The Ingredients of You and Me was my pandemic book. Before the pandemic officially began, I’d placed my pre-order and looked forward to receiving my copy the day it was released. Fast forward to April 28 and shipping was delayed and the world was a very different place.
By the time the book finally arrived, I’d already re-read Nina Bocci’s other entries in the Hopeless Romantics series, On the Corner of Love and Hate and Meet Me on Love Lane, and I was so ready for Parker and Nick’s story.
From the very first pages I knew I loved the story. Bocci has a knack for coming off the starting line strong, and for Parker Adams that meant selling her successful business and discovering that change meant a creativity block for the ages. Her decision to visit her friends in the idyllic town of Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, is more of a desperate attempt to reclaim her passion and figure out what Parker Phase Two looks like.
It also means going back to the small town where Nick Arthur lives, and that means walking headfirst into some uncomfortable truths as she learns that he has a girlfriend.
Needless to say, Parker’s story isn’t all sprinkles and spritz cookies but thankfully she has lots of friends around to help her rediscover her mojo and whip up some new recipes…but will Nick be in the mix?
Under normal circumstances (as in, not during a worldwide pandemic) I read books really fast. Too fast, really. I can devour a good book in a matter of hours, and while the pandemic provided me with more hours than I was used to, I decided to take my time with The Ingredients of You and Me.
The decision to read it slowly came on page 22, when Charlotte tells Parker she can take the 3pm bus from New York and make it to Hope Lake by dinner.
Hope Lake, you see, is a work of fiction. Nina Bocci dreamed up Hope Lake and I can imagine that she pulled in all of the small town elements she loves to create the picture perfect, Hallmark-Channel-movie-ready setting to deposit her characters and let them play.
The only way to get to Hope Lake is by car, and like a soap opera set in the 1950s, by bus.
There is something incredibly special about that.
Hope Lake is a place where time seems to stand still, so I wanted to read the book like a soap opera, with a little bit each day. (Sometimes I cheated and read a couple of chapters because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next)
I love the way Bocci allowed the story to unfold so organically. Both Parker and Nick had things that they needed to work out, and these things take time. You can’t rediscover yourself on a deadline. That never works.
Bocci’s world is one you want to jump into with both feet. The Golden Girls are delightful and I want my own group of Golden Girls to hang out with. I want to bake with Parker and have a reason to visit Charlotte’s flower shop every day. And don’t get me started on Henry’s bookstore….
The Ingredients of You and Me is a romance story for any time of the year. It will be a great beach read just as it’s the perfect book to read when you’re spending the weekend baking. It’s the kind of book you want to get lost in, and once you’re in it you won’t want to leave.