Sweet and Spicy

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This contemporary version of Shakespeare's tragedy of star-crossed lovers takes a slightly different stance. Far from being strangers to each other, this boy and this girl have been bitter enemies for most of their lives. Larissa Ramirez is still nursing a childhood grudge from a nasty dare posed to her by Pedro Molina. But the rivalry actually spans four generations because of a fabulous recipe between the families that was sold without permission by a Molina ancestor.

The recent death of her grandmother has left Lari raw and tender, unwilling to put up with shenanigans by the Molinas across the street. However, she's afflicted by an almost lethal clumsiness that got her banned from her restaurant kitchen when she was just a little girl. That maladroitness causes a spectacular cake failure that looks like deliberate sabotage.

So the two teens have their histories and recent travails to handle. We gradually see the two adolescents thaw towards one another, although it isn't easy. Their wariness is compounded by their mothers's constant feuding and a troublesome offer from a new department store that is undersellling all the local shops and buying them out as customers flock to take advantage of their lower prices.

The author has given us an imaginative re-telling of Shakespeare's famous play, interwoven with the color of foreign cooking and the recital of mouth-watering dishes. I had almost expected this book to come with recipes. Alas, there are no such offerings. However, I'm certain that curious gourmands might want to try finding the various foodstuffs the author has placed within these covers. They, along with the story of healing between two raging families, are things to savor.