Lottie's top tips for dating:
1. Ignore all advances from inappropriate men. Celebrity chef and notorious heartbreaker Rob Beresford can certainly flirt, but that doesn't mean his intentions are honourable!
2. Keep your cool. Rob is not a safe bet, so don't let him see that he gets you hot under your apron!
3. If 1) and 2) fail, indulge in a wild fling with said inappropriate man. Because remember, wild nights with no strings attached are this man's specialty!
But Lottie is about to discover that Rob has a few secret ingredients to add to the mix, which could make her throw her tips out the window forever!
I've already raved about how Nina Harrington applied tea to difficult circumstances throughout Trouble on Her Doorstep, so when Dee's business partner Lottie clashed with Sean's brother Rob, I was pretty psyched.
And boy was I right...
The key to The Secret Ingredient are the characters. Rob is fiery and famous and startlingly protective of his delicate, artistic mother, so when Lottie helps him out, looking after Adele and offering her a haven when she needs it. And for that, Rob can't help but be reluctantly grateful. But when it's clear that they're both attracted to each other, Lottie may have to put her search for The One on hold, as he's allergic to Happy Ever Afters...
Though the romance is the driving force of the narrative, it's the way that Harrington deals with Adele Forrester's depression that truly lifts this into brilliance.
The issue is, that Adele's depression and episodes are increasingly difficult for Rob to process and deal with. As a result, there was a danger that she could become a cloying presence that readers have very little time for. Instead, we empathise with her and Rob, captivated by her good nature and her interactions with Lottie.
Far too often, in popular culture, those with mental instability demonised or ridiculed. Depression is not something to dismiss or joke about, and it is wonderful to read a book where the response is not just "they're putting it on".
Mills & Boon boy Anthony seemed just as impressed... :P