★★★★ Olivia Dumont, a young and beautiful pastry chef, moves from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas, where she quickly lands a job at Vita e Spezie (Life and Spice), a popular family-run Italian restaurant nestled in a charming historical building. Salvatore (Sal) Angeloni, Olivia’s new boss, is grateful for the extra help in the kitchen, which he sorely needs in light of his siblings’ declining physical and mental health. Upon starting work, a string of sudden, dire events causes Olivia to grow close to the Angeloni family. She becomes especially tight with Luca, Sal’s only son, who shows up unannounced to reunite with his father after many years of separation. The connection between Olivia and Luca is undeniable, and their feelings for each other develop amidst immense family drama, as well as Olivia’s own personal hardship, which she tries very hard to conceal.
Life & Spice: Vita e Spezie is an inviting story about food, family, and the healing power of love. The romance between Olivia and Luca is endearing, and, at moments, juicy. Yet, despite these aspects, the progression of their courtship still feels unrealistically fast. At the beginning of the story, Olivia is completely against the idea of pursuing a romantic relationship with her boss’s son. While it is true that love works in mysterious ways, after just weeks of knowing each other, Olivia’s feelings shift; suddenly, she and Luca are inseparable, and Olivia divulges deeply personal matters with him. The storyline is riddled with one bad event after another, but in the face of such hardship, the characters’ resourcefulness and determination to prevail is unwavering. Such resilience is notable and it keeps readers completely engrossed in the character’s trials, rooting for the happy ending that they all deserve.