Reservations for Two

A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons

About the Book

A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places
Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.
Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?
As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?
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Praise for Reservations for Two

Praise for Reservations for Two:

“Lodge has created yet another sumptuous story—full of intrigue, humanity, tantalizing tastes, and true love, in its myriad forms. She gracefully leads us into kitchens, restaurants, and hearts, not to mention sensorial visits to France, Italy, and the tensions of WWII Paris. Poised on a knife’s edge, Lodge left me yearning for her next story and for time in the kitchen to test some of her tempting recipes.”
—Katherine Reay, author of the critically acclaimed Dear Mr. Knightley and Lizzy & Jane

“Reservations for Two is a foodie’s delight, peppered with great dishes and references to European culinary landmarks. Lodge’s sparkling dialogue adds levity to the book’s more serious moments and kept me flipping pages well into the night. But fair warning…readers will be hard pressed to choose between turning to the next chapter and running to the kitchen to try one of the many delectable recipes.”
—Carla Laureano, RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye and London Tides

“Endearing, witty, delectable. Hillary Manton Lodge’s second installment in the Two Blue Doors series is as delicious as her first, even for a non-foodie like me! I especially appreciated the seamless transition from Juliette’s current life and travels to her grand-mère’s WWII past, a captivating angle that added the perfect hint of mystery.”
—Melissa Tagg, author of From the Start

“Through a clutch of discovered letters, which I read as compulsively as did our heroine, Juliette D’Alisa, and her large Franco-Italian family, we discover that circumstances can be as bitter as baking powder or as delightful as powdered sugar. Both, however, are required to produce the very best madeleines, as well as a deeply satisfying life. Reservations for Two is a touching, page-turning novel, which brings home that each day, no matter its troubles, can be filled with good things, especially chocolat et bisous, chocolate and kisses, if we freely offer them to those we love. I read, wanting happiness, ultimately, for the delightful Juliette, as much as she wanted it for everyone else. ”
—Sandra Byrd, author of Let Them Eat Cake

“Hillary Manton Lodge has done it again! From the exquisite prose to the twists and turns of a delicious—pun intended—plot, Reservations for Two is a complete delight. Though this story picks up where Lodge’s freshman novel A Table by the Window left off, this book easily stands alone as a do-not-miss treat! From the lavender fields of Provence to Paris, Memphis, and the Pacific Northwest; from recipes for Rosemary Fig Focaccia to Nasturtium and Spring Greens Salad; from the 1930s to the present…this novel is a delight for the senses, a trip through time and kitchens, far and near. Kudos to Lodge.”
—Kathleen Y’Barbo, best-selling author of The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series and Firefly Summer

“With a palate of rich characters, vibrant flavors, and vintage-inspired romance, Hillary Manton Lodge’s Reservations for Two is a feast for the senses. From the fragrant lavender fields of Provence to Tuscany’s golden hills, Lodge takes the reader on a journey that is about both discovery and coming home. It’s très chic and enchanting—a recipe of amour for the reader’s heart!”
—Kristy Cambron, author of The Butterfly and the Violin and A Sparrow in Terezin

“Hillary Lodge has done it again! Picking up where A Table by the Window left off, Reservations for Two is another delectable story filled with romance, intrigue, witty dialogue, exquisite prose, and delicious recipes. This one is sure to charm readers every bit as much as the first!”
—Katie Ganshert, award-winning author of A Broken Kind of Beautiful
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Reservations for Two

Chapter 1

While there is tea, there is hope.—Arthur Wing Pinero

The Provençal breeze tousled the ends of my hair as I tried to organize my thoughts. “I’m beginning to figure out what I want,” I told Neil, my voice echoing slightly over the cell connection.


“When you hang up and listen to the message I was leaving, you’ll hear all about it.”

He chuckled, and my heart squeezed in my chest. Neil McLaren had the best laugh I’d ever heard—low and warm. If I closed my eyes, I could see the way his eyes crinkled at the corners, the way his lips turned up.

Not that I’d gotten to spend that much time looking at his eyes during our on-again, off-again long-distance relationship, but his short visit to Portland had left a lasting impression.

It was a laugh I never thought I’d hear again.

“You want me to hang up?” he asked.

“Nope, never.”

“So why don’t you tell me what you want?”

I shrugged and looked out onto the lavender waving in the breeze. “I want the impossible. I want my job at the restaurant, and I want to be with you.”


“Cool?” I lifted an eyebrow. “What are you, fifteen?”

Neil sighed. “Sometimes I feel like it.”

“The restaurant—I gave up my job, my normal, stable-ish job at the paper to open this restaurant with my brother. I’ve always, always wanted to run a restaurant, and I’m not ready to give that up.”

“I wouldn’t want that for you.”

“But—,” I started, ready to remind him that he worked in Memphis and that instantaneous travel remained a figment of Star Trek’s imagination.

“Here’s the thing,” Neil said, interrupting me. “I have vacation days I haven’t taken because all I’ve done for the last few years is work. I have thousands of frequent flyer miles built up, just sitting around.”

“Aiming to get your name on the side of a plane?”

“Not yet. I’d rather use them. And I’m at a good place to pause at work. Do you want company?”

All of my counterarguments about work, travel, and romance dissolved in an instant. “What?”

“I’ll fly out there. You want us to be together? So do I, and spending time in Europe doesn’t sound so bad.”

