Berkley, May 2004, 6.99, 352 pp.
After dining at a feast that could only have been made in heaven, Sirs Greeve and Axel return home informing their liege Count Griffin de Grandaise of the delicious palate. Griffin, who cannot abide the slop that is served and with a “nasal” condition, sneaks into the Convent of the Brides of Virtue and tastes the best food he ever ate. He offers the Abbess gold to purchase her cook from her, but is rejected until the Bishop and Duke intercede and force a transaction. The cook, Julia of Childress, will spend one year teaching Griffin's staff to cook in exchange for gold.
Unhappy as a pawn and the presumption of the Abbess that she wants to take vows, Julia accompanies Griffin back to his estate, but not before she spends his fortune on spices and sundry. Griffin is attracted to his new employee but avoids her except for meals because he does not want to cause an incident with the Duke and besides he is engaged to the daughter of his neighbor. As a third player manipulates the hostility between Griffin and his future in-laws, Julia choose to stay as his countess because she loves him.
THE MARRIAGE TEST is an amusing medieval romance that moves the senses especially taste and olfactory. The humorous storyline grips the audience from the moment Griffin sneaks into the convent's kitchens. The tale never slows down until a final confrontation though the tie up in terms of relationships is too tidy. Fans will enjoy Julia's skills to make Griffin salivate for her food and for her.
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner