dog; I’m a sucker for animals in books and I really enjoyed Otto’s presence in the story. He really had his own personality and purpose and it was great.
“You enthralled me from the very beginning. Kissing you” — he leaned in closer so that his lips were hovering over hers — “kissing you, Marin Chevalier, was inevitable.”
When the book first started out I was leery of Griffin who came across a little like a dick and I don’t know that I ever completely warmed up to him though I did enjoy him more as we got to know him. The chemistry between Marin and Griffin was also questionable in the beginning; it was a classic case of Griffin being adverse to commitment and all of a sudden Marin was just perfect and things that would normally bother him about women, he didn’t mind when it was Marin. I sometimes find this to be a weak way of expressing romance and developing a relationship but I will say that their chemistry did grow as time went by. Griffin was the quintessential protector, the alpha hero, but he’s constantly surprised by his actions because he’s getting close to Marin for the job but he’s also really attracted to her. This conflict over Griffin’s duty vs his attraction meant that he would start things with Marin and then pull back suddenly and become distant.
Marin puts up with a surprising amount of push and pull in this book and this is reflected in her wildly varying moods as she goes from being excited to be around Griffin to ending up in tears or near it after almost every single encounter they have (mostly because he pulls back). While this got a bit trying after a while, I still liked Marin who in general is soft, gentle, and sweet. But she’s also pretty tough and she keeps things together when it counts. I think some readers might be annoyed by Marin’s overly emotional state but I didn’t see anything wrong with it because not every character can be as physically or mentally strong when it comes to being in danger. Marin has absolutely no experience with this type of lifestyle so it makes perfect sense that she would be on the verge of falling apart for most of the story; after all people she cares about are constantly dying around her and she has no idea what’s going on.
Overall, I thought the writing was a very strong, the characterization was incredibly detailed, if a bit overwhelming, and for the most part, the suspense was good though there were a few ridiculous moments. I am intrigued to read more in the series but I do hope that some of the issues I had with this book will not show up in the later ones.
**Reader Safety: Animal Injury
3 stars – it was good
ARC provided by NetGalley for honest review
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