LAST CIRCLE OF LOVE by Lorna Landvik

From the publisher:

A funny, heartwarming story about a feisty group of women who shake, spice, and heat things up with a “recipe” book for romance, from the bestselling author of Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons.

Newly installed at All Souls Lutheran, Mallory “Pastor Pete” Peterson soon realizes that her church isn’t merely going through turbulent waters, but is a sinking ship. With the help of five loyal members of the Naomi Circle, the young, bold minister brainstorms fundraising ideas. They all agree that the usual recipe book won’t add much to the parish coffers, but maybe one with all the ingredients on how to heat up relationships rather than casseroles will…

Pastor Pete has her doubts about the project, but it turns out the group of postmenopausal women has a lot to say on the subject of romance. While Charlene, the youngest member at fifty-two, struggles with the assignment, baker-extraordinaire Marlys, elegantly bohemian Bunny, I’m-always-right Velda, and ebullient Edie take up their contributions enthusiastically. After all, their book is really about cooking up love in all its forms.

But not everyone in the congregation is on board with this “scandalous” project. As the voices of opposition grow louder, Pastor Pete and these intrepid women will have to decide how hard they’re willing to fight for this book and the powerful stories within―stories of discovery, softened hearts, and changed lives.

A women’s group at a struggling church is at the heart of this new novel from Landvik (Chronicles of a Radical Hag, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons.) Set in a small town with two competing churches, All Souls has a newish, young pastor but a declining population, while the newer, richer church across town is thriving. Pastor Pete has a young child, but luckily, her husband is a stay-at-home parent so she can spend more time caring for her flock. Determined to raise needed funds, the women ditch their usual bake sale and cookbook fundraiser for a try at a book they are tentatively calling, “The ABC’s of Erotica.” Each woman will contribute, along with anyone else they can wrangle into helping. The entries have more of a sweet romance tilt and a distinct lack of erotica, but the name alone gets people talking. Landvik usually excels at creating novels with quirky characters and small-town charm, but there are so many characters and subplots here that the charm gets short shrift. 

Verdict: Church-goers will recognize these characters and feel at home here. Should delight Fannie Flagg or Debbie Macomber fans.

©Library Journal, 2022

12/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LAST CIRCLE OF LOVE by Lorna Landvik. Lake Union Publishing (December 6, 2022). ISBN: 978-1662506260. 288p.




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