By: Sherry Thomas

Series: The Marsdens

Book Number: 1

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Verity Durant is well-known in both Paris and London for her delectable cuisine, but in England she gained a wicked reputation after engaging in an affair with her employer, Bertie Somerset. Years ago, Bertie broke her heart, so she devised a scheme to get revenge by seducing his half-brother, Stuart. After meeting Stuart, she couldn't go through with it, but when he followed her back to the inn where she was staying, she could no longer resist. They shared a passionate night that she's never forgotten, after which he proposed, but when morning dawned, she disappeared without a trace, not wanting to compromise his promising political career. Despite her bad blood with Bertie, Verity stayed on as the cook at his country estate for personal reasons. When Bertie dies unexpectedly and Stuart inherits, it means that she'll finally be able to see her lover again, but not feeling quite ready, she avoids him. However, when he catches her in his bath, it leads to a seductive dance that makes them fall in love all over again. But if Stuart learns of her deception or the secret she's been keeping for years, will he be able to forgive her?

Stuart Somerset is the illegitimate second son of an aristocrat who acknowledged him. As children, he and Bertie were best friends, but by their teen years, Bertie had become jealous of the attention their father paid to Stuart, which led to a falling out. They hadn't spoken for a decade when Stuart receives word of Bertie's untimely passing. He inherits everything, including Bertie's famous cook. Stuart has always thought of food as something necessary for survival, but one taste of Verity's cuisine is a sensuous experience the likes of which he hasn't felt since that one night with the woman he thinks of as his Cinderella, the woman he's never been able to forget. He feels inexplicably drawn to Verity and the mystery of who this reclusive woman is. When Stuart catches her in his bath, it's the start of a passionate encounter that's very reminiscent of his Cinderella. But when he learns the truth of her identity, he cannot understand why she kept herself from him for so long. Not to mention, Stuart has only recently become engaged to a woman who is a friend and who would make a great partner in his future political ambitions, while a relationship with Verity could derail his plans if the truth of her past were ever to come to light.


Delicious is the first book of Sherry Thomas's Marsden duology and the first that I've read by her. Verity is a cook, well-known in both Paris and London for her delectable cuisine that is like a seductive experience for the taste buds, but after engaging in an affair with her employer, Bertie, she also has a wicked reputation. After Bertie broke her heart, she contrived a scheme to get back at him by seducing his half-brother, Stuart, a London barrister with a promising future as an MP. Ultimately, though, she couldn't go through with it after Stuart showed her unexpected kindness, but when he tracked her down later, they shared a passionate night, after which he impulsively proposed. However, Verity never shared her true identity with Stuart, and worried of what he might think if she did and also not wanting to ruin his career ambitions with a scandalous marriage, she left without a word the next morning. Neither Stuart nor Verity has been able to forget that night and both have remained true to the memory, keeping a thread of hope alive. Ten years have gone by since, and after Bertie dies unexpectedly, Stuart inherits everything, including his famous cook. Not yet ready to reveal herself to Stuart, she communicates only through notes and her scrumptious food, but even without knowing that his new cook is the one woman he's never been able to forget, Stuart feels inexplicably drawn to her. When he catches her in his bath, it leads to a seductive dance that makes them fall in love all over again, but when Stuart finally learns the truth, he might not forgive Verity for the deception. Not to mention, he's just become engaged to another woman, and even without that complication, his career ambitions could be over if he were to marry a woman viewed to be of low station and morals.

Verity's parents died when she was young so she went to live with an aunt and uncle. She was born into the aristocracy, but after a youthful love affair with someone deemed unsuitable, she was disowned. After her first love died, she had no other choice but to remake herself the best she could. Training under a famous Parisian chef, she became a renowned cook whose services were contracted by Bertie. While in his employ, they became lovers and he even mentioned the possibility of marriage, but ultimately he proved unworthy and broke her heart. This led to her scheme involving Bertie's half-brother, Stuart, that she couldn't go through with. However, when Stuart followed her back to her lodgings, she couldn't help herself anymore. Their passionate night was unforgettable, but one that she knew couldn't be repeated if Stuart was to maintain his future path toward becoming an MP and possibly, one day, prime minister. So she stole away and hasn't seen him again in the ten years since, until he inherits following Bertie's death. After Verity spots Stuart again from afar, hope is reignited, but she still isn't sure if it's a good idea to get involved with him, which is why she keeps their interactions clandestine. Even though he doesn't know her true identity, they begin to fall in love again, but when he figures out the truth, he's angry enough to make Verity think that it's over for good this time. And even if he can forgive her, there are still many obstacles in the way of their potential happiness. I enjoyed Verity's uniqueness as a heroine, a woman who fell from grace and had to make her own way in the world. Her story highlighted the limited choices for women of the Victorian era, but she showed strength, doing the best she could with the resources available to her. I understood her decision to leave Stuart the first time, and to some extent her reasons for staying in the shadows once they were reunited, even though I felt perhaps it was drug out just a bit too long. Overall, I liked her, though, and thought she was a strong woman to have remade herself the way she did.

