Perfect Pairing is a book you should read with plenty of great food at hand. No matter what time of day I return to this story or even if I just ate, I always find myself super hungry (even if the sandwich being made is not my jam). At least it’s delicious torture. Can I avoid the temptation of employing a good many food puns in this review? Probably not and I probably won’t try to hard to avoid serving them up, either. There is plenty of head butting, humor, and romance as Quinn Banning, an investment banker with strong local ties and an even stronger drive, tries to get successful food truck chef Hal Orion on board with starting a restaurant (complete with all expenses paid and creative control). Neither woman wants to give up what matters most to them. They both love their hometown of Buffalo, New York, and want to keep its special flavors intact, but come at it from seemingly different angles. Quinn’s college-age brother, Ian and his adorkably endearing qualities help humanize her “Never gets no for an answer” business persona, but that only goes so far. Sully, Hal’s friend-food truck partner-roommate, adds playful winks and nods and say no mores to post-Quinn encounters and exploring the reasons for Hal’s refusal to accept the banker’s proposition. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is…right?
What I love and what is immediately apparent from the first page is the genuine dialogue, character chemistry, and strong (though wordless presence) of the story’s other main character, Food. One of my favorite quandaries is having a pocketful of cash and tons of food options pumping their amazing aromas in my face. I’m also the kind of person who would starve to death because making a choice on what I’ll eat is really hard when I’m torn in a million different directions. Yet, Hal makes a food lover’s choice easy. At her food truck, Cheesy Does It, you can stuff your face with any number of savory sandwiches. From “Heard of Buffalo!” to “Sloppy Firsts” to “Hippy Dippy” and more, everyone from investment bankers to Instagrammers to blue collar workers can find something to enjoy. Hal is more concerned with making sure no one leaves her truck hungry than with her bottom line.
As Hal and Quinn spend more time together (for better or worse), boundaries between business and personal blur. Can they create a recipe for success or will it all fall apart?
***Awesome bonus: If you want to learn how to make some of the sandwiches in Perfect Pairing, author Rachel Spangler shows you how in a series of videos on her website.***