“It’s not a vacation,” I told him. “It’s a trip to see family, when I’m not meeting with investors or poking around in my grandmother’s history—though I suppose that’s still family related. There will be family dinners and people with opinions. And if you decide to come with me to Italy, those opinions will get even louder.”

“Do you want me to come?”

“Yes, but—”

“Then I’ll see you there.”

I snorted. “You don’t even know where I am.”

“I know you’re at Chateau de l’Abeille. I also know how to use Google.”

“Well . . . fine. Be all smart like that.”

“I love you, Juliette. I want you to know that.”

Joy blossomed inside my heart. “I love you, Neil.”

“Guess what?”


“I’ll see you soon.”

From: Letizia Adessi,
To: Me,

Ciao, Juliette!

Can’t wait to see you! You must remind me when you are arriving on the train. Nonno and the rest of the family are delighted to see you, though we’re very sad that your parents won’t be able to make the journey. How is your mother? And when does your new restaurant open?


From: Me,
To: Letizia,

Dear Letizia—

Looking forward to seeing you as well! I’ll be a few days with my mother’s cousin here in Provence, then planning to take the train to Rome. I have a few scheduled meetings with suppliers for the restaurant, but the rest of my time is all yours. The plan is still to travel together to Montalcino for Nonno’s party, yes?

My parents are doing okay for the time being. Mom’s cancer was diagnosed at stage three, so she’s had surgery as well as chemo, with radiation planned next. With my mom’s health we’re hopeful, but the doctors have warned us that ovarian cancer is usually chronic, and never really goes into remission. But we have hope.

My father is having a difficult time, but he’s a wonderful caretaker, and the rest of us are filling the gaps as we can, both at home and at D’Alisa & Elle. Business is doing okay at the restaurant, at least.

The preparations at Two Blue Doors (the new restaurant) are going well—we’re looking to open on July 25th. It’s been a few years since his last restaurant closed, so Nico’s excited to have his own place again, though if he changes the menu one more time, I might have to murder him (just kidding—they’re always great changes. He really is a talented chef. It’s just that the ordering budget is something Nico views as an abstract idea, rather than a hard and fast set of numbers).

I’ve been living above the restaurant in the apartment, along with my friend Clementine, who’s the pastry–chef that’s been fun, and waking up to pastry experiments has been lovely. With everything on my to-do list for the opening, I haven’t had time to miss working at the newspaper, though I do wish I saw work friends more often.

I just got to Montagnac, where I’ll be staying with my mother’s cousin Sandrine, her husband Auguste, and my great-aunt Cécile for a few days. It’s a lovely spot—the family chateau where my grandmother was raised and my mother grew up. Now it’s an inn as well as a lavender farm—Sandrine and Auguste run the place. I’ll be sure to take pictures to share. And if my plans shift at all, I’ll let you know as soon as possible. There are a couple variables here (one in particular) that I’m not entirely sure about.

Can’t wait to see you! Is there anything I can bring from here for Nonno’s party? Give my love to everyone!


I spent the next thirty-six hours expecting to get a phone call, an e-mail, or a carrier pigeon telling me that it wasn’t going to work out, that Neil wouldn’t make it for any number of wholly practical reasons.

There was no denying the chemistry we’d felt when we were together, but the distance had taken its toll, and we’d broken up.

But now we were back together, or as together as two people who had broken up over the phone and gotten back together over the phone could be. Our breakup before my flight to France still felt fresh—fresh enough that I expected news that Neil had come to his senses more than I expected the man himself.

As the hours passed, though, my phone didn’t buzz with a text or e-mail revealing that he’d changed his mind, that some immunology crisis had emerged, that an unexpected summer tornado had hit Memphis.

And I knew, because I’d checked.

Instead, I was setting the table for lunch when I saw a moving cloud of dust come down the long road toward the chateau.

“Either that’s the German guests who haven’t checked in yet,” said my cousin Sandrine, watching the window from over my shoulder, “or your copain has arrived.”

“Eh?” her husband Auguste intoned, setting aside the radio he’d been tinkering with to have a look out the window for himself.

We watched together as Neil—all six feet and three inches of him—unfolded from his tiny rented Fiat.

“Ah, c’est l’Américain,” Auguste noted, turning to me. “Bonne chance.”

“Oh, la.” Sandrine pressed a hand to her heart. “Très beau. How did you meet?”

My heart fluttered with happiness. “The Internet,” I said, my eyes trained on Neil. The moment he spied me through the window, a grin spread across his face.

I raced out the door and into his arms. “You came!”

Neil pressed a kiss to my forehead and held me close. “I told you I would,” he said. “All you had to do was ask.”

I looked up at him, taking in his gold hair, his gingery beard.

We returned to discover that the lunch table set for three had become a table set for two; Sandrine and Auguste had disappeared. Two candles flickered at the center of the table.

“I think Sandrine and Auguste feel invested in our having a happy reunion,” I remarked dryly.

“I can live with that.” Neil tipped my chin upward and placed a gentle kiss at the corner of my mouth.

My fingers wove into his hair as I kissed him back.

Two Blue Doors Series

Together at the Table
Reservations for Two
A Table by the Window

About the Author

Hillary Manton Lodge
Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA bestselling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate magazine. A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring new walking trails. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon. More by Hillary Manton Lodge
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