Ménage
by Emma Holly, contemporary (2001, 1998 reissue)
Black Lace Books, £6.99, ISBN 0-352-33231-X


Kate is a bookstore owner whose favorite past time is snuggling in bed with a recipe book for cream pudding and a do-it-yourself attitude Good Housekeeping would approve of. When she discovers her tenants Joe and Sean enjoying Joe's chocolate pudding, she is delighted. Sean invites her to take a bite too, and Kate, Joe, and Sean learn the joy of sharing their pastries.

Yes, Emma Holly's Ménage is one of the hottest thing to hit the cooking world since the Naked Chef. Until maybe Hugh Jackman takes over the stint as the Naked Chef, Ménage is the prime time TV fun.

Wow as Kate and Sean bake chocolate pudding in the bookstore, just a few feet away from browsers! Ooh as Kate's friend Marianne tells of a wonderful reflexology-cum-gynaecology session on a bicycle and more. Swoon as Joe and Kate make lovely candlelight dinner where they feed each other the best meat on the table. You want more cream with that coffee, dear?

Sometimes they bring two other people to dinner, but the three happy campers won't share their food, stingy pigs, so the poor two people have to watch and drool. Kate and Joe lovingly bond with Sean, until the latter is blushing most wonderfully at all his tender bits from Kate and Joe's tender and stern admonitions when he misbehaved.

Isn't it great? Ménage shows that much younger men cook well. And it isn't all about chocolate pudding, it's about vanilla cakes too. When someone has gorged on too much, there's always CPR.

Alas, things get really boring when the author tries to give Joe and Kate a love story thing. The problem is, Joe is such a baby. He whines when his temperature isn't right, and he squeals when his chocolate cake is too soggy. His instant "I love you!" with Kate is laced with sleeping pills. Sean is better rogue, but because he's a blond, he can't cook well enough. Then the author tries to sell me that Joe is a Super Hot Soap Stud and Kate the Entrepreneur of the Year. Yeah, right, for three people who spend all their time baking and cooking and eating, one can be a superstar and the other supermillionairess?

Pass me the spatula and let me bake cakes too, baby!

Never mind. Fans of cooking like me will surely enjoy Ménage. There's something for everyone. Women sharing the kitchen with women (okay, not enough women sharing kitchens with women - why so stingy?), men with men, women with men, the kitchen is always open to everybody. If only the author has just gone all out dirty and naughty and never bothered with all the boring things like "Oh, we're in love! Really, I love you! I love you too!", though. (Joe and Kate as lovers is one of the most boring love stories since the rock fell in love with the tree stump.)

Ménage - the new It word for cooking fans everywhere! Rumor has it, even Martha Stewart is giving her endorsement. "Ménage in the kitchen is the way to go," she is said to declare on national TV. You can't get any cooler than that.

Rating: 88


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