Title: Banquet of Lies
Author: Michelle Diener
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: 4 Stars
A Secret Treaty and a Secret Life
LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living a double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher. She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.
Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies. In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master.
Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire. Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is—and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible. -Goodreads
Banquet of Lies is a delightful read, but not for all the obvious reasons. The things that make this such an enjoyable foray into fiction, are not the obvious intrigue and cloak and dagger spy play. While those aspects are important as plot drivers and an overall "raison d'etre", it is the interpersonal relationships between characters that makes this story delectable.
Though this character begins life as a ruse for Giselle, her crisp demeanor, eye for detail, and love of cooking soon give her a life if her own. Giselle spends so much time in character as Madame Leveel, that one tends to think of her as such until something in the story proves otherwise.
She is a loveable and quite resourceful young woman who, as it turns out, proves herself to be better at subterfuge than any of her male counterparts. She would have been such an asset to her father if he had only let her in on a few things.
She is a character that one can't help rooting for, but at the same time one can't help fearing for her safety and her heart.
Herein lies the fun and romantic side of this book. He is so taken by the new cook that class and status be damned. He must find out who she is and protect her at all costs! Need I say more?
The staff of Lord Aldrige's kitchens made for great reading. The butler and all of his scheming, lying and plotting is someone truly vile.
The Final Say
This is a wonderful story for those who want a character driven tale. The cat and mouse surrounding The Crown, letters, and the death of Giselle's father tends to muddy the waters a bit, but the romance banter food and fun more than makes up for that.
Just a side note...
It is advisable that anyone considering this book should eat before or while reading. The descriptions of food courses prepared will otherwise lead to chewing on furniture.