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Reviewed by A.D. Cole
During the era of the Napoleonic Wars, Giselle Barrington lives an exotic life as the daughter to a story collector. She travels the world with her father and while he collects stories, she collects recipes. But due to his wide travels, Giselle’s father has taken up a side occupation: delivering intelligence to and from British contacts. Though Giselle aids her father’s efforts by hiding any correspondence in secret pockets in her petticoats, she knows nothing of the specifics of his tasks. Until the night she witnesses his murder.
Now, the men who killed her father are after Giselle. She flees back to England and takes a position as a cook in a house only a few doors down from her own. She takes on the persona of Madame Levéel, the french cook, but she doesn’t lay low very well. Unable to be satisfied with simply hiding, Giselle takes many risks in her search to find her father’s killer as well as the mysterious “D” to whom the letter is addressed. Her behavior arouses the suspicions of the already unpleasant butler, Mr. Edgars; as well as the handsome Lord Aldridge who, unbeknownst to Giselle, is actually helping in the effort to rescue her and recover her father’s letter.
Was it the most intricately plotted novel I’ve ever read? No. Was it a little hard to believe that despite all the evidence right in front of him, Jonathan still couldn’t discover the identity of his mystery cook? Yes. Did I find the anachronistic message of equal rights for women and servants a little misplaced and annoying? Indubitably. But who cares! Banquet of Lies was a fun romp and I found I couldn’t put it down. It was fast paced, with spunky characters, and a delicious dabbling of sexual tension between Jonathan and Giselle.
This novel is a combination of foodie fiction and Napoleonic spy novel. If you’re like me and can’t get enough of either, I’d give this one a shot. This was my introduction to Michelle Diener’s work and I’m definitely going to be reading more.
Check out some recipes from the book
A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Gallery Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.