I’m so pleased to welcome fellow Tule author and one of my dear sprinting buddies, Stacey Agdern, to the blog today. She has a new book out in her Friendship and Festivals series for Tule–Love and Latkes–and it is charming! Stacey is an award-winning former bookseller who has reviewed romance novels in multiple formats and given talks about various aspects of the romance genre. She incorporates Jewish characters and traditions into her stories so that people who grew up like she did can see themselves take center stage on the page. She lives in New York, not far from her favorite hockey team’s practice facility.
You can find Stacey on her website or on social media with these links:
The floor is yours, Stacey…
Thanks, Nan. I’m so glad to be back with you and your readers! I was thinking recently about the themes I used in Love and Latkes, and one of them sticks out like a sore thumb.
Food as Love Language.
For Abe and Batya, food is their safe space. It’s something they can both talk about without any connection to their past, or any of the things that tie them together. Even at the beginning of the book, when neither of them want anything to do with each other, they talk about the changing nature of the bagel shop.
But what’s the difference between a situation where Abe and Batya discuss food when they don’t want to talk, and when they discuss food when they do? Can food be something they share when the relationship is good?
One of the biggest moments in the book takes place when Abe invites Batya to his house to help him with his barbecue. Usually, Abe’s best friend Artur comes over to help with the setup, the cleanup, and the in-between parts of Abe’s Saturday night BBQ business. And yet on one momentous occasion, he invites Batya.
It is a very intimate moment for these two. Abe not only opens the literal door to his house for Batya, but also the figurative one, even going so far as to show Batya his recipe for his prized sauce. He’s taken aback when she says she’s ready to film, because to him this isn’t a public moment, but a private one.
Thankfully, Batya realizes that no camera is necessary and this moment becomes one where she’s able to listen to his story, not just in words, but in food as well. He explains why barbecue, specifically kosher BBQ, is important to him and his narrative–his way of filling in the spaces of his life after he left their hometown–goes a long way in helping Batya see the man he’s become, as opposed to the boy she had a crush on.
It is no surprise that their first kiss happens at the end of this evening.
Food is also what heals their relationship. At the moment where Batya could lose everything, Abe steps up and introduces her to the secret to his BBQ success: his butcher.
This doesn’t seem like very much to most people, but to these two, this is everything. As Abe’s best friend points out:
“I think what you did is you showed her your ace in the hole, the most important thing to your setup. Which is basically etchings to the two of you.”
That moment is the turning point in the story, where you know that these two will end up together, despite everything else that has come, and will come between them. Food is a love language in most of my books, but absolutely and clearly, none of them so much as Love and Latkes.
Love and Latkes
You can’t make a latke without breaking a few eggs…
Batya Averman is ecstatic when a latke fry-off committee chooses her as its web designer—until she learns the event is in Rivertown, New York, the hometown she fled years ago. But she’s no longer the girl with an embarrassing history and an unrequited crush on Abe Neumann. This delicious competition is Batya’s chance to further her career, and this time she won’t run.
Abe Neumann can’t pass up the opportunity to enter the town’s latke contest. He dreams of throwing caution to the wind and leaving his accounting firm, opening a Jewish deli, and choosing his own happiness. The prize money would bring him closer to making his dream a reality, but when Batya comes back to town, Abe remembers that a deli isn’t the only thing he’s wished for.
When the fry-off’s celebrity host has to pull out of the competition, Batya is determined to step up to the challenge. This Hanukkah, can Abe fix the past and convince Batya that dreams, like latkes, are better when they’re shared?
Buy links for Love and Latkes
Amazon | B&N Nook | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Tule Bookstore