Book Review: The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Vérant

Posted December 8, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 43 Comments

The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Samantha Vérant
Publication Date December 6, 2022
Published by Penguin
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Genres: Fiction / Magical Realism, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Women
Pages: 352
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

A talented chef discovers how spices and scents can transport her—and, more importantly, how self-confidence can unlock the greatest magic of all: love—in this perfectly seasoned new novel by Samantha Vérant.

Kate Jenkins doesn’t believe in fate. She believes in a clear vision, meticulous planning, and hard work in order to achieve her culinary dreams. On the cusp of opening her own Parisian restaurant, Bistro Exotique, she isn’t even concerned when her standoffish—and annoyingly sexy—neighbor dismisses her as a crazy American tourist or when she meets the wildly eccentric Garrance, the self-proclaimed Spice Master of Paris, who ominously warns her of the previous owner’s failures.

Confident and optimistic, Kate keeps calm and cooks on. Until a series of unfortunate events derail her plans and her entire staff quits.
Kate is about to throw in the kitchen towel on her lifelong dream when Garrance offers to use her mastery of scents and spices to help her, but it comes at a price: Kate must work with Garrance’s son, Charles, a world-class chef and total jerk. After Kate hesitantly concedes to the deal, she slowly learns to open her heart and mind to new concepts, not quite sure if the magic she’s experiencing comes from Garrance’s spices, from within herself, or from the growing chemistry with Charles. One thing is certain, though: her kitchen is getting increasingly hot.

The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Vérant is an enemies-to-lovers romance that transported me to Paris where I found beautiful ingredients and lovely food.  This book gave me serious food cravings as well as strengthened my desire to go to live in Paris.  

Story Recap: 

Kate Jenkins has always dreamed of opening a restaurant in Paris.  But, Kate is not a dreamer, she believes in hard work and a solid plan.  Now, she’s on the verge of opening her restaurant after years of hard work and planning in a premium spot in Paris.  Nothing will stop her success, not even the handsome man next door who thinks she’s a crazy American or his mother, Garrance, the self-proclaimed Spice Master of Paris, who ominously warns her of the previous owner’s failures.  

When a series of events leads Kate to believe she might be cursed, after most of her staff quit, her neighbor, Garrance offers up her mastery of scents and spices.  The only catch is that Kate must work with her son, Charles, the man she just can’t get along with.  But, eventually working Charles ends up being less of a chore and more of a friendship.  

My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed this enemies-to-lovers romance.  First, I loved the setting.  It’s clear that the author knows and loves Paris.  Her descriptions of the farmer’s markets and the city were beautiful.  Second, I love all the food and descriptions of the food.  This book should come with a warning, “Will Cause Serious Food Cravings”.  

The characters were well-developed and sympathetic.  First are the meddling mothers and they were both a delight!  It’s obvious they love their children and only want the best for them, but I’ll admit, they are a bit meddlesome, which makes for a great story.  Kate is a bit serious, but once she opens up and lets her guard down and we could see her vulnerability as well as her humor, I grew to like her very much and wanted her restaurant to succeed.  And Charles was a bit snooty at first, but he has a great sense of humor and I learned to love him as well.  


I highly recommend The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique to anyone who enjoys romance.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Samantha Vérant

Samantha Vérant is a travel addict, a self-professed oenophile, and a determined, if occasionally unconventional, at home French chef. She lives in southwestern France, where she's married to a sexy French rocket scientist she met in 1989 (but ignored for twenty years), a stepmom to two incredible kids, and the adoptive mother to a ridiculously adorable French cat. When she’s not trekking from Provence to the Pyrénées or embracing her inner Julia Child, Sam is making her best effort to relearn those dreaded conjugations.

Have you read The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique?

43 responses to “Book Review: The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Vérant

  1. I think I’m developing a soft spot for meddling older generation after reading it in quite a few contemporary romance and romcoms this year. This sounds so delicious.

  2. This might be the only way I get to Paris, armchair travel in wonderful books. I love a good enemies to lover book. Wonderful review, Wendy.

  3. Janette

    I’ve never heard of this one but a Parisian setting is always going to appeal to me so I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  4. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    Enemies-to-lovers is such a good trope! Glad it worked well in this book.