Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Meet Me on Love Lane" by Nina Bocci, Served with a Recipe for Mini Artichoke Lasagnas & Garlic Toast

Happy 2020! I am kicking off the new year with my first TLC Book Tour review of the decade, Meet Me on Love Lane, a novel by Nina Bocci. Accompanying my review off this sweet romance is a recipe for Mini Artichoke Lasagnas from The Forest Feast Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson, served with garlic toast.


Publisher's Blurb:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a romantic comedy about a woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens. 
Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.
She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.
With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?
A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.
Series: Hopeless Romantics (Book 2)
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books (December 10, 2019)

My Review: 

I like a good small town romance, Hallmark-like rom-com novel every so often, especially around the holidays and Meet Me on Love Lane is exactly that. Part of the Hopeless Romantics series, it's the second book and although it isn't necessary to start with On the Corner of Love and Hate, I am quirky about reading books in order to get the back story so I asked that I be sent the first book too. I'm glad I read it first since the series centers around a group of childhood friends, grown up to their early thirties and building their adult lives in the town they grew up in. Meet Me on Love Lane centers around Charlotte, who had to leave her hometown of Hope Lake, Pennsylvania when she was ten with her bitter mother after her parents divorce, and returns to town from New York City to regroup after her event planning career implodes. After 21 years, Charlotte's memory of the town is spotty but she is sure her exile in Hope Lake will just be for the summer. Her childhood friend Emma (the main character in the first book) is determined to keep her there and offers up a tempting opportunity for Charlotte to open and run the local flower shop. There are also two attractive men vying for her attention--Max, the new doctor in town working with Charlotte's father and Henry, her childhood best friend and the English teacher at the town's high school. So there is romance and a cast of fun small town characters including Gigi, Charlotte's irrepressible grandmother a retired doctor, and her best friend and neighbor Mrs. Mancini. 

It's sweet and touching and the kind of feel good story that is a pleasure to read. I did like Meet Me on Love Lane better than On the Corner of Love and Hate which took me longer to get into but after finishing both, I became quite enamoured with Hope Lake and its citizens and I am excited to read the third book The Ingredients of You and Me, coming out at the end of April. If you want something light and romantic to read, this series will appeal. 

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Author Notes: Nina Bocci is a USA TODAY bestselling novelist who loves reading and writing about swoony, relatable heroes and smart, witty heroines. If it’s set in a small town, even better. You can always find her chatting on social media about her massive, crazy Italian family, and her favorite person in the world, her son.
Connect with Nina on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


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Food Inspiration: 

There was a good amount of food in Meet Me on Love Lane even though most of the main and supporting characters are not cooks. Mentions included ice cream, coffee, cookies, pasta Fagioli, big sandwiches with pickle spears and chips, scones, wine, garlic-Parmesan chicken wings, Nathan's hot dogs, Peeps, fries, pizza, iced tea, a meatball appetizer with Mozzarella inside, grapefruit and blood orange draft beer, pasta, green tea, fortune cookies, Kung Pao chicken, shrimp with garlic sauce, bananas foster cupcakes and cookies.


I was torn between three different Italian dishes for my book-inspired dish, the Classic sandwich that Emma advises Charlotte try on their lunch together (fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach, sliced tomato, and basil pesto mayonnaise on a soft bun), the pizza from the local hang out (thin, cheesy, and the right amount of crunch to the crust) and the "too-large piece of lasagna and slice of garlic toast" that Mrs. Mancini leaves for her on her first night.



Ultimately the lasagna won out especially since I had all of the items I needed to make the Mini Artichoke Lasagnas from The Forest Feast Mediterranean: Simple Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by My Travels by Erin Gleeson, a book that I received from Abrams Publishing as part of their #AbramsDinnerParty event. (I'll be reviewing the cookbook soon--I want to try a couple more of the recipes first.) Although the portion isn't "too-large" like the slice in the book, the ramekins make more convenient portions.


Mini Artichoke Lasagnas
The Forest Feast Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson
(Makes 4)

1 cup (240 ml) marinara sauce
6 oz (170 g) fresh mozzarella, sliced
4 Tbsp chopped marinated artichoke hearts
4 strips of no-boil lasagna noodles, broken into pieces
1/2 cup (50 g) grated Parmesan

Put a spoonful of marinara in the bottom of each of 4 (3 1/2-in/9-cm) ramekins, then layer all other ingredients except the Parmesan which goes on top. Try to give each ramekin 3 layers of noodles & always make sure sauce is covering the noodles. 

Bake at 375 degrees F. (190 degrees C.) for 25-30 minutes. Cool a bit before serving & top each with fresh basil, salt & pepper.



Notes/Results: For a quick and easy vegetarian lasagna without a lot of bells and whistles, this one is pretty tasty. I used a good marinara sauce and fresh Parmesan-Reggiano and mozzarella, which help with the flavor. I will make this again--maybe using a larger ramekin as getting all of the layers into this one was a bit tricky. I had not used no-boil lasagna noodles before and was pleasantly surprised that the texture was comparable to the kind you boil. For my garlic bread I mixed melted salted butter with roasted garlic powder and brushed it on the bread and toasted it in my toaster oven, Delicious and I have no issue with double carbs. ;-) The portion of lasagna with the bread was satisfying, although a green salad would be a nice addition. A great comfort food meal!


(Many thank to Abrams Books and #AbramsDinner Party for the gorgeous new cookbook that I know will become a favorite part of my collection. My thoughts, feelings and experiences cooking from it are my own. #sponsored)

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Meet Meet on Love Lane" (and a copy of "On the Corner of Love and Hate) was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.

 

5 comments:

  1. Every so often, I like a funny and quirky romance. I'm not much on series though. :( I am MUCH on these lasagnas and I can't wait for you to review the cookbook! Happy 2020!

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  2. I love that cookbook and somehow skipped over these lasagnas. I'm definitely going to try them! I might add some extra herbs to the sauce.

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  3. If the sound of your mini-lasagnas didn't convince me, the pics certainly did. I'll be making those pronto! And the Rom com is appealing as well. I do enjoy those now and then.

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  4. I know that authors often say that you can read books as standalone but so often you really do need to read books in order to get the whole story

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  5. I just want you to come make me food everyday. :) I love the cover of this book and it sounds like such a great read. Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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