Market gardener Perdita Dylan is wholly unprepared for the sight she discovers when making a delivery to the kitchen of one of her customers, an up-scale hotel - her ex-husband, last seen as high powered London stockbroker, has been reincarnated as an executive chef. Neither Perdita nor Lucas are keen for anyone to know about their hasty, youthful marriage, and they manage to maintain a freindly enough professional relationship, though this becomes a little strained when the producers of a new food show decide Perdita's ramshackle cottage is the ideal location to shoot the pilot.
It will come as no surprise that Perdita falls for Lucas all over again, their squabbles a front for the growing physical attraction between them. There are some nice touches, including a substantial secondary plot involving Perdita's upbringing and the honorary aunt she is now closer to that she is to her parents, and a romance between one of Lucas' kitchen staff and Perdita's assistant gardener, and the changes in the main characters now and when they were married a decade earlier and relatively convincing.
I enjoyed reading Thyme Out but it is at heart a standard romance novel, fun for a little light entertainment but not substantive. There are a couple of forceful kisses, and though (to Fforde's credit) Perdita does think about the fact that the kiss "had[n't] turned her knees to jelly, made her wish the kiss could go on for ever, or anything remotely romantic" she does respond favourably and "she hadn't felt revolted, or raped, or violated, or indeed any of the proper, politically correct emotions felt by women when men forced themselves on them." I'm all for attraction and visceral responses and the rest of it, but it would have been nice if Fforde hadn't left the impression that women who are kissed (or otherwise touched) against their will may feel revolted, raped or violated not because it's the politically correct thing to do but because they actually have been touched without permission and against their will. I really, really hate the use of the phrase "politically correct" to undermine the legitimacy of something that's actually morally questionable, if not outright wrong. It wasn't enough to spoil the novel, but it did remove a little of the froth. - Alex