Dinner for Two by Arlene Evans


Cozy MysteryRomance

Dinner for Two Dinner for TwoArlene Evans; Echelon Press Publishing 2005WorldCat

Review is by Molly

The narrative opens as Gene Haynes puts the finishing touches on the cake he will deliver for a murder mystery dinner. Gene is pleased that the cake is basically black and white. His color blindness does black and white with little problem. It is other colors that pose a bit of difficulty for him. Chef Haynes is struggling to establish a café and catering business. His specialty is romantic Dinners for Two.

Across town Misty Jones, teacher, floral artist, former Peace Corps worker faces her own determination to begin a business and gain independence for herself. When Misty gives Gene a rubber check to pay for her not so romantic dinner; the pair find themselves combining talents which soon begin to grow both the catering and designing businesses. Misty comes to the café to work as a ‘server’ until the bad check is paid off. Soon she brings some of her floral arrangement to offer for sale at the restaurant. Gene is not sure he like that plan, but he does go along with it. . Gene’s first major catering job with hundreds of patrons rather than two, ends in a near disaster. That disaster propels Gene and Misty into danger, near death and physical injury to both. The tale rollicks on to a satisfying conclusion.

Dinner for Two is a delightfully enjoyable read. The quixotic repartee between Author Evans’ characters add a sense of delightful fun to the work. Evans has taken two most improbable characters, tossed them together, woven a tale of lighthearted romance, mystery and mystery to perfection. Dialog is peppery, filled with angst and easily believable.

The feelings of uncertainty and lack of self confidence exhibited by each of the main characters is easily believable. Gene struggles with his color blindness and his family’s lack of marital stability; his mom has just entered marriage five, perhaps it is six, his siblings are divorced and engaged in relationships. Misty grapples with feelings of incertitude with respect to her burgeoning sense of fondness for Gene as well as her doubtfulness regarding what Gene’s feelings for her might be. The pair tiptoe all around their true feelings as shown with an adept use of italics to indicate thought as they settle into a comfortable routine catering and providing floral arrangements. The characters Lorna and Dave are less developed, however, I found them interesting and engaging. The character Raymond appears as a typical self centered rich kid who has a hard time understanding that long friendship does not mean carte blanche to do as one pleases.

Dinner for Two is a fun read. I particularly enjoyed the affable bantering carried on between the main characters and between the main characters and their friends. The trials and tribulations of the pair, lack of working capital, sexual tension a near disaster due to chicanery on the part of another person, threat of lawsuit and police activity, all move the tale forward to the predictable and satisfying conclusion.

Californians will enjoy reading and identifying Sacramento and adjacent Sierra Nevada locales. Descriptions of the foothill hiking areas is especially realistic.

Writer Evans, a Registered Nurse with many years dealing with youngsters who have CVD Color Vision Deficiency presents an excellent portrayal of a man who is secure in his skill and masculinity even as he remembers years of ridicule and distrust thrust upon him in the school setting. As Gene comes to grips with understanding that CVD need not be a stop to those who honestly admire and respect him; the reader is guided into a better understanding of what is needed to not only empathize but to really understand life as lived by others. (My husband also is color blind …. )

Conflict abounds. The problems created by a dishonest vendor are believable, his short sighted determination to hide his involvement in a serious incident sad to say is also believable. I have known more than one young, ‘jump on my horse and ride’ type over the years. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend especially if you like a touch of romance with your mystery.

More books by Arlene Evans

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