Thursday, September 7, 2023

Review - - The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove

The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove
by Karen Hawkins
Dove Pond Series - Book 3
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: August 15, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Three lives converge as a wildly talented baker returns to Dove Pond to face her past in this entry in the charming series that proves that sometimes miracles really do happen...

Ella Dove is an acclaimed baker whose desserts spark vivid, cherished memories in those who taste them. A restless soul, Ella goes wherever the wind takes her—but driven by a haunting dream, she’s coming home to Dove Pond. Years ago, her mentor, Angela Stewart Harrington, falsely accused Ella of stealing her beloved family recipe book, known as the Book of Cakes. Now, Ella believes it’s time for them to reconcile.

Angela has her own share of amends to make. Her daughter Jules has never forgiven her for divorcing her father, and they’ve been estranged ever since. But just as Angela begins to hope that she and Jules might mend their tattered relationship, a miscommunication turns into a lie that could destroy everything.

Meanwhile, Jules’s son Gray is shocked that Ella, his first love and his first heartbreak, has returned to Dove Pond. But even though he knows Ella is a wanderer and will soon leave, he’s unable to stop himself from falling for her once again. Can Gray find a way to convince Ella to give him, and their town, a serious chance? Or is he once again on the road to a broken heart?

With so much at stake, Ella, Angela, and Gray must learn to accept each other—flaws and all—forgive the many mistakes of their pasts, and trust that love can, and will, always find a way. For fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen, 
The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove is a delicious and magical read that will warm your heart and charm your senses.

PJ's Thoughts:

Once again, Karen Hawkins quickly swept me into all the ups and downs of life in Dove Pond, and within the Dove family, holding me there, happily flipping pages to discover what would happen next, until the very end.

These books are character driven and oh, what flawed, complex, delightfully complicated characters they are. Do I like them? Do I despise them? Do they make me laugh? Cry? Cheer for them or want to toss them off a cliff? Yes, to all of the above. Hawkins' characters are realistic. They're relatable. They embody emotions - and issues - many of us face in our daily lives. They're also quirky, sometimes devious, beautifully developed by the author, and always entertaining. 

I love Hawkins' sense of humor which is on full display in this book, especially in the scenes featuring Angela. Her interactions with both Ella and with Gray had me frequently chuckling and often laughing out loud while those with her daughter brought a depth of emotion that gave substance, tension, and hope to a fraught relationship. 

There are so many layers to Ella and Gray. I enjoyed their second chance at romance. While not the primary focus of this book, it holds a fair amount of weight in the overall story, especially as it relates to Ella's personal evolution, and comes with a happy ending. I appreciate that Hawkins devoted time to each character's issues and their individual growth as well as the slow progression into becoming a romantic couple. By the end of the book, I was firmly in their corner. And, bonus! Who knew Gray would come with a Highland Coo calf who is most definitely "Adorbs." I can't wait to see more of these three in future books (hopefully).

I've been reading Karen Hawkins for a long time. Her Scottish historical romances are among my favorites but this new contemporary fiction series with romantic elements, family dynamics, and a touch of magical realism is hitting all of my happy spots. Hawkins' Dove Pond stories touch my heart, tickle my funny bone, and leave me eager for more. I highly recommend this book and this series.


  1. This sounds really fun, thank you for the recommendation!

    1. It's a great series, Katie. I also love that Hawkins has written it in such a way that characters weave in and out of each other's books and yet each story stands well on its own.

  2. Thanks for this lovely review. I have never read anything by Ms Hawkins. I evidently have been missing a good writer's well written books. I like stories which include family relationships, especially when the characters ultimately find new facts about themselves. Again, thanks for the review.

  3. It's on my wish list. I enjoyed all of the previous books.

  4. Graet review thank you! Sounds very good.I'm looking forward to reading this.

  5. Thank you for the review. I have heard good things about this book. I have enjoyed Karen Hawkins' books since discovering her Highland books. I love her character building and sense of humor.
    Patricia B.

  6. Great review! Looking forward to reading this soon!