A Taste of Sage is the hopeful romance novel we all need right now

A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers
A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers /

Yaffa S. Santos combines food and romance to create a captivating story filled with lessons, love, and trust. And then there’s the twist.

Admittedly, romance is not my go-to genre when I’m searching for a book. But as a former student of food, and having graduated with a lifelong appreciation for it as a result, the possibility of a narrative revolving around potential romance in the culinary scene sold me before I even started reading. And I was not disappointed.

There are a lot of romance titles out there, but it’s the most creative of the bunch that stand out. Santos’ story could have been a simple will they/won’t they between an infamous restaurant owner and his sous-chef.

But instead, as a writer, she did what all good chefs do: She took an otherwise simple, generic recipe, added a surprise ingredient, and created something completely new.

Lumi and Julien work on two opposite ends of the culinary spectrum. Julien’s three-star restaurant is always filled to capacity and never fails to serve its promised traditional French cuisine. Lumi prefers to operate her establishment a little differently, serving what she’s in the mood to cook to a small crowd that simply can’t get enough of her creative offerings.

Her passion for fusion Dominican cuisine isn’t enough to sustain a New York City restaurant, however. She soon finds herself working as a sous-chef in the kitchen of Julien Dax, who allows no creative freedom among his staff whatsoever.

The longer Lumi works under his command, however, the more relaxed his culinary restrictions become … and the more the two chefs gravitate toward one another. But that’s only one layer of the story.

It turns out Lumi’s emotional connection to food goes beyond the typical reaction to a delicious meal. And it could end up causing her more pain than pleasure if she isn’t careful.

On a deeper level, this story offers a unique commentary on the important role food plays in  our everyday lives. We often turn to food when we have a reason to celebrate, as well as when we find ourselves with a reason to grieve.

Sometimes, when the overwhelming sights, smells, and flavors of food become too much to bear, we turn away from them — the familiar human source of comfort becomes a burden instead of a delight.

But it’s the people we experience food with in all its stages of preparation that create the memories we hold with us for many years. Some of these memories are worth forgetting. But many of them are worth saving.

The only thing I’ll spoil in this review is that you’ll make it to the last page feeling hopeful — something we all need right now. Not all happy endings are as predictable as you might think. Sometimes it takes some sharp twists and turns before two people can find a way to prove to themselves they belong together.

As an added bonus, if you like recipes and have been looking for more things to cook at home, there are at least a dozen of them sprinkled throughout this book between various chapters.

If you’re in the mood for a good love story that also leaves you craving delicious food with the turn of almost every page, this is definitely the book for you.

Next. The Imperfects will remind you to never give up on family. dark

A Taste of Sage is available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats starting on May 19.