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The unexpected death of her boss pushes Mary Russo into opening her own restaurant, Mama Sophias, which will specialize inwhat else?Italian food. Despite opening day glitches, the restaurant does banner business, but to Marys indignation, new food critic Dan Gallagher pans her restaurant in the Baltimore Sun.

Sportswriter Dan Gallagher is frustrated by his temporary position as head of the food section. Hes stuck covering for a maternity leave and waiting for the incompetent nephew of the boss to self-destruct in the Sports Editor position. Because of childhood issues, Dan has always hated Italian food, so he is not impressed with Mama Sophias. But when Mary charges into his office to complain, Dan is very intrigued.

Dan gained primary custody of his 8-year-old son Matt after his ex-wife left to find herself, but his confused son is not making things easy. Dan takes Matt to Mama Sophias and finds his son is smitt-en with Mary, her family and the food. After publicly bad mouthing her food, Dan is going to have to work hard to make amends. But since there is something about Mary, hes more than willing to try.

If you are looking for a charming, humorous and just plain fun novel, then this is the book for you. Millie Criswell proves that she is just as adept at telling contemporary stories as she is with historical ones. (Jan., 336 pp., $6.50)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith