Review by Darcie Czajkowski
From the outside, Abbey Ross appears to live a great life. Her bakery in Oakland, California is thriving, and she adores creating wedding cake masterpieces for her clients. Her large, boisterous family is loving and, even when they drive her crazy, she believes she has the best family in the world, thanks to her famous jazz musician father who makes it a priority to keep his family close.
But no one, except her best friend, Bendrix, knows how lonely Abbey is. Not even Abbey herself. Despite Bendrix’s insistence that Abbey needs to inject time and effort into her love life, Abbey refuses. Years ago, she learned that her fiancé, Avery Brooks, had cheated on her when a documentary on his life as a gifted artist – and art forger – revealed two affairs. Abbey was humiliated and never recovered from the betrayal.
Abbey doesn’t want to be alone forever, though, and eventually consents to Bendrix’s suggestion of online dating. The first man she communicates with and meets is Samuel, who is nearly perfect. They date for about a year before Samuel proposes. Abbey accepts because there is no doubt that Samuel loves her, despite her reservations.
But as the wedding approaches, Abbey begins to wonder if they can integrate into each other’s families. Samuel grew up in a household in which his parents were controlling, judgmental, and believed that locking him in a closet when he misbehaved was the best method to keeping him on the straight and narrow. Even now that Samuel is grown, his parents still have a hold on him, passing along their particular set of beliefs to Samuel, which in turn affects how he expects Abbey to behave as his future wife.
Moreover, while Samuel is willing to interact with Abbey’s family, it is clear that he will never truly fit in and understand the environment in which she grew up. Her loud, free-thinking, musically-inclined family, which includes Abbey’s father’s four ex-wives and one current one, four ex-girlfriends, and Abbey’s twelve siblings and all of their kids, is outside of his comfort zone.
Ultimately, Abbey and Samuel decide that their love for each overshadows their issues and they marry in a small, low-key ceremony. But a year into their marriage, when Abbey still isn’t pregnant and Samuel refuses to talk about adoption, Abbey begins to wonder if the love they have for each is enough to sustain them through these hard times. And if it’s not, whether or not she will be able to survive another break-up after the devastating end to her relationship with Avery.
Renee Swindle teaches lessons in life and love in A Pinch of Ooh La La. Imbued with laugh-out-loud humor and with a knack for smooth-flowing story-telling, Renee reminds us that finding a long-lasting, until-death-do-us-part romance isn’t easy and that happily-ever-afters are found in fairytales for a reason. In real life, people experience trials and tribulations, and sometimes there is no magic in the search for love. But along that bumpy road, we need to learn to be content with what we have and appreciate the wonderful things we do have in our lives. Even when some areas of our lives face struggles, there are always things in our lives to be thankful for, and remembering those things can give us the strength to fight for the rest.
So if you’re looking for a reminder that everything happens for a reason and to never give up when searching for what you want out of life, then check out Renee Swindle’s latest book. It’s a lyrical delight, whether or not you’re a jazz lover.
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About the Author:
Writing A PINCH OF OOH LA LA gave Renee an opportunity to write about two of her favorite things: baking and jazz. Since she’s an only child, she had a blast writing about Abbey’s large multi-racial family made up of musicians and artists. A PINCH OF OOH LA LA takes place in her beloved city of Oakland, CA.
Renee would rather hoard books than shoes and goes to movies for the popcorn as much as the film. She owns three rescue dogs that force her to walk every day, rain or shine. Along with world peace, she dreams of one day having her novels adapted to the big or small screen.
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