Saturday, February 17, 2024

Weekend Cooking/Blog Tour: The Secret Ingredient by Sue Heath

Sometimes you pick up a book, start reading and just know it is going to be a great read from the first page.  This was one of these books for me!!

Kate was very happy in her marriage to Eddie. He cooked for her, he made friends with the neighbours, and generally was an all round good guy, until he went out one day and never came back. Kate was beyond devestated and blindly stumbled through life for a period of timeuntil she realissed that she actually needed  to take stock of her life. She quit her job, anddecided to start by learning to cook for herself. She has her grandmother's recipe book, which includes lots of handwritten notes such as "Kate's favourite".

Whilst she is making a terrible mess whilst attempting to make lemon sugar pancakes her doorbell rings. At the door is  an older man who lives just down the street. He asks if he can come in as he remembers when Kate's house used  to be a tea house where he courted his wife. At times, Charles seems confused but Kate is intrigued and agrees to set the house up as it used to be so that Charles can bring his wife Mary for tea. Now Kate really needs to learn to cook scones if she is going to host an afternoon tea.

Soon Kate is getting to know her neighbours, sharing recipes and food, and learning just how much time Eddie had spent getting to know the people in their street and how thoughtful he was. For  example, Eddie made homemade liver treats for the dog that another neighbour, Della owns. He was just that kind of guy.

One neighbour who Eddie never met was newcomer Jack. Jack ran a very successful local restaurant  and was something of a local celebrity chef, until he suddenly closed down his restaurant and has basically withdrawn from life. Jack and Kate clash from the first second they almost meet. Everyone is intrigued as to why he has stepped away from his life as a chef and why. He has his reasons, but he is not ready to share them just yet.

Each of the characters has lost or are losing someone or something, and at times it is heartbreaking as the story unfolds, especially for Charles and Mary.

When you meet each of our main characters it would be easy to expect that this would be a melancholy read. It is, but it is also funny, feel good reading about finding cross generational, community based friendships, about new starts. I genuinely laughed out loud when Kate made pancakes and the aforementioned dog treats! I did wonder if I should try to use the recipe in the book to make dog treats for our dog but when she talked about how bad it all smelt I decided against it!! 

There was only one moment in the book, and it was a very brief moment, where Kate confessed about something that made wonder about her but other than that I really loved getting to know all the characters and learning their stories.

And the food!! Obviously this book is about a lot of things from loss and friendship but also about Kate learning to cook, how to love cooking, but also more importantly about how food and cooking can be used to show love to the people in their lives.

This is Sue Heath's first book under this name, and I loved it! I already can't wait to read whatever she publishes next. 

I am sharing this review with Foodies Read hosted at Based on a True Story and with the New Release Challenge hosed at The Chocolate Lady's Book Blog

Rating 5/5

About the book

The Secret Ingredient

She’s writing her story one recipe at a time…

‘A delicious story that wraps itself around your heart’ Evie Woods, bestselling author of The Lost Bookshop

It’s been three years, two weeks and one day since Kate Shaw’s life changed forever. Three years, two weeks and one day that Kate has been angry – with herself and life.

But today is different. Different because Kate has finally taken the step she’s been avoiding…back into the kitchen. Now, what begins as a (disastrous) attempt to make pancakes becomes a culinary journey that is not only a love letter to someone so important to her, but also an unexpected means of connection to a community she never knew she had…

Purchase Links

About the author:

Sue Heath lives in Cheshire, England. When she isn’t working, she can often be found running around agility courses with her spaniel, and in the evenings, she loves to cook and spend time with family and friends.

‘The Secret Ingredient’ is an uplifting story that explores how a sense of community, sharing, friendship, love, and a feeling of belonging can help us make sense of life, find comfort, and heal. How we can find our happiness in ordinary things.

Sue has also written fourteen USA Today bestselling romcoms under the pseudonym Zara Stoneley and has sold over half a million copies of her stories worldwide.

You can find out more about Sue on her website –

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @ZaraStoneley

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Butter chicken and rice
Sunday -  Nothing
Monday - Creamy Mustard Pork Chops
Tuesday - Chicken Parma and chips
Wednesday - Takeaway
Thursday - Pork Nachos
Friday - Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. When you pick up a book and the character "feels" like a friend down the street, it is always a good read!

  2. This sounds like a novel that I would enjoy. Thanks for the review.



Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP