About the Book:
Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.
Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.
Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?
This book drew me in and was enjoyable in so many ways! First, let me just say that I am not a foodie. Unlike other books I've read that are heavily centered around food, I did not feel lost (or bored) with all of the "food talk" in this book. Rather, I felt included as though I was one of the guests sitting around the Saturday Night Supper Club table enjoying the sumptuous food and casual conversations. Food draws us together and I felt Laureano did a fantastic job at showcasing this throughout the story- three friends indulging on sweets and sharing "girl time", two people's first, tentative steps into love as Alex cooks dinner for Rachel sharing part of his family's heritage with the dishes he selects just for her, and of course the new connections made between complete strangers as they sit down to an exclusive meal and share conversation. Rachel's struggles to shed her view that she needed to prove herself and maintain perfection to discovering not only that God loves her just the way she is but also that He has a specific plan for her was a journey I enjoyed sharing. And, lastly, I of course must address the romance between Alex and Rachel. I loved how Laureano brought these two people together under a very stressful and strained situation which one would expect to end very, very poorly. Instead, the mutual attraction they immediately felt was explored and nurtured into a sigh-worthy romance built on respect, trust, and love.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A review was not required but was voluntary and contains my own thoughts and opinions regarding this literary work.
Like to learn more about the development of The Saturday Night Supper Club? Enjoy the author interview below provided by Tyndale!
Interview with the Author: Carla Laureano
1. What inspired you to write The Saturday Night Supper Club?
I knew from the start that I wanted to write a book about three friends who started a Supper Club in my hometown of Denver, and the title came almost immediately. Some of the other elements, like the double-edged nature of social media and the challenges of women in business, came from the media I was consuming at the time. I'd been reading acclaimed chef Dominique Crenn's interviews about gender bias in the food industry, and I'd followed both Gamergate and the 2015 Hugo Awards controversies from a distance. Everyone was taking very strong stances on one side or the other, but what about those who fell somewhere in the middle? Women who want to be acknowledged for their talents and not for their gender, but don't want to be outspoken feminist crusaders? Artists who want to be free to create their work without it having to make a cultural statement? There are a lot of serious issues that play into the book's plot, but I was conscious of not making it into an "issue book". At its heart, I wanted The Saturday Night Supper Club to be a realistic look at what it means to be a modern Christian woman pursuing both love and career, with all the joy and heartache that entails.
2. How do you expect the novel to resonate with your audience? What are you most excited for your readers to experience through reading this story?
Anyone who likes food is going to find a lot to love in The Saturday Night Supper Club. Denver has such a unique feel and a particularly distinct food scene, and I'm excited for my audience to experience my home city like I do. More importantly, I've always had an affinity for "food people"--I've found that my professional cook friends and acquaintances definitely have artistic temperaments, much like writers. People in both professions tend to be driven, dedicated, and more than a little neurotic... which means that Rachel as a chef and Alex as a writer have much more in common that it might seem at first. I think readers will love seeing behind the scenes of their worlds, which are both far more interesting and far less glamorous than they seem from the outside.
3. What role does faith play in this story?
The faith element in this story is subtle but particularly meaningful to me. Rachel's past experiences have damaged her view of God (and men) and left her with deep scars. In the end, the story is really about how God uses circumstances to guide her back to Him, even while she thinks she's having to go it alone. It's taken me decades to fully understand how God has been present in my own life; only now with the benefit of hindsight do I see how He was working all things for my good.
4. What lessons or truths do you hope people take away from The Saturday Night Supper Club?
I hope they realize that small heartfelt offerings, like cooking a meal for a friend, are just as important as grand gestures. I hope they are inspired to build strong friendships like the one Rachel has with Ana and Melody; in my opinion, they are an absolute necessity to buffer us from the hardships of modern life. And most of all, I hope readers realize that however distant they might feel from God, it's never too late to come back to Him.
5. As an author, what did you particularly enjoy about writing this story?
I'm both a food and a research fiend, so getting to delve into cheffy topics and call it work was pretty much a dream come true. It was also a lot of fun to look into Denver's Russian community for Alex's Russian-American background. Not a lot of the material made it into the final book, but it adds an interesting dimension to an already interesting hero. And honestly, I had a lot of "happy sigh" moments writing Rachel and Alex's romance. I'm not sure I've ever written a character I wanted more to earn her happily ever after.
6. The story speaks a lot about the friendship of main character, Rachel Bishop, and her two friends Analyn Sanchez and Melody Johansson. Can you tell us your inspiration for this circle of friends, and why you added this dynamic to the story? Which of the three characters can you relate to most and why?
When I started pursuing publication in the Christian market in 2012, I knew almost no one who wrote Christian fiction. I was fortunate enough to meet two fellow Colorado writers, who have since become incredibly important in my life. I've experienced a lot of ups and downs in my publishing career so far, and I can honestly say I wouldn't have kept going if it weren't for their support and encouragement. So this series is my homage to the power of those strong, encouraging female friendships. I relate to all of the characters in some fashion, but personality-wise, I'm most like Ana. In our little trio, I'm definitely the one who dishes out tough love and fixes problems. Then again, I'm also the serious cook of our three as well.
7. This story holds a great example of the power of social media in our culture today. How do you hope this influences readers?
Rachel loses her dream restaurant because of social media bullying and the online mob mentality, but it also becomes an instrument of her redemption as Alex uses it to write a new and kinder narrative. I hope that readers are reminded that virtual actions have real-life repercussions, and that there are actual people on the other end of the computer. Everything we read, particularly on social media, has a slant. It's our responsibility as decent human beings, but particularly as Christians, to find out the truth before we judge and share.
8. The Saturday Night Supper Club is the debut novel in a new, three book series. Can you give readers a taste of what to expect in the novels to come?
Melody and Ana will get their chance at love and pursue new career avenues, beginning with Melody in book two, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe. We'll also see a lot more of Rachel and Alex as the series goes on. Plus food. Lots of delicious food... It's probably a good idea not to read any of these hungry!
Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night. Connect with Carla online at her website www.carlalaureano.com.
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