This year the Pink Heart Society has been delighted to present the HM&B Movies in review. This week we present the final in the series, with Bronwyn Jameson's review of Recipe for Revenge.
I picked up the last of the DVDs in the Harlequin series for my December review, saw in the cover notes "based on a novel by Jayne Anne Krentz" and though hooray! I am quite the fan of JAK, you see, so imagine my surprise when the movie starts and the opening credits announce "based on a novel by Kristin Gabriel."
Luckily I've also been known to laugh out loud while devouring Kristin Gabriel's Love & Laughters, Duets and Temptations. Trivia aside: Kristin has won 2 RITA Awards for Best Traditional Romance, for Monday Man (1999) and Annie Get Your Groom (2000.) Recipe for Revenge is based on her 1998 Love & Laughter, Bullets Over Boise, which appears to have been her debut novel. It translates to movie format very nicely indeed and has just leapfrogged to the top of my favourite HM&B movies list. And by quite a margin.
In a nutshell: struggling young caterer Carly Hunter witnesses a double murder and identifies the perpetrator as popular TV sex therapist Chester Winnifield. After the smooth-talking "Professor Passion" is released on bail, star witness Carly receives worrying threats and Detective Jack Brannigan is assigned as her bodyguard. Throw in a cast of meddling neighbours and a handful of troublesome catering gigs and much hi-jinks ensues before a dramatic climax and surprise twist.
What I liked: the casting and characters. Carly is played by Kim Huffman, and she does a splendid job creating a likeable heroine who is struggling to keep her fledgling catering business afloat. I really believed the attraction between her and our unassuming hero played by Alex Carter, who seems to have forged a career in TV law enforcement. His most recent continuing roles are in CSI and Lincoln Heights.
Jack is a nice guy hero who doesn't have to go all alpha in his protection and pursuit of Carly. I liked that she put the initial moves on him, and I loved how you could tell he was a goner. As Carly's sister puts it: "he went all gooey when you pouted." Carly isn't afraid to use this to her advantage in "negotiating" the terms of her protection. Gotta love a resourceful heroine. I liked her so much that I actually forgave her a couple of TSTL moments late in the piece.
The conflict is all external and there was enough going on in this movie that it didn't bother me at all. Comic relief is provided by a colourful cast of secondary characters, sharp dialogue, clever foody puns used in the media reports, and some catering scenes that border on farce. This also worked well with the interruptions that peppered Carly and Jack's attempts at romance. They're finally left alone to get it together in a perfect happy ending.
If you like pacey, romantic fun then I think you'll enjoy this movie. I did and hereby grant it a PHS warm and funny rating of 9 out of 10.
Bronwyn Jameson's latest release is a HM&B Australia reissue of her first 2 Desires as a Bestseller Collection. More details at eHarlequin or at Bronwyn's website.