Stuart is the illegitimate second son of an aristocrat who did eventually acknowledge him. Stuart and Bertie were very close growing up, but by the time they were young men, bad blood had taken root between them. Bertie became jealous of the attention Stuart received from their father, so they hadn't spoken in over a decade when Stuart received news of Bertie's passing and his inheritance of Bertie's estate. Ten years earlier, Stuart had met a woman whom he'd dubbed Cinderella since he never knew her real name. Their one night together had a profound effect on him, so much so that he proposed marriage on the spot, but she disappeared without a trace. Stuart has never forgotten their time together and had hoped that he might one day find her, but when that seemed unlikely, he became engaged to Lizzy, a woman he doesn't genuinely love but who's become a good friend. Stuart has heard all about Bertie's scandalous cook and is immediately taken with her food, as well as the mystery of who she is. But it isn't until he finds her in his bathtub, pleasuring herself, that he can't seem to stop thinking of her. They share a few more encounters with her still shrouding her identity, but eventually he puts the pieces together to realize that this woman is his Cinderella. Stuart can't help being angry with her for concealing herself for so long, not to mention there are many complications, including his engagement and his political position that could make it all but impossible for them to be together. Stuart gives off a somewhat geeky, beta hero vibe that I enjoyed. He's very much wrapped up in the law and politics to the exclusion of most other things, including relationships. In fact, he's mainly marrying Lizzy because, in order to rise through the political ranks, he'll need a respectable wife. Although not exactly sexually inexperienced, that sort of intimacy is something he's rather indifferent about until Verity knocks his socks off. Then he's remained celibate for the past decade so as to not sully what they'd shared. Stuart is definitely a little different than the average romance hero, but I really liked his uniqueness to the genre.

Delicious offers up a two-for-one on the romantic pairings with a secondary relationship between two supporting characters that has an enemies-to-lovers theme. Although she admits to having been shallow at times, Lizzy isn't a bad person, so I didn't necessarily want to see her out in the cold, so to speak. As the story opens, she isn't very fond of Stuart's secretary, Will, but as he helps her with her wedding planning, they get to know one another. Will isn't too certain that Lizzy is the right match for Stuart, but that could be because he's starting to feel something for her himself. Both of them have pretty big secrets in their pasts, which they, in the beginning, hold over the other's head, but instead decide to be friends and keep each other's confidences. I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between these two, and their use of "music halls" vs. "symphonic concerts" to discretely discuss a particularly sensitive subject was very amusing. I adored Will for being so supportive of his brother at a great personal cost, and Lizzy showed that she could be far more than a mere superficial socialite.

As my first Sherry Thomas book, I went into reading Delicious not really knowing what to expect. I'd heard some good things about her years ago, when I was more active in romance discussion groups, but I noticed that this book had a lower rating than most of her others on GoodReads. Not having read any reviews yet, I'm not really sure what others found to criticize, but I personally enjoyed it quite a bit, enough to give it keeper status. It can be difficult to find originality in the romance genre, but I feel like the author definitely achieved that in this story. One such singular element was Verity's cooking skills that result in creations that make eating a veritable spiritual experience, lending the story a touch of magical realism. There are some familiar romance themes present, but overall, Verity and Stuart are unique characters in equally unique circumstances that I found refreshing. They were completely taken with each other at their first meeting, and I found them both remaining faithful to one another since that single night together romantic. I think they understand and respect each other in ways that others don't. As I mentioned, perhaps Verity concealing her identity went on a tad long, but I can't deny that it added an alluring aura of mystery to their relationship. The main thing that I thought could have been a bit better is if the love scenes had been more descriptive. There's definitely a seductive air to it all that would have lent itself well to slightly steamier writing, but instead, the author sometimes merely skims over the details. I really like Sherry Thomas's writing style in general, though, that I thought was somewhat reminiscent of Mary Balogh's. There's a poetic feel to her prose that really drew me in, while there's a certain subtlety to the romance that's a little different than the way most others write but no less engaging. I also enjoyed the fairy tale quality of the story itself. It's clearly patterned after Cinderella, and while it takes a unique approach, in the end, it's very much all about true love winning the day. All these elements made this first foray into Sherry Thomas's work a very satisfying one that has left me looking forward to reading the second book, Not Quite a Husband, soon, as well as checking out her back list.


Sherry Thomas